Getting old for me has less to do with my creaky bones and rigid beliefs than it does with recycling. Tomorrow the President unveils (poor word choice) the latest strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and it already feels like recycling of a bad sort. AfPak has been done before. And before that. And again before. Juat check the speeches, and you’ll know. You can’t help but think that while Obama has taken a good, long look at the options, there hasn’t been a real understanding of the region or of history. Of the mindsets that accompany Pashtunwali, a country without the real idea of a country, and faith — in this case, Islam. Of course, there’s the challenge of politics complicating these matters, and by that I mean U.S. politics, but honestly, the Vice-President is closer to right this time around. Jim Hoagland summed it up beautifully yesterday in WaPo.
So I find myself doing my own recycling, as if by fate. I came across this essay by the one writer who I continually seem to return to — V.S. Naipaul. It’s worth reading and considering once again — perhaps as a way of stopping the simple recycling of bad ideas, or maybe going beyond statistics and numbers that military men provide.