Thursday, August 30, 2007

Girls, Women Trafficked in Asia for Commercial Sex Work Emerging as HIV/AIDS Risk

by Anuradha Bhattacharjee
Development Gateway Foundation

"Young women and girls in Asia who are trafficked for commercial sex work are emerging as an HIV/AIDS risk factor, according to a report released by the United Nations Wednesday at the 8th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific ... An estimated 8.6 million people living in the Asia-Pacific region are HIV-positive.
... The report ... focused on the estimated 150,000 to 2000,000 people from South Asia trafficked and forced into labor annually, usually as sex workers
... the number represents only 50% of the people who are trafficked in all of Asia.

Click on the title for the whole article.

FemFatal said...
As a student of women's issues, I have been repeatedly saddened by the U.N.'s half-hearted attempts to fight the trafficking of women in Asia. I have become a subscriber to the belief that nations will only act in their self-interest and that until the trafficking of women becomes a significant problem for the nations involved, no serious effort to thwart these crimes will take place. While your latest post about the spread of AIDS through trafficking worries me, I also can't help but wonder, will the spread of AIDS wake up the governments in some of these countries to take serious action against trafficking? Could this be, dare I say, a blessing in disguise?

The U.S. Counter-propaganda Failure in Iraq

Andrew Garfield of the Middle East Quarterly provides us with a helpful analysis of the situation in Iraq. Unfortunately, like virtually every other report about the site, other than that of the administration -- which has a clear interest in how the picture is presented -- the picture is grim. Still, better to know the truth than to live with an invented fantasy. The public has been given idealistic assessments for too long.

"Defeat of the insurgency and terrorism in Iraq requires not only a military approach but also a political component ... To defeat the insurgency, coalition forces must persuade the Iraqi population to reject extremism and deny safe haven to those fighting the new Iraqi political order. This will require dialogue, inducements, and the proportionate use of force to win the battle for 'hearts and minds' ... the insurgents and militia groups are adept at releasing timely messages to undermine support for the Iraqi government ... They are quick to exploit coalition failures and excesses ... To show their prowess, the insurgents often distribute sophisticated videos of an attack on coalition troops within hours of the operation ...
... Coalition information operations are a shadow of their opponents. While the coalition has spent a hundred million dollars on advertising in Iraq, the strategy of re-awarding huge contracts to advertising firms ... who cannot demonstrate effective audience penetration is questionable.
...Too often, the coalition has used democracy promotion, citizenship, legitimacy of the Iraqi security forces, or demonization of the insurgents as their major themes. None of these, however, have direct relevance for most Iraqis.
... a counter-propaganda campaign ... should extol the virtues of the Iraqi government and the coalition and bolster morale shaken by three years of violence while also highlighting the insurgency's vices.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Betrayal of trust

Bill Moyers has pointed out that even while Karl Rove "asked God to bless the president and the country, ... reports were circulating that he himself had confessed to friends his own agnosticism; he wished he could believe, but he cannot." So the great political strategist is indeed only that: he is ready to manipulate the good Christian people on the right for political ends.

Few trends are more worrisome than the uses now being made of biblical terms and images in politics. Politicians deliberately and calculatedly proclaim their devotion to God. Would that it were true! – at least would that an authentic appreciation of the biblical texts as they are would be reflected in the discernment and wisdom of those who lead. The NIV translation of Psalms 139:20 reads, referring to God, “They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.” Even people who know nothing about the Bible or have no use for it consider the new prominence of religious claims in politics to be cynical, like the Psalmist here. We are all disgusted by the pious use of grand moralistic rhetoric for insidious and self serving ends. As it happens, I find the policies and practices of the current administration unwise, shamefull, and frightening. Who can deny by this time that they have led our country into disaster? Already we don't know how to help those faithful Iraqis who have supported our activities and now must flee for their lives.

Administrations do blunder of course, like us all, but the absence of wisdom in this administration can be attributed to human qualities (arrogance, obstinacy, if not deliberate ignorance) that no one would consider moral, much less “Christian.”

So what will my dear friends on the Christian right feel as they discover they have been used for partisan reasons by a skeptic, a secular manipulator? Indeed, hardly any of those in this administration appear to be "believers". This is why the neo-cons in this administration have no moral qualms about legalizing the torture of prisoners in American care.

It is hard to understand why so many good, upright Americans have been willing to accept the justifications given by this administration for abusing human rights and misrepresenting the truth, as it has done over and over again. As time goes by we are going to find out that many of those who shaped American policy were nothing other than political manipulators -- managing the goodwill of the American public. Most Americans, like people everywhere else, are busy with their own problems. At least in the democracies, people can leave the management of state affairs to those whom they have elected for that purpose.

Few people have the time or inclination to follow precisely what leaders are actually doing; they accept their leaders by faith. What this American public is going to discover over time is that they have been betrayed over and over again. They will discover betrayal as they find out about many others besides Karl Rove who have manipulated their good will: Ralph Reed, Senator Larry Craig, Paul Wolfowitz, and many others in this administratin who have insisted on making false claims in the face of truth (Cheney), framed policy without doing the necessary homework (Rumsfeld, Bush), and placed our faithful military personnel into impossible situations at the risk of their own lives.

Even the Republication leaders are appalled at the enlarging pile of mess-ups. As Scott Reed put it in his recent critique of his own Republican party, "no one could make this up."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Good news: the hostages are being released by the Taliban.

The agreement came after direct talks between representatives of the Taliban and the Korean government. The release of the hostages was conditional upon withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan this year and a termination of missionary activities. The Korean government was already planning to withdraw its troops by the end of this year. In fact, it will be a loss to the Afghanistan people because those “troops” were mostly engineers and medical workers. As for the sending of missionaries, that part of the agreement is ambiguous because the government does not send missionaries: Is the Korean government going to restrict individuals from leaving Korea to do missionary work?. A spokesman has said, "The hostages will be released, but the conditions are not as clear cut as that."

Click on the title to see the Al Jazeera report on the release.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The advancing cancer: the betrayal of whistleblowing

We are all familiar with high-sounding ideals – like we should reward whistle-blowers. But when it comes to actually putting such clichés into practice, it seems not to be working out as we think it does [or should]. Here is one more case in which the costs of whistleblowing these days have become devastating. Too bad for the individual involved. Too bad, also, for all of us, because in the long run the costs of allowing fraud and deception to go unexposed will bring all integrity in our society to an end. Then the fabric of integrity that enables this country to function, for all its high-sounding appearances, will be fatally weakened.

Click on the title for one example.

Seventy-two million dollar salary for “a useless pile of rubble”

Rolling Stone has an article about the Bush contacts who have made huge amounts of money in Iraq while our troops and thousands of Iraqis are fighting a war. A small group of well-placed friends are walking away from this fiasco with unconscionable amounts of personal cash. More shame. The American administration has piled shame upon shame in the last 6 years.

Click on the title for the documented source.

The killers of Anna Politkovskaya found?

BBC is reporting that ten people have been arrested in Russia over the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Many of us have suspected – of course without a shred of evidence ourselves – that President Putin could have had a hand in her murder, since she was a persistent critic of his war in Chechnya. That there is any movement on the case surprises some of us [cynical as we are]. Let hope that the real criminals are found and punished. Anna Politkovskaya has to be one of the heroes of the journalism community – but of course she was only one of hundreds who have been killed because of their attempts to confront the extant systems of power. She was notable because she seemed to be undaunted, un-awed, by the imperious power of the Russian state.

Click on the title for the whole article.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Pakistani cabal

Nothing reveals more clearly how small the cabal that runs Pakistan is than the private deals being made between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto. The two act as if it were merely a matter of their coming to an agreement and then they will pull it off. And they will call it a democratic process. The Chief Justice’s move to allow Nawaz Sharif to return as well as Bhutto is a finger in the eye of both Musharraf and Bhutto. But the prospect that Bhutto and Sharif – both of whom have stayed outside of Pakistan in part because they are subject to trial for corruption – will via for control of Parliament further reveals how small the circle of “deciders” is in Pakistan. It is as if the “key three” – Musharraf, Bhutto, Sharif – will work out what to do among themselves and so resolve how to manage the affairs of that strategically important nuclear-powered country. So how many – or how few – key people actually have their hands on the mechanisms of power in that country? It seems only too evident that Pakistan has been and is being managed by a tiny group of elite folks acting in their best interest and calling it a kind of democracy.

This helps us to understand the strange contradiction: On the one hand this small cabal can manage affairs for the whole country among themselves; on the other hand, they lack the resources to find Osama Bin Laden. At least so they say.

For a late assessment of the situation click on the title.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Twice or thrice displaced Palestinians, still without a home.

Robert S. Eshelman has pointed out that as many as several hundred Palestinians have been forced to flee Iraq because of the war there, forcing them to arrive back home with no place to stay. Currently they are in a refugee camp. Whereas they have lived for many years in Iraq, apparently rather comfortably, now they are living in tents. Those in one camp survive only because aid organizations are providing them with water, pre-cooked meals, and other supplies. But a larger camp seems to be getting no support whatever. The Palestinian refugees from Iraq “have no nation to return to,” he says. There was a period when Iraq was a place for displaced Palestinians to flee to, but now that the Shia of Iraq have become militant they have been threatening the Palestinians, accusing them of being Wahhabis, even takfiris [refers to an extremist Islam embraced by Al Qaeda, not as Eshelman says, unbelievers], and forcing them out.
Click on the title for the whole article.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Another tragic rape: What will be the consequences?

The sad story of rape, again. One thing that would be nice to know is whether race or religious sect, as locally defined, had anything to do with it. There are Shia and Sunni and Hazara and Pushtun in Jaghori. One of the most interesting features of this story is that there seemed to be no attempt to deny the rape. In some other places, not far away, officials would have behaved differently. We all hope the two rapists will be punished. Yes, it is a shame on them and their families – all the more reason to make the story public. Unfortunately, the girl is often treated as damaged goods from here on.
Click on the title for the story.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The price of ignorance and arrogance

This comes from a recent interview reported by Josh Marshall. Ahmed Rashid, author of the famous book on the Taliban and of many other works about the course of events in Central and South Asia, has stated that the Bush administration has "actively rejected expertise and embraced ignorance." Such a statement is of course not new, at least to some of us, but the price of this truth worries me. Our highly trained professional military have paid dearly for this commitment to ignorance.

The question now is, is our government -- the administration and the congress also -- really doing any better? One has the feeling that, whereas the Bush administration has eschewed the knowledge that might enable competence, the democratic congress rushes to make decisions that are politically attractive to the American public with little regard for the long term implications. Surely the sentiment of a public, however importance it is for the political process, cannot be the ground for wise decision making about affairs on the other side of the world.

In our age, what has become of statesmanship? It is too easy to suppose that the American supremacy will continue as it has in the past. How many other great powers presumed themselves to be so secure and powerful that they did not need to care about affairs in the wider world? Or cared little what their arrogance might cost? How many of them have been wrong in the past? The United States is young by comparison with the great imperial systems of the past: Rome, the Ottomans, the Muslim empire of the 8th-10th century, the Yuan dynasty, etc. Will the modern world as we know it -- or as we think we know it -- survive without wise and competent leadership?

Click on the title for the interview and comment by Marshall.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Russia's growing clout in world affairs

The news that Russia is now sending its bombers on long-range flights as military exercises reflects the new confidence of the Putin regime. "We have decided to restore flights by Russian strategic aviation on a permanent basis," says Putin [in BBC report]. “Today Moscow's coffers are stuffed full of oil money,” says the BBC, and it wants “to show it is still a military power to reckon with.” Couple that with the July 4 report of the BBC indicating that the Russian economy is flourishing, at least the upper crust. According to the BBC retail sales rose 13% last year, well ahead of the rest of Europe. “And almost half the Russian people believe it important to be fashionably dressed.” “Last year, the number of so-called ‘high net worth individuals’ - people whose spending power exceeds $1m (£500,000) - in Russia rose 15.5%” about twice that of similar class folks around the globe. With all that wealth, Russia can afford to show that “it is still a military power to reckon with.” The strategic position of Russia – between energy hungry Europe and energy hungry China – may enable the Russian economy to continue to grow and for the country to again become a powerhouse, energy-wise if not otherwise.

Click to these sites for the full articles:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

‘Islamic Creationism’: A Turkish cultural export to the Muslim world

Sami Siddiq has been following the Islamic creationism issue. He has prepared the following analysis. I thank him for allowing me to put it here; it is his work alone. RLC

Sami Siddiq
August 5, 2007

Perhaps the most prolific propagator of ‘Islamic Creationism’ active in the Muslim world today is a Turkish man who goes by the pseudonym of “Harun Yahya” (real name: Adnan Oktar). In that he claims to have published over a hundred or so ‘books’ (read tracts) it’s more than likely he is merely the front man of a much larger outfit committed to the proliferation of contemporary Muslim apologetic literature. Whatever the case may be, it does not seem that Yahya could possibly corner the market on Islamic creationist publishing without a little help from some friends.

On his web-site,, one can find Yahya’s hostile opinions regarding almost every religion/ideology in the world other than Islam (I personally was unaware of negative Muslim views on Buddhism until I read what this fellow and his cohort had to say about it). Somehow, in every book that he ‘authors’, he manages to almost always sneak in a word (if not an entire chapter) denouncing Darwinism/ evolution. Even when the primary topic has no relation whatsoever to human evolution, Yahya finds a way to put the pieces together.

A rather deceptive ploy, used quite frequently in such writings, is the selective appropriation of testimonials/evidence against evolutionary theory in the form of outdated and disavowed concepts. Turkish creationists (dishonestly) attempt to link modern evolutionary theory with incorrect theories (such as Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s “inheritance of acquired characteristics”) that were disputed by Charles Darwin himself or by later discoveries. The intent of such deliberate falsifications must be to confuse non-technical readers with misrepresentations of the history of evolutionary thought rather than present any scientific evidence contradicting it.

Also on exhibit in glossy pictures are the historic evils of perverted Darwinian thought such as Herbert Spencer’s “Social Darwinism” used to rationalize and thereby justify European colonialism, as well as the American Eugenics movement whose ideas were brought into practice in Nazi Germany. It is obvious here that Yahya would like us to understand that a dogmatic acceptance of natural history as interpreted by evolutionists will inevitably result in the replacement of God and morality with Science and moral relativism if not complete amorality. If godlessness alone does not frighten you, then perhaps the dread of totalitarian regimes reliant upon incredibly subjective scientific “theories” alone for legitimacy might as well do the trick.

In a similar vein, Karl Marx’s materialist view of history is also merged within this category of “fascist” evolutionism and also condemned for disastrously genocidal policies in Stalinist Russia and Maoist China. If one follows what Yahya suggests here, even Communism, a social philosophy much discredited since the end of the Cold War, which no longer provides a viable doctrine for would-be revolutionaries, is still a menace to be feared by individuals if not states. Gentle readers are ostensibly warned to heed the lessons of history and recognize the evils that Darwin’s evolutionary path may quite possibly lead to yet again.

It bears mentioning here that evolutionary thought has not always been a contentious issue of public import among Islamic societies, especially not in the latter half of the last century until quite recently. One reason for this might be the lack of scientific achievement in the Islamic world over centuries of societal stagnation, colonialism, and post-colonial mediocrity that made evolutionary theory a non-issue for mostly illiterate and impoverished Muslims. As one of the few Muslim countries to have wholeheartedly embraced a secular modernity, it would follow that it is Turkey’s Islamists who are now, rather belatedly, at the forefront in attempting to critique it.

Another explanation for this previous lack of criticism could also be that the Quran provides a much more ambiguous account of the Creation than the explicit narrative found in the Old Testament. Whereas many Jewish and Christian theologians and scientists have advocated the benefits of a less literal reading of biblical scripture, the Islamic version while not explicit, remains somewhat open to interpretation and therefore also does not necessarily have be in conflict with scientific theory. Nevertheless, a popular misunderstanding of the theory in which men supposedly descended from apes has traditionally limited public discussion and understanding.

Seen within this context, Harun Yahya is truly a pioneer of sorts, although by no means an original thinker. A comparison of books belonging to the American creationist genre and Yahya’s own corpus of works might reveal some unsettling similarities between the two in terms of the choice of selective quotation from scientific and pseudo-scientific sources. While the bibliographies may be identical, the only obvious difference one can spot is that in Yahya’s works biblical citations are replaced with quotations from the Quran.

Plagiarist or not, fending off wicked Darwinist ideas to keep them from achieving hegemonic status within Turkish public discourses happens to be his forte (more likely his only schtick). He claims to do this out of a sense of pious duty in defense of the faith. I suspect this may in reality have a lot more to do with a not so indirect critique of Turkish secularism and the overwhelming influence of the military in matters of state and society.

Feigning moral outrage over the bogeyman presented by a Darwin makes for a less threatening statement vis-à-vis the Turkish establishment than directly accusing army generals of apostasy. Instead, science professors in Turkish universities have been targeted in a campaign of defamation and demonization in which faculty have suffered harassment and blacklisting as materialists or atheists in a predominantly Muslim society. In that it is much too easy to pick on naive and unsuspecting academics for allegedly popularizing evolutionary theory in the national education system, Harun Yahya and Co. found the perfect scapegoats for their witch-hunt; from whom there is little fear of physical retribution. Now that’s the kind demagoguery people see as courageous, no doubt.

In avoiding any discussions of politics or history related to the immediate condition of Muslim world, Yahya’s creationist fashion themselves as an otherwise non-subversive, quietist movement. However, in the minds of the faithful, of which there seem to be many these days if one considers the increasingly growing role of Islam in current Turkish political trends that have empowered Islamists against the avowedly secular state safeguarded by the military. Yet despite this strategy of subtlety, Yahya and friends have frequently found themselves at the receiving end of state harassment and have been arrested on a series of charges unrelated to their publishing duties.

What is odd though is that these Islamic creationist ideas are relevant even in Muslim countries far more backwards in scientific research in relation to Turkey itself, never mind the rest of the world. Translations can be found in several languages both online and in print courtesy of regional publishing and distributor offices around the world. Although many of these affiliates are located in some of the more obvious places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, there are several other conduits through which these books find their way to the West, e.g. France and Britain, as well as in the United States via publishers in Canada.

Most interesting (or disturbing) of all is that not only is much of the foolishness one finds in these books heavily borrowed from American creationist and ‘Intelligent Design’ literature, but the fact there is also a great deal of mutual cooperation between American and Turkish creationists. Unable to export their anti-evolutionist ideas elsewhere in the West, American creationists have found kindred spirits among Turkish Muslims who are more than happy to sample their wares.

What makes this interfaith cooperation particularly odd is that while much of humanity today finds itself in the grips of eschatological warfare in which both reactionary elements on both sides, Christian and Muslim, see themselves in civilizational struggle à la Samuel Huntington. Perhaps if Christian-Muslim dialogue could also be promoted to work towards more constructive goals for the betterment of humanity and global peace as opposed to preaching faith as a justification for trivial denial. Locating common ground between Westerners and Muslims, who are today either antagonistic or otherwise indifferent towards one another, might help to arrive at mutual respect and understanding as a befitting service to God.

For more on American-Turkish creationist cooperation, see:

Monday, August 13, 2007

Pakistan's endemic contradictions

Ilyas Khan of BBC News has recently summarized the contradictions that have plagued Pakistan from its very beginning. For anyone unfamiliar with the issues, this is a useful summary. The issues now facing Pakistan should worry all of us because this is indeed a very dangerous society, potentially destabilized by internal strife and armed with nuclear power.

Click on the title to see the whole article.

Finally, Musharraf admits what everyone has known for a long time

The BBC report on the recent “peace jirga” convened in Kabul by President Karzai indicates that Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf acknowledged that Pakistan's tribal regions “had harboured Taleban”. But the same article also says that the the Pakistan government denies that it has been “harbouring Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters,” pointing out, as always, that it “has arrested senior militants and is battling its own Taleban threat in its tribal areas.”

Such statements exemplify the contradictions entailed in this conference: Lots of promises and high sounding ideals [the signing of a declaration calling for “the suppression of the illegal drug trade and the promotion of economic projects in their border areas”] without the establishment of effective mechanisms for actually putting these ideals into practice. We can indeed hope that this conference will indicate that a corner has been turned, but we must wait to know if anything lasting comes of it. We have seen such things before.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

On the importance of getting news from the field: The New York Times and other international news sources.

Some of my friends won’t look at the NYT because it is, they say, “liberal”. My problem with that is that many of them are not otherwise availing themselves of news about the outside world, which means they merely deprive themselves of the kind of worldly information that our country and our world must have if they are to deal with the emerging new circumstances we are all caught up in. We keep on looking backwards, believing the platitudes that our country and every country tells themselves while in fact the world, through the medium of improved information technologies and ever faster and cheaper transport technologies, is getting functionally more connected – “integrated” yes, as we are often told by those who delight in the internet, but in some ways less integrated than forced together, cheek by jowl, whether we like it or not, into a set of relations with peoples whose ways of life confuse and offend us, even threaten us, even as ours confuse and threaten them. All the more reason for us to seek sources of news beyond our immediate horizons – not only because it is significant but because it might help us anticipate the real issues coming upon us, even to give us some perspective on what is happening to us now, in our own setting, that worries and offends us.

I recommend the New York Times to my friends, not because it is right all the time but because it has so many real people on the ground in so many places that their reports are as close to the real situations going on as any other news source. The bias of an editorial board needs to be distinguished from the value of empirical reports from the field. Dexter Filkin’s article a couple years ago on how difficult it was to get the “truth” of a gun battle when he went to the site exemplifies the problem folks have if they are to know what is going on in the world: there are many versions of an event, and virtually every source has a bias. So merely to read sources that have already filtered the “raw” reports from the field is no answer. Even if the sources are flawed we need to know what is going on the world. For that reason we seek access to the sources closest to situations, to learn what they see and hear. The solution to bias is not to remain ignorant: it has to be to listen as we best can to those sources closest to what is going on. The value news sources that provide “boots on the ground” is that they, if anyone, can best help us grasp what is going on in the world, even if the news is not good.

It seems significant to me that, despite many efforts otherwise by this administration, it now is admitting what the international news sources have been saying for years: the policies and actions of the American government have been disastrous for the world, also for the American people, a fact whose consequences will weigh upon my country for decades to come. It is a legacy to the next generation. As they become aware of the squandering of good will and material wealth that has taken place in the last six years, will they not condemn this generation of leaders, and even the public who elected them uncritically, ignorantly, even basking in their own ignorance? I urge upon my friends who reject the New York Times because of its reports on international news to seek other sources of empirical information so that they can be informed as they best can. This could mean going to other international news sources: The Guardian, or The Independent in Britain, Le Monde if they know French, or otherwise to make a point of looking at the best news sources around the world (Also the Washington Post, and the McClatchy papers in the U.S., which have a good reputation even though they are much smaller). Knowing that what anyone “knows” is faulty and must be rectified by continual diligence in seeking the best information from the field, none of us can depend on commentators who have scarce perception of what the rest of the world is like.

The State of Affairs in "The Good War" (Afghanistan)

Today’s NYTimes has a front page article on the situation in Afghanistan that extends onto two more full pages, with maps to illustrate the continuous decline of government control since 2001, “How the ‘good war’ in Afghanistan went bad,” by David Rohde and David E. Sanger, both of them old hands in the field. For some, who have been following the situation there, the general message is not new. It does however provide neat displays of the how bad things have gone. The article itself notes the contrast between high sounding offers of help to the Afghanistan peoples [“Marshall Plan”] and the dilatory and in fact indifferent attempts to put things in motion on the ground. The value of the article is that it gathers into one short space a summation of – again – what the administration did wrong. It ends with a statement by Henry Crumpton, who has dealt with issues there for several years, that the necessity to put American personnel on the ground to “get in at a local level and respond to people’s needs” was never recognized. “These are the fundamentals of counterinsurgency, and somehow we forgot them or never learned them.” The tragedy of all this is that this is where the real “war on terror” should have been waged and our government, for reasons that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack, focused its attention elsewhere. As a former NATO supreme commander said it, we took our eye off the ball. In the end, a failure here will multiply the disaster taking form in Iraq.

This articled appears as Sarah Chayes's new book The Punishment of Virtue is being distributed. She tells her story from a very specific location, Kandahar, and from a specific viewpoint, as an official in a local NGO. What becomes ever more clear to her is the failure of the Americans, and of the Afghanistan leaders as well, to give to the folks in that country the kind of support and responsible leadership they deserve and crave. One comes away from this book with the sense that in the end the Afghanistan peoples are being betrayed again, as they have been for so many years already. No wonder they have a long history of distrust of outsiders.