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The tribal raider is unable to imagine any higher idea than the honor of his family. But Islam adds the idea of the meta-tribal identity. The Islamic Ummah as the ultimate tribe. It is an idea that allowed Mohammed and his successors to loot and pillage their way across much of the world. And the world is bleeding from a million wounds, stabbed, cut and pierced by the followers of that idea.
The things that the tribesman loots for in this world are given to him twice over in paradise if he dies in battle. And if he suspects that the paradise overflowing with virgins, gold jewelry and pungent wines is a lie that the elders and clerics tell to get him to risk his life while they remain behind with their share of the virgins, gold and wine in this world– to say so openly would be blasphemy.
It is no wonder that the Taliban found its perfect breeding ground in Afghanistan. Just as variants like Al-Shabaab found theirs in equally backward places such as Somalia. The purity that the Wahhabis seek is really barbarism. And it is most easily found in the most backward places. The least civilized countries.
The Taliban may have repressed Afghanistan, but they did not add very much that was not already there. Afghanistan is not Persia, a place that Afghans looking for freedom and opportunity flee to today. Their edicts and brutality made Afghanistan worse, but the difference was most notable in Kabul, and far less so in more backward provinces. As the Taliban return, so does a surge of brutality. But it is a surge that adds to the existing brutality in the official and unofficial systems.
Will the Taliban rule in Afghanistan? In a sense they always have. Long before the Taliban existed, the gleeful cruelty, the dogmatic brutalization and the culture of fear reigned in Afghanistan. The Taliban contribution was the linkup through Pakistan and now Iran with a global Jihad. The local raid giving way to the global raid. The persecution of Christians in Afghanistan giving way to September 11. Exploding Buddhas transitioning to falling skyscrapers.
The terrible genius of Islam is that it took the violence of the tribe and the clan and sanctified it. Islam elevated the vendetta to the highest form of religious service. The one that is above all others.
20th century Islamists took the ugly tribal feud and globalized it. They took backward places like Afghanistan and turned them into platforms for a global war. We may be able to save ourselves from the puppet masters behind this shadow war, but we cannot save the Afghans from themselves.
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