Mike's Reviews > Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia

Taliban by Ahmed Rashid
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's review
Aug 13, 2009

really liked it
Recommended to Mike by: those with hearts cold, bleeding, or otherwise
Read in July, 2009

The Taliban are an armed bunch of louts who see the world as a figurative sheep waiting to be fucked by the awesome power of their backwoods version of Islam. Their favorite point of entry has been in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region, and they took particular delight in shafting Kabul, treating it as just a larger version of the shithole village they probably grew up in, making all the men grow bears and forcing all the women from the streets. Never mind these clowns have no idea how to run a civil society, God will provide. Assuming God takes the form of humanitarian aid organizations perhaps — for now — they are right.

Those defending Afghanistan from the Taliban goons are pretty close to terminally ugly themselves, the sort of people who will toss a thief into the treads of a moving tank in order to literally grind out an example of justice.

Operating amidst these two unsavory power structures are various oil companies working to foster enough stability to extract and move oil from this treacherous terrain to a safer market. Even operating with maximum allowed pragmatism — sometimes outcry at home manages to limit their choice of allies — they have had little success in establishing a profitable oil or natural gas enterprise in the region. Meanwhile those who move less difficult items, things like heroin, black market consumer items, and weapons have been able to thrive in this chaos.

Ahmed Rashid covers his topic with expert familiarity and the sort of sympathy one reserves for a cancer ward. If you want a closer look at what people mean by 'unstable region' this book will do the trick. Just don't go into it looking for heroes.
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