Friday, August 5, 2011
Taliban by Ahmed Rashid: Book Review
It's dense with facts and historical significance about the Taliban's rise in the last century. Some of the information has been widely reported in the press. Other information has not, especially how oil and gas companies attempted to become involved in a region they knew nothing about. What Rashid, a Pakastini journalist beautifully brings to this account is the detailed information culled from wide ranging interviews of the Talabani political players. Yes, the information is by now historical, however, to gain a deeper understanding of how we arrived from there to here, this book is invaluable.
There is caveat. The read will take you a while; the book's organization is turgid and the facts are presented in a non readerly fashion. It will take your full powers of concentration if you intend to read the book faciley and as a result it is not for the faint of heart nor is it a summer read. Rashid has added a brief update of the period after the September 11, 2001 attacks and prognosticates what all of us already know: "The Taliban are the principal defenders and protectors of Al Qaeda and its attempts to spread global jihad by enticing young people into its web of international violence and terrorism."(246)
But his affirmation must be repeated again and again to encourage the West's will and resolve in this time of economic and social upheaval in the Middle East of the likes that we have seen this year in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya and other Arab states. "The Taliban will remain a danger to the world until local Muslim governments and the West commit to the effort needed to combat extremism as well as to deal with the outstanding problems of poverty, economic malaise, lack of education and joblessness amongst the populaces of the region...by encouraging a vast new social and economic development program in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia." (246)
Considering the problems that the West is facing from Muslim extremists in Australia, the UK and other Euro zone countries as well as in Southeast Asia's Pakistan and India, his point is well taken. Ben Laden, the aura of his greatness has been eliminated, but only for a season. What shadows lie beneath will eventually come to the fore and only the move toward economic equity, social parity and stability will heal the galactic rift along the religious and cultural divides between Muslims and non Muslims to help overcome Muslim extremism.