Hubris

Gazprom, the Russian energy giant has recently collared the distribution of Turkmen oil and gas. This means that the proposed pipeline through Afghanistan to the Indian ocean is history and the sacrifice of NATO troops is for nothing. Why have the media not picked this up? Why do the macho pistol-packers who "govern" us continue to want to fight? For democracy? Hah! We offer this sad fairy tale to mark the stupidity and hubris of the current crop of politicians.

Long, long ago, in a country far, far away, there lived a Prince. The Prince was considered very handsome by his admirers. He had a nice smile and he looked honest and dependable, just like the guy next door. He walked with a swagger that appealed to those who wanted him to cut a figure in the world, and when he talked he talked like they did. He seemed to be religious and people, taking him as they found him, assumed him to be a pious and god-fearing man. So he was popular. He was also rich, because he had inherited his position.

But the prince was a bit lazy. He would get up late, go hunting and clear some brushwood to impress the peasants, or hang out on his extensive country estate, leaving the running of his princedom to the ambitious and power-hungry around him.

The Prince's Daddy had been Prince before him, but the young man dispensed with Daddy's advisors, who were at least experienced, even if their knowledge was sketchy. Instead, the young Prince hired a group of people who were specifically chosen because they knew absolutely everything there was to know about everything. Every advisor was absolutely right and arrived at his post with clear ideas as to what should be done about policies of every type, from growing onions to the thickness of horseshoes. The prince was delighted to have such a formidable group of advisors, although some disgruntled outsiders pointed out that some of these people were agents of a foreign power, and others were the hirelings of various business interests and rich and powerful barons.

But the Prince, wanting more time to hang out on his extensive country estate, and not wanting facts that might confuse him, dismissed these objections as products of envy.

Then one day a group of hostile tribesmen, who hated the prince, the freedom and happiness enjoyed by his people, the ancient Constitution, the easy-going way he ruled and the masses of money floating around, carried out a brazen attack on the Prince's princedom. By any measure it was a serious attack and not only the lives of the Prince's subjects were lost, but the lives of many hundreds of foreigners, attracted by liberty and low taxes, were also forfeit. Something had to be done, that much was clear. Not only that, but a nearby country that produced a magic potion, called oil, wanted to send it through the self-same territory. But the land had to be secured from bandits before this could be achieved.

So the Prince gathered together his advisors and they all told him how rich and powerful he was, that he had more weapons than anyone ever in the history of the world and that it was a two-day job to crush the grubby little tribesmen and show them who was boss. In no time the country would be pacified and the magic potion could be safely transported from the nearby producer. This seemed a good idea.

So large groups of cavalry and foot soldiers were assembled, along with the latest catapults, siege engines, automatic bows and arrows, spear-deflecting armor, guided cow carcass-hurling weaponry and boiling lead-spraying machines. Off they set and, sure enough, within days occupied the group of run-down mud huts that passed for the "capital' of the hostile tribe. The usual burning, thieving and torture went on, associated with warfare long, long ago, in countries far, far away. The leaders of the tribal government were either killed or sent to a special holding facility by the seaside, where they could cause no trouble. The Prince's generals were mighty pleased with themselves, but made it clear that the army couldn't possibly stay in the conquered capital for long. It was hot, dusty, and dirty. The beds were uncomfortable and the food foreign and disgusting. When asked whether they shouldn't pacify the countryside, they answered that the trick with wild tribesmen was to put on a big show of force, which would gain respect. Once this was done, they would cause no more trouble. In truth, the top officers secretly wanted to get back to their wives and kids, and didn't fancy being stuck on bare mountainsides at six thousand feet, eating sheep's eyes and having a bath only once a month.

So the customary ingratiating yes-man was appointed governor with a show of pomp and circumstance. He had no local constituency and little support. He was told "toe the line", or else. You're part of our empire now." He was quite happy to do his best; he had been an oil lamp salesman previously, and this was a step up for him, even if he knew it couldn't last.

Much was the rejoicing among the Prince's subjects when the troops came home. Everybody congratulated everyone else on a job well done. Now the prized magic potion could be made available to the waiting world, and all would be swetness and light.

Some know-all academic pointed out that no less than two other powers, also with modern medieval weapons and overwhelming force, had historically invaded the territory of the tribesmen-terrorists to crush them and show them who was boss. Both had had initial success and were hailed as heroes. The tribe was chastised, its emir deposed and for a while all was well. Then the trouble had started. In medieval days they hadn't invented the word "guerilla", but the know-all academic explained that the invaders simply couldn't cope with small bands of fanatics with old-fashioned bows and arrows, who attacked the invaders and melted away into the fly-blown hills and were never caught.

Total nonsense, said the Prince's advisors, all of whom were absolutely right and arrived at their posts with clear ideas as to what should be done about policies of every type, from growing onions to the thickness of horseshoes. We have bigger and better catapults, siege engines, automatic bows and arrows, spear-deflecting armor, guided cow carcass-hurling weaponry and boiling lead-spraying machines than ever those other fellows had. He doesn't know what he's talking about. This guy is unpatriotic. History? Bunk!

But the academic had not been talking nonsense. Un-noticed and unreported (there were few friendly people left to report it), the trouble started. The tribesmen, who sensibly hid among the rocks when the catapults, siege engines, automatic bows and arrows, spear-deflecting armor, guided cow carcass-hurling weaponry and boiling lead spraying machines arrived, now emerged and slaughtered anyone associated with the new "emir", or who cooperated with the forces of the handsome Prince. Money meant for reconstruction and improvements simply vanished. Some unexpectedly very rich people emerged, many of them friends and cronies of the self-same advisors, who were absolutely right and had arrived at their posts with clear ideas as to what should be done about policies of every type. But as usual nothing much was done for the tribesmen. And the magic oil was not transported through the territory.

This was how the Prince and his Princedom became involved in an endless war against "terrorism" in his new domains. As the grubby little tribesmen took to the hills to defend their freedom and their age-old right to steal each other's goats and sheep, the Prince had to send the army that was supposed to have conquered the tribesmen to try once again to subdue the tribes. Sulky and disaffected, his soldiers holed themselves up in bunkers and were too terrified to venture out for the usual burning, thieving and torture associated with warfare long, long ago, in countries far, far away. As they drifted back on leave they told their friends about the crass incompetence of the Prince and his always-right advisors, and as time went by the guerilla war became a consuming topic of conversation throughout the Princedom. But the Prince could not remove his troops, because this would absolutely guarantee further revolts against his rule and an exponential growth in the number of greatly-encouraged "terrorists". Meanwhile, the existing freedom fighters continued their activities with impunity, such was the poor morale of troops and subjects of the Prince.

Well, you can guess the end of the story. The rule of the nearby kingdom and producer of the magic oil became exasperated and did a deal with someone else. Who could blame him? The Prince pretended that nothing had happened and was in due course deposed and his advisers hung from the rafters. This was considered only fair, given the stupidity and arrogance of their ways. This outcome could only occur, of course, where sound and fair information was available to the populace and there was a level playing field. To suggest that it could happen in modern times is laughable.

Note:the British had two goes at conquering this country; the Russians had one. Both failed for the same reason. What makes you think the current war will be any more successful?