Monday, August 23, 2010

Living With The Taliban

While this video is a far less polished and professional effort, it does strongly remind me of the excellent "Dining With Terrorists" series by Phil Rees.

Video is always a tricky medium to evaluate. We are shown a montage of images with no real way to tell under what circumstances they were shot, or whether the action portrayed is staged or candid. And this is true of all video, even that shown on mainstream media. Yet, to most of us, more polished and professional efforts are inherently more credible, until they cross an invisible threshold at which excessive polish actually erodes credibility.

So then, how shall we evaluate this video in particular?

Most of us evaluate the unknown by comparing it to the known. And just how much relevant knowledge do most of us have on this subject? There are things we think we know, but do we really know those things, or are they simply what we have been schooled to believe?

We have all heard the phrase "hearts and minds" often enough in recent months to make us ill at the very mention. Those of us old enough, remember that phrase from America's last failed adventure in direct imperialism, in a place called Vietnam. And yet in a very real sense insurgency is about precisely that; it is a political struggle, not a military struggle, and can only be won by political means. And politics, my friends, takes place in the mind.

What the Pentagon and the White House seem to have overlooked is that the hearts and minds being fought over are not just those in Afghanistan, but those in the United States of America, as well.

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