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Afghanistan Bananistan: Mark Steyn explains it all to you because I’m busy cleaning my gun

Mark Steyn writes:

To reprise a line from a decade-old column of mine:

Afghanistan is about Afghanistan – if you’re Afghan or Pakistani. But, if you’re Russian or Chinese or Iranian or European, Afghanistan is about America.

That’s the point to remember: if you’re an Afghan schoolgirl, today is the fall of Kabul; elsewhere, in the chancelleries of allies and enemies alike, it’s the fall of America. Even by their usual wretched standards, the world’s most somnolent media are struggling to stay up to speed on the story. Here’s the scoop from USA Today:

Taliban’s Afghanistan Advance Tests Biden’s ‘America Is Back’ Foreign Policy Promise

You don’t say! Did he misread the prompter, or mishear the guy in his ear? “America is on its back”, surely?

But don’t worry, the world’s most lavishly over-funded “intelligence community” is on the case:

Kabul Could Fall To The Taliban Within 90 Days, U.S. Intelligence Warns

Thank you, geniuses. That was Thursday. So it turned out to be well within ninety hours – which is close enough for US intelligence work.

Was this the same “seventeen intelligence agencies” who all agreed Russia had meddled in the 2016 election – and with whose collective intelligence only a fool would disagree?

Or perhaps it was only one intelligence agency – most likely the crack agents of the highly specialized Federal Unitary Central Kabul Western Intelligence Tracking Service.

To modify Hillary Clinton, what difference at this point would it make if the US government simply laid off its entire “intelligence community”?

Indeed, what difference would it make if it closed down its military? Obviously, it would present a few mid-life challenges for its corrupt Pentagon bureaucracy, since that many generals on the market for defense lobbyist gigs and board directorships all at once would likely depress the going rate. But, other than that, a military that accounts for 40 per cent of the planet’s military spending can’t perform either of the functions for which one has an army: it can’t defeat overseas enemies, and it’s not permitted to defend the country, as we see on the Rio Grande.

So what’s the point?

Oh, oh, but, if a nation doesn’t have an army to defend it, a quarter-of-a-million foreign invaders could just walk into the country with impunity every month!

The scale of America’s global humiliation is so total that I see my friends at Fox News cannot even bear to cover it. As I write, every other world network – the BBC, Deutsche Welle, France 24, not to mention the Chinese – is broadcasting the collapse of the American regime in real time; on Fox, meanwhile, they’re talking about the spending bill and the third Covid shot and the dead Haitians …as if the totality of the defeat is such that for once it cannot be fixed into the American right’s usual consolations (“well, this positions us pretty nicely for 2022”).

On the leftie side, of course, the court eunuchs have risen as one to protect the Dementia Kid, and are working as hurriedly as the Kabul document-shredders in an effort to figure out a way to blame it all on Trump.

But don’t for a moment think this is just some rushed, bungled, memo-incinerating abandonment of the US embassy. State Department diplomats have been preparing this move all summer, under cover of a highly sophisticated deflection operation on their Kabul Twitter feed:

The month of June is recognized as (LGBTI) Pride Month. The United States respects the dignity & equality of LGBTI people & celebrates their contributions to the society. We remain committed to supporting civil rights of minorities, including LGBTI persons. #Pride2021 #PrideMonth

I do hope they’ve managed to evacuate the embassy’s LGBTQWERTY flag before the sacking commences.

One of the depressing aspects of the Swamp is that everything becomes a racket – including even your armed forces. Look at that buffoon at top right, the guy who heads the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Thoroughly Modern Milley: that’s an awful lot of chest ribbonry for a nation that hasn’t won a war in three-quarters of a century. During his recent wokier-than-thou Congressional testimony on “white rage”, I wish someone would have asked Thoroughly Modern what they were all for:

Well, this is for Korea… Vietnam… This small ribbon’s for the Jimmy Carter helicopters-in-the-desert fiasco, because that went tits up far quicker than it usually takes… Here’s the Pentagon Female Empowerment Award I got for introducing Take Your Child Bride To Work Day to Jalalabad… This one’s from the Association of Non-Binary Staff Colleges for Most Transitions in a Single Battalion… Oh, and this most recent one is for getting into a Twitter spat over Tucker Carlson…

If you don’t have total contempt for Milley and the rest of the brass right now, you’re part of the problem.

I’m in favor of razing the Pentagon and salting the earth – or, at the very least, firing Milley and the massed ranks of “parade generals” (a useful Commonwealth term) and moving the few guys left to a new HQ in a strip-mall on the edge of Cleveland. The bigger your armed forces get, the more they become a racket – as the US-created “Afghan National Army” “300,000-strong” (and now down to, oh, twenty-seven maybe) has just conveniently demonstrated. As for where all the money wound up, the Taliban’s tour of American “ally” and former Afghan vice-president “Marshal” Dostum’s palatial spread provides a clue.

I’ve said for years, into the void of silence from Bill Kristol, Max Boot and the rest of the shock’n’awe crowd on the laughably misnamed “national-security right”, that the entire American way of war needs rethinking. I did it on Fox just a month ago:

We mentioned General Milley on ‘white rage’ at the top of the show. That’s not the most dispiriting remark by an American general in recent days. That award would have to go to the Nato commander supervising our exit from Afghanistan. From The Daily Mail:

‘General Austin Scott Miller, commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, said he was shocked by how quickly the Afghan National Army had surrendered to the Taliban.’

I don’t know whether he’s a three-star, four-star, 137-star general, but a guy who professes to be shocked by how quickly the Afghan National Army is surrendering to the Taliban has no business being a general at all…

For twenty years American taxpayers have trained and paid an Afghan National Army that’s fallen apart in twenty minutes. Here they are surrendering to the Taliban. Don’t all throw down your weapons at once, lads…

Over a thousand so-called Afghan National Army troops have fled into Tajikistan, so Tajikistan has sent 20,000 reservists to secure its southern border.

We can’t secure our southern border because we’re too busy training Afghans to flee across Tajikistan’s southern border.

As for the enemy, the good news is that if your regime is attacked by America you’ll likely wind up with even more territory than you started with:

The Taliban now controls more of Afghanistan than it did before the US invaded in 2001.

That happens to be true: the only change effected over two decades of Nato occupation is that the Taliban now controls northern Afghanistan, which it didn’t do on October 7th 2001. But don’t worry; here’s how US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spent his Saturday night:

Very productive conversation with Canadian Foreign Minister @MarcGarneau about our efforts to reach a diplomatic solution in Afghanistan.

In the course of that “very productive” telephone call, the Taliban took three more cities.

America is not “too big to fail”: It’s failing by almost every metric right now. The world-record brokey-brokey-brokeness manifested by the current spending bills is only possible because the US dollar is the global currency. When that ends, we’re Weimar with smartphones. Clearly, Chairman Xi and his allies occasionally muse on the best moment to yank the dollar out from under. If you were in Beijing watching telly today, would you perhaps be considering advancing those plans?

In other words, is this not merely a humiliation but America’s Suez moment? In my bestseller After America, I recalled a long-ago conversation with the Countess of Avon (Clarissa Churchill, Winston’s niece, widow of the then prime minister Anthony Eden – and still with us at the splendid age of 101). Somewhere along the way, Lady Avon observed ruefully that the eight days of the Suez crisis in late 1956 marked the great divide between the words “British Empire” being still taken seriously and their being a sneering punchline.

The last eight days may well do the same for the term “global superpower”. Right now, as I said on Rush last year, it’s China’s world; we just pay for it.

Just to jolly things up, here’s a vignette of the way things used to be, from July’s edition of our Hundred Years Ago Show:

When Princess Fatima of the Afghan royal family arrived in Washington, she was anxious to be received at the White House by President Harding. His Britannic Majesty’s ambassador, Lord Hardinge, was most disturbed by this, and protested to the State Department that Afghanistan was within the British sphere of influence and it was not appropriate for the White House to go around throwing official receptions for emissaries of that country as if it had the right to conduct foreign relations. The State Department agreed, pointing out that America was so uninterested in Afghanistan they didn’t even have a file on the country.

Lord Hardinge thought everything was hunky-dory, and then he woke up to find the newspapers full of photographs of President Harding receiving Princess Fatima, erroneously described as the Sultana of Afghanistan.

The press accounts are full of puzzling details: Her Royal Highness was accompanied by someone styled the ‘State Department Naval Liaison Officer’, a position that does not appear to exist, and by a second man representing himself as the Crown Prince of Egypt, even though he was no such thing. Princess Fatima herself, although perfectly fluent in English, having been educated in India and Britain, told President Harding she did not speak his language and insisted on talking to him through an interpreter, apparently to make herself seem more important. The State Department has now been forced to open a file on Afghanistan.

America’s Afghan policy, from 1921 to 2021 – and, in defiance of the usual trajectory, first farce, then tragedy. A decade or so back, I quoted Bernard Lewis:

I was on a panel with the great Bernard Lewis a couple of years ago – actually six or seven years ago – and Bernard said that the danger here is that America risks being seen as harmless as an enemy, and treacherous as a friend… It’s a very dangerous lesson to teach the planet.

“Harmless as an enemy, and treacherous as a friend”: a devastating indictment, and entirely correct. But it neglects the ultimate reality: the bungling superpower can inflict defeat only on itself.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Zaphod August 16, 2021, 5:53 PM

    (Posting this here, because apparently I’m a Troll now over at my usual place.)

    FWIW here’s what the Taliban Big Kahuna supposedly had to say about winning bigly:


    Can’t find a bunch of citations, but is just conceivable is accurate reporting and if so should be obvious why won’t be making front page of NYT anytime soon. Regardless of one’s personal feelings, it seems pretty stupid not to pay attention to one’s enemies when they are telling you what they want and plan and what they think about you.

    As always the Z Man has good stuff at his blog and in his weekly Taki Post. I particularly liked the bit about America’s Rulers being more interested in fundamentally transforming Legacy Americans than Afghans.

  • Lagman August 16, 2021, 6:09 PM

    America is likely a “failed state”.
    We the People need to start at the local level pushing back on any infringement on our Freedoms and the absolute restrictions on the federal government enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Additionally, all need now obtain a copy of their state constitution and amendments, study the same and push back on state imposters.
    The police unions need to review the oaths their officers swore and live by them; managing behavior to the contract that the last w h o r e politician that signed it is no longer a viable strategy.
    Separately, every Reader should consider copying and pasting this message to your senators and congressional representative:
    AT THIS MOMENT (hh:mm am or pm (zone)T; AUG. 16TH, 2021) – WHO IS IN
    As American Citizens we deserve an answer and to know whether we are living in a failed state.

  • Gordon Scott August 16, 2021, 7:43 PM

    Well, Zaphod, like Oscar Wilde, you can’t be pithy, witty and embarrassingly on point too long, because they’ll accuse you of something nasty. Of course, today Oscar would be celebrated for buggery but condemned for insufficient wokeness.

  • Andy Texan August 16, 2021, 8:13 PM

    The people responsible are not fit to be leaders. I think the time has arrived to choose sides.

  • Casey Klahn August 16, 2021, 10:11 PM

    It smarts like hell to be mocked by a Britisher, but I have to admit Mark Steyn is on point, and about %100 of the time.

    My son reports, tonight, that the DW, 4chan and worldwide web is on fire about this, and Americans of the younger stripe are mad as hell.

    I like the game we’ve played, where many of us shit talked Afghanistan for about 15 years, and now, all of a sudden, it isn’t just an unimportant hellhole. It is the demise of America’s power stance in the world. Which, it more than likely is. People everywhere are mad as hell about this, and Biden might be out almost as fast as the they can brief Ms Harris to take over.


    Elsewhere I said: never lose a war. To flesh that out, every time a nation enters into a war, no matter how asymmetric it is…I don’t care if it’s God vs. Bolivia, or The Galactic Empire vs. Disneyland Tokyo…said nation lays its sovereignty on the line. Fuck up, and lose prestige, deterrence, credibility, diplomacy (I just about choked on that word now). Tell me how the next conference goes, say, in the Baltic States, when we promise them defense against the Russian bear. They’ll run away from us as fast as humanly possible.

  • Fletcher Christian August 17, 2021, 3:59 AM

    Not just militarily, either. It’s a standing joke that the nation that considers itself the most technologically advanced is anything but that.
    Some “high” points:
    Banking system two decades out of date. I’m a Brit, and don’t even have a chequebook; just about every financial transaction can be completed on my phone, and “chip and pin” card readers are commonplace.
    For civilians, the US communications system is a bad joke. Broadband speed, for example.
    Large fraction of one of the richest states having a power cut when it gets cold.

    Sure, the USA is a big and empty country and one can expect primitivity in the sticks; but these comments apply to major cities.

    And as for the healthcare system; let’s not go there, eh?

    • Jim August 18, 2021, 7:28 AM

      Chip and pin readers became commonplace in the usa a few years back. Virtually every transaction I make now uses one. I write about one check a month. Broadband covers most americans, but whether you have 30 mbps or 300 it doesn’t much matter (not really). The USA is around 40X as large as great britain, so maybe you can forgive the country for not having the same level of infrastructure granted to each person as on a small island. Every major city has ubiquitous broadband coverage.

      The health care insurance system I can’t defend any longer. I don’t believe many people who’ve actually had to use it to any real extent can. It’s a national travesty.

  • Snakepit Kansas August 17, 2021, 4:34 AM

    I don’t think we can win a limited war against a bunch of folks that have little regard for human life. Until we are willing to go to a place to kill and destroy everyone and everything there, then we have no business going to war. The last time we did this was when we nuked Japan. We don’t have the will to solve the problem of gang crime in Chicago (Baltimore, Philadelphia, etc.) yet we think we can to to the far reaches of backward assed Asia and Africa to introduce a better way of life with LGBQ rights. FFS.

  • Kevin in PA August 17, 2021, 5:00 AM
  • Zaphod August 17, 2021, 6:15 AM

    Spengler channels Cardinal Richelieu again:


    Subscriber only if you click on the link. Free if you subscribe to the homos at Apple News (guilty as charged).

  • John Venlet August 17, 2021, 6:40 AM

    This alleged “defeat” in Afghanistan is just another distraction, meant to keep the public confused and susceptible to the next manufactured bugaboo. There are the daily bugaboos; Dementia Joe, the Gain of Function Flu (manmade), the illegal entry into America down at the border, etc.; these events are being managed to distract Americans attention from the tyrannical control being put into place to rule every aspect of their lives. Is the United States being laughed at and mocked around the world? Indeed it is, by every country ever rescued by Americans, and who in large part remain in need of American support for just about every aspect of their existence. I really do not care about these other countries needs. Have we abandoned Afghans? In a world where a country’s word previously had merit, yes, but that world was left behind after the fall of VietNam. You cannot fix other country’s problems when your own nation, America, is failing. Americans should be focused on attempting to restore the republic America once was, though I think Franklin was correct when he stated we have a republic, if we can keep it. Disregard the foreign distractions, focus on our problems here at home.

  • Tom Hyland August 17, 2021, 6:52 AM

    James Howard Kunstler has offered his latest thoughts regarding how damaged the American posture has become. This is a segment here… “Since when did the American Left become so pro-tyranny, and how’d that even happen? I have friends and relatives — I’m sure you do, too — who knocked themselves out in the 1960s protesting against the war, the government, the FBI, and the CIA… who fought in the streets for free speech and raged against official propaganda — and today they can’t get enough of coercing, punishing, brain-washing, and cancelling their fellow citizens. They’re going so far now as to engineer their vicious narrative to brand their opponents as “domestic terrorists.” Think that’s going to work?” Read on….

  • Tom Hyland August 17, 2021, 7:23 AM

    I’ve always enjoyed this poem by Rudyard Kipling about the British soldier in Afghanistan. The last paragraph is chilling.

  • ghostsniper August 17, 2021, 7:27 AM

    @John and Tom, you both are right of course. A big distraction made even bigger by the criminal media. ‘ghanistan? I couldn’t care less. Shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Saving face…losing grace? The US gov’t hasn’t had either in at least half a century.

    Look how the gov’t treats it’s own citizens. Why would it treat foreign countries any better? Can you even imagine the horrifying criminal hillary clinton as a US representative? Foreign diplomats around the world balled their frustrated fists under the table when she hissed through her evil lips. This country is soooo fucked. Best find your own way cause it’s all coming apart.

  • Kevin in PA August 17, 2021, 7:29 AM

    This is precisely why the political right needs to quit calling the left “liberal”. They are anything but liberal….they are a bunch of jerk-knee fascists, hypocritical control freaks, whiney-ass commie sympathizing, ignorant twats. They are not liberal.

    And as Tom says, RTWT. Every word. But the paragraph following the very excerpt you quoted above is even more poignant.-
    “…..They’re going so far now as to engineer their vicious narrative to brand their opponents as “domestic terrorists.” Think that’s going to work?
    “I doubt it. And the fall of Afghanistan is sure to spark a resentful reaction among the many ex-soldiers who paid a heavy price pulling tours of duty in that hapless venture over twenty years. There’s a lot of them out there in Red America, and they were already pissed-off about the pernicious nonsense being jammed down their throats by the minions of Wokesterism: the race-and-gender hustles, the off-the-charts rise of violent crime, the wide-open border, the off-shoring of jobs, the Covid lockdowns and wrecking of small business, the MMT experiment launching inflation, and the new pussification of the armed forces they served and suffered in. They’ve laid rather low through years of this, just watching the scene in wonder and nausea, but you may see them turn more active now. And consider: they’ve been well-trained in weaponry and tactics.”

    The last sentence says it all and the idiots in charge of this government are so detached from reality, so steeped in their hubris that they can not see this.

  • Dirk August 17, 2021, 7:45 AM

    Isn’t it amusing how the fall of Afghanistan has cured the China bug!


  • Skorpion August 17, 2021, 8:06 AM

    Something to consider: two years after the Soviet Union fled Afghanistan with their tails between their legs, what happened?
    The 1991 collapse of Communism.
    Will 2023 see the fall of our own Establishment?

  • Terry Hunt August 17, 2021, 8:08 AM

    Kevin in PA-
    You just struck one of my raw nerves. To call the leftists ‘Liberals’ is an indication of one being totally fooled by Communist word smithing. A classical definition of the word liberal, is a total 180 degree opposite meaning of what some people on our side perceive.

    These bastards are not in the least, liberal. They are Communist.

  • El Polacko August 17, 2021, 8:11 AM

    Can we all just take a deep breath here?

    Do we really want to waste one more drop of American blood or US Taxpayer’s red cent in the “Graveyard of Empires”?

    Pulling out of that god forsaken Afghani hellhole is probably the only thing that Old Gropey Joe Biden has ever done that I agree with!

    There would never be any “right way” to do pull out of Afghanistan, and now its the Communist Chinese turn to guard the worlds opium crop, while facing a Taliban re-armed with some of the best US military equipment in the world, which will soon be useless because they have no idea how to maintain it.

    This is just another “great distraction” for something else is coming down the pike, most likely greasing the skids for the removal of Old Gropey Joe and installing the chosen representative of the Silicon Valley’s Hindu Ruling Caste, President Kamala Harris.

  • ghostsniper August 17, 2021, 8:36 AM

    There be those who say that things and places have souls, and there be those who say they have not; I dare not say, myself, but I will tell of The Street.

    Men of strength and honour fashioned that Street; good, valiant men of our blood who had come from the Blessed Isles across the sea. At first it was but a path trodden by bearers of water from the woodland spring to the cluster of houses by the beach. Then, as more men came to the growing cluster of houses and looked about for places to dwell, they built cabins along the north side; cabins of stout oaken logs with masonry on the side toward the forest, for many Indians lurked there with fire-arrows. And in a few years more, men built cabins on the south side of The Street.

    Up and down The Street walked grave men in conical hats, who most of the time carried muskets or fowling pieces. And there were also their bonneted wives and sober children. In the evening these men with their wives and children would sit about gigantic hearths and read and speak. Very simple were the things of which they read and spoke, yet things which gave them courage and goodness and helped them by day to subdue the forest and till the fields. And the children would listen, and learn of the laws and deeds of old, and of that dear England which they had never seen, or could not remember.

    There was war, and thereafter no more Indians troubled The Street. The men, busy with labour, waxed prosperous and as happy as they knew how to be. And the children grew up comfortably, and more families came from the Mother Land to dwell on The Street. And the children’s children, and the newcomers’ children, grew up. The town was now a city, and one by one the cabins gave place to houses; simple, beautiful houses of brick and wood, with stone steps and iron railings and fanlights over the doors. No flimsy creations were these houses, for they were made to serve many a generation. Within there were carven mantels and graceful stairs, and sensible, pleasing furniture, china, and silver, brought from the Mother Land.

    So The Street drank in the dreams of a young people, and rejoiced as its dwellers became more graceful and happy. Where once had been only strength and honour, taste and learning now abode as well. Books and paintings and music came to the houses, and the young men went to the university which rose above the plain to the north. In the place of conical hats and muskets there were three-cornered hats and small-swords, and lace and snowy periwigs. And there were cobblestones over which clattered many a blooded horse and rumbled many a gilded coach; and brick sidewalks with horse blocks and hitching-posts.

    There were in that Street many trees; elms and oaks and maples of dignity; so that in the summer the scene was all soft verdure and twittering bird-song. And behind the houses were walled rose-gardens with hedged paths and sundials, where at evening the moon and stars would shine bewitchingly while fragrant blossoms glistened with dew.

    So The Street dreamed on, past wars, calamities, and changes. Once most of the young men went away, and some never came back. That was when they furled the Old Flag and put up a new Banner of Stripes and Stars. But though men talked of great changes, The Street felt them not; for its folk were still the same, speaking of the old familiar things in the old familiar accents. And the trees still sheltered singing birds, and at evening the moon and stars looked down upon dewy blossoms in the walled rose-gardens.

    In time there were no more swords, three-cornered hats, or periwigs in The Street. How strange seemed the denizens with their walking-sticks, tall beavers, and cropped heads! New sounds came from the distance—first strange puffings and shrieks from the river a mile away, and then, many years later, strange puffings and shrieks and rumblings from other directions. The air was not quite so pure as before, but the spirit of the place had not changed. The blood and soul of the people were as the blood and soul of their ancestors who had fashioned The Street. Nor did the spirit change when they tore open the earth to lay down strange pipes, or when they set up tall posts bearing weird wires. There was so much ancient lore in that Street, that the past could not easily be forgotten.

    Then came days of evil, when many who had known The Street of old knew it no more; and many knew it, who had not known it before. And those who came were never as those who went away; for their accents were coarse and strident, and their mien and faces unpleasing. Their thoughts, too, fought with the wise, just spirit of The Street, so that The street pined silently as its houses fell into decay, and its trees died one by one, and its rose-gardens grew rank with weeds and waste. But it felt a stir of pride one day when again marched forth young men, some of whom never came back. These young men were clad in blue.

    With the years worse fortune came to The Street. Its trees were all gone now, and its rose-gardens were displaced by the backs of cheap, ugly new buildings on parallel streets. Yet the houses remained, despite the ravages of the years and the storms and worms, for they had been made to serve many a generation. New kinds of faces appeared in The Street; swarthy, sinister faces with furtive eyes and odd features, whose owners spoke unfamiliar words and placed signs in known and unknown characters upon most of the musty houses. Push-carts crowded the gutters. A sordid, undefinable stench settled over the place, and the ancient spirit slept.

    Great excitement once came to The Street. War and revolution were raging across the seas; a dynasty had collapsed, and its degenerate subjects were flocking with dubious intent to the Western Land. Many of these took lodgings in the battered houses that had once known the songs of birds and the scent of roses. Then the Western Land itself awoke, and joined the Mother Land in her titanic struggle for civilisation. Over the cities once more floated the Old Flag, companioned by the New Flag and by a plainer yet glorious Tri-colour. But not many flags floated over The Street, for therein brooded only fear and hatred and ignorance. Again young men went forth, but not quite as did the young men of those other days. Something was lacking. And the sons of those young men of other days, who did indeed go forth in olive-drab with the true spirit of their ancestors, went from distant places and knew not The Street and its ancient spirit.

    Over the seas there was a great victory, and in triumph most of the young men returned. Those who had lacked something lacked it no longer, yet did fear and hatred and ignorance still brood over The Street; for many had stayed behind, and many strangers had come from distant places to the ancient houses. And the young men who had returned dwelt there no longer. Swarthy and sinister were most of the strangers, yet among them one might find a few faces like those who fashioned The Street and moulded its spirit. Like and yet unlike, for there was in the eyes of all a weird, unhealthy glitter as of greed, ambition, vindictiveness, or misguided zeal. Unrest and treason were abroad amongst an evil few who plotted to strike the Western Land its death-blow, that they might mount to power over its ruins; even as assassins had mounted in that unhappy, frozen land from whence most of them had come. And the heart of that plotting was in The Street, whose crumbling houses teemed with alien makers of discord and echoed with the plans and speeches of those who yearned for the appointed day of blood, flame, and crime.

    Of the various odd assemblages in The Street, the law said much but could prove little. With great diligence did men of hidden badges linger and listen about such places as Petrovitch’s Bakery, the squalid Rifkin School of Modern Economics, the Circle Social Club, and the Liberty Café. There congregated sinister men in great numbers, yet always was their speech guarded or in a foreign tongue. And still the old houses stood, with their forgotten lore of nobler, departed centuries; of sturdy colonial tenants and dewy rose-gardens in the moonlight. Sometimes a lone poet or traveller would come to view them, and would try to picture them in their vanished glory; yet of such travellers and poets there were not many.

    The rumour now spread widely that these houses contained the leaders of a vast band of terrorists, who on a designated day were to launch an orgy of slaughter for the extermination of America and of all the fine old traditions which The Street had loved. Handbills and papers fluttered about filthy gutters; handbills and papers printed in many tongues and in many characters, yet all bearing messages of crime and rebellion. In these writings the people were urged to tear down the laws and virtues that our fathers had exalted; to stamp out the soul of the old America—the soul that was bequeathed through a thousand and a half years of Anglo-Saxon freedom, justice, and moderation. It was said that the swart men who dwelt in The Street and congregated in its rotting edifices were the brains of a hideous revolution; that at their word of command many millions of brainless, besotted beasts would stretch forth their noisome talons from the slums of a thousand cities, burning, slaying, and destroying till the land of our fathers should be no more. All this was said and repeated, and many looked forward in dread to the fourth day of July, about which the strange writings hinted much; yet could nothing be found to place the guilt. None could tell just whose arrest might cut off the damnable plotting at its source. Many times came bands of blue-coated police to search the shaky houses, though at last they ceased to come; for they too had grown tired of law and order, and had abandoned all the city to its fate. Then men in olive-drab came, bearing muskets; till it seemed as if in its sad sleep The Street must have some haunting dreams of those other days, when musket-bearing men in conical hats walked along it from the woodland spring to the cluster of houses by the beach. Yet could no act be performed to check the impending cataclysm; for the swart, sinister men were old in cunning.

    So The Street slept uneasily on, till one night there gathered in Petrovitch’s Bakery and the Rifkin School of Modern Economics, and the Circle Social Club, and Liberty Café, and in other places as well, vast hordes of men whose eyes were big with horrible triumph and expectation. Over hidden wires strange messages travelled, and much was said of still stranger messages yet to travel; but most of this was not guessed till afterward, when the Western Land was safe from the peril. The men in olive-drab could not tell what was happening, or what they ought to do; for the swart, sinister men were skilled in subtlety and concealment.

    And yet the men in olive-drab will always remember that night, and will speak of The Street as they tell of it to their grandchildren; for many of them were sent there toward morning on a mission unlike that which they had expected. It was known that this nest of anarchy was old, and that the houses were tottering from the ravages of the years and the storms and the worms; yet was the happening of that summer night a surprise because of its very queer uniformity. It was, indeed, an exceedingly singular happening; though after all a simple one. For without warning, in one of the small hours beyond midnight, all the ravages of the years and the storms and the worms came to a tremendous climax; and after the crash there was nothing left standing in The Street save two ancient chimneys and part of a stout brick wall. Nor did anything that had been alive come alive from the ruins.

    A poet and a traveller, who came with the mighty crowd that sought the scene, tell odd stories. The poet says that all through the hours before dawn he beheld sordid ruins but indistinctly in the glare of the arc-lights; that there loomed above the wreckage another picture wherein he could descry moonlight and fair houses and elms and oaks and maples of dignity. And the traveller declares that instead of the place’s wonted stench there lingered a delicate fragrance as of roses in full bloom. But are not the dreams of poets and the tales of travellers notoriously false?
    There be those who say that things and places have souls, and there be those who say they have not; I dare not say, myself, but I have told you of The Street.

    THE STREET, H.P. Lovecraft, 1919

  • Casey Klahn August 17, 2021, 9:35 AM

    Don’t look at me. I counseled victory in Afghanistan.

    The best military post mortem (too early to write, but…) I’ve read is that the manpower requirements for counter-insurgency, as specified by planners, were never fulfilled. And, that while the politicians were running that engine on lean fuel, they were also growing the mission to fantastical and, indeed, farcical levels. Way too much mission (and way too vague) and way too few soldiers. Go stick a sock under your injectors, then get in the driver’s seat and floor the accelerator.

    I get some solace from Kipling, the poet. TY, Tom Hyland. Think about your veterans at this juncture in time. They’ve been handed the shaft.

    I’m every bit as fed up as all of you. But I don’t dismiss this defeat as unimportant. America fills a size 17 boot with a size 5 ladies foot. That size 17 boot is not optional – we’re stuck with it.

    Just for the record, 4 wars were won since ’45. Kosovo and the Gulf. Both, pyrrhic victories, at best. Korea has proven to have held on this long, so give that some credit. Panama and Grenada, if you want to count those as wars. I don’t know what to make of Iraq right now.

    So, the analysis that America doesn’t win wars is mostly true. We have what amounts to an imbecilic political class. I lump the generals into that same crowd.

    I wish I’d bought that fukn M1A. Still gonna.

  • CC August 17, 2021, 9:45 AM

    Fletcher should learn the difference between “everything provided by the UK to SUBJECTS of the crown” and “free men seeking their OWN fortunes”.
    And yeah, let’s not go into medical care; especially dentistry.

  • Dirk August 17, 2021, 11:43 AM

    Taliban starts door to door Gun and rocket launcher confiscation. Quick! Evidence that their working directly with the left!


  • Fletcher Christian August 17, 2021, 2:23 PM

    The banking and communications systems have very little to do with government. And as for us being subjects of the Crown; well, Britain has been effectively democratic since about 1800. And we don’t currently have a system for choosing our country’s leaders that continually throws up pairs of bad and worse choices. 2016; a gameshow host and a traitor. 2020; same gameshow host, and this time a barely functional Alzheimer’s sufferer with a Leftist lunatic as deputy and possible successor.

    As for dentistry, I really can’t understand the American obsession with porcelain-white (often because they are porcelain) and artificially perfect teeth.

  • hooodathunkit August 17, 2021, 6:20 PM

    @El Polacko – Sorry but there are right and wrong ways to retreat. In this case the correct order of operations is something like:
    1. Evacuate civilians and allies.
    2. Shred sensitive documents.
    3. Pull out military.
    4. Close bases or handover
    5. Announce end of fighting.

    Not the opposite.

  • Zaphod August 18, 2021, 3:16 AM

    Actually, our Moral Betters and Guide Stars have figured out what We (Kemosabe?) Need to Do:


    So hop to it!

  • Snakepit Kansas August 18, 2021, 5:31 AM

    Why do the British put sugar in their toothpaste?