I have been a great fan of author James Michener since I was about fourteen -- that's fifty years of reading and re-reading but who's counting? I loved the wonderful, well-researched lessons in history, culture, and geography that he taught in his novels as he wove "can't put it down" story after story of people and places both here and abroad.
And it's one of his novels that is very much on my mind these days and it causes me to look askance -- to put it mildly -- at President Obama's plan to increase our presence in Afghanistan.
Published in 1962, Caravans gives an excellent perspective of post WWII Afghanistan. It is, even now, a nation that holds tightly to its old ways. Change comes at a snail's pace. Tribal infighting and haggling for power among the varied Islamic sects are the norm and women and children are still chattels. The 21st century hasn't taken a foothold there.
This country has been in a state of civil war since the 1970s. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and and spent nearly 10 years fighting there to no avail.
I would think that there would be a lesson for our leaders in that. These people don't appear to want change or freedom.
So why are we investing our money and our sons' and daughters' lives there? Ask your Congressman. I may be over-simplifying but the bottom line is that we can't afford to keep playing policeman to the world when there are pressing issues here at home.
Just my take.