Thursday, October 23, 2008

On Kingship

“It is a good thing to burn down the capitol and kill the King every now and then.”

Yes. If Michael's interview with "resistance" fighters didn't convince me -
Abdul, who can speak a little English, said that at first they liked the French and Americans because they were friendly and helpful. But he said that local people now see people who wear a uniform “all have one same face. ANA and NATO are all in one hand.”

Solomon2: These are not jihadi fanatics. They are not Afghan patriots. They are seeking justice for themselves and their families and village. That is a great reason for hope - if they are representative of others who have taken up arms against the Afghan gov't and NATO, then everything needed to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda is contained in this interview.

then this conversation surely did.

Democracy is the wrong form of government for Afghanistan. These people need a king.

A king, not a tyrant. Not a constitutional king, either, but one pledged to uphold local traditions and independence yet lend a hand when outside troubles threaten, and can deliver some goodies without excessive greed. Think King Alfred or the kings of Castile* rather than Saddam or George III. That's because in a land where literacy is low and philosophy non-existent, loyalties are limited to the familiar or the personal.

Think about it. An elected leadership could not be easily checked and thus would be too interested in padding its nest and fleeing abroad later. Religious dictatorship founders because those in power claim the right to decide what is right, and thus invariably lose their way and the respect of the people they dominate.

Selecting a monarch would be the difficult part. An enthusiastic crowd in the capitol can sometimes do the trick, but that's also how the Thirty Years' War got started. While foreign powers can make their own selection, it is the Afghans themselves who, as the "old men" point out, will wield the ultimate veto.

* Correction: Not kings of Castile, but kings of Aragon. Here is the loyalty oath taken by their subjects:
We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are not better than we, to accept you as our sovereign lord, provided that you observe all our liberties and laws; but if not, then not.

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