A good chunk of the recently released WikiLeaks documents deal with the problem of a nuclear-armed Pakistan in the grip of radical Islam. Despite the billions of dollars in US aid they receive, they are unwilling to cut ties with the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
One diplomatic cable on the New York Times site is called Will Extra Aid Persuade Pakistan to Cut Ties to Extremists? American diplomats discuss whether giving Islamabad more money will lead them to cut ties with the Taliban.
The author concludes:
There is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced assistance levels in any field as sufficient compensation for abandoning support to these groups…
Islamic terrorist groups like the Taliban are key element of Pakistani security. They provide a hedge against India by securing Afghanistan and by causing problems for India in Kashmir. Continue reading “WikiLeaks and Shame by Salman Rushdie”
One of my favorite novels of the past few years is Absurdistan. This comic romp by Gary Shteyngart takes place in a degraded post-Soviet world, where all anyone cares about is making money. The book is narrated by Misha Vainberg who dreams of returning to New York, where he was a student. Though a Russian heir to a fortune, he considers himself a lost American, trapped in corrupt country.
To get back to the United States (and the love of his life), he travels to the Caucasus republic of Absurdistan. He hopes to get a visa there. Along the way he joins in epic bouts of drinking and conspicuous consumption, as the nouveau rich show off their wealth with huge bounties of caviar, vodka and prostitutes.
This is fiction, or so I always thought, the invention of a very funny writer. But then I read the WikiLeaks cable on the wild wedding in Dagestan, Russia. It’s like the world of Absurdistan come to life, featuring a rich cast of characters frolicking along the shores of the Caspian Sea. The cable even has the perfect blurb for the back of a paperback:
The lavish display and heavy drinking concealed the deadly serious North Caucasus politics of land, ethnicity, clan, and alliance.
Continue reading “WikiLeaks and Absurdistan”