Rambo Attempts to Understand Afghanistan

John Oliver points out how Afghanistan’s political instability was “literally a plot point in Rambo III” from 1988, and then suggests what could have been done to improve the dialog (spoiler alert):

  • Afghan: This is Afghanistan. Alexander the Great tried to conquer this country. Then Genghis Kahn. Then the British. Now Russia. […] Ancient enemy make prayer about these people. […] It says may god deliver us from the venom of the cobra, teeth of the tiger and the vengeance of the Afghan. Do you understand what this means?
  • Rambo: That you guys don’t take any shit?
  • Afghan: Yes, something like this.
  • John as Afghan instead: Sure, but also our political system has long been defined by other countries’ imperial self interests. You understand what that means?
  • John as Rambo: No, no I don’t.
  • John as Afghan: Yeah, I didn’t think so. Yeah, you know what, I’m getting we’ll see you guys in roughly fifteen years.

The whole thing is worth a watch.

John’s not wrong about most of it. He nails the point that America “disastrously intervened” (going back to 1980) and has an obligation to get people out. Thus he’s right there’s a lot of responsibility.

However, he could have taken a harder look at what that responsibility means. It’s going to be more than just accepting refugees.

A new chapter is about to unfold in Afghanistan where political moderates aspire to take control back from extreme right-wing religious militias that the US extreme-right had pushed into power (Mujaheddin then Taliban).

If the US can survive the January 6th attempts to seize its capitol, perhaps it will learn how to help Afghans survive Kabul being seized by similar tribes (and have some freedom now to do something about it).

Or let me put it another way, a nuclear Pakistan overrun by extremist right-wing religious militas is the kind of regional effect that the US, Russia and China aren’t going to just sit back and ignore.

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