Category Archives: Western Civilization

School Makes Unmasked Students Wear a ‘Yellow Badge’

School Makes Unmasked Students Wear a ‘Yellow Badge’

By Jon Fleetwood 11/18/2021

QUICK FACTS:
  • Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson reported on Wednesday a U.K. school is instructing students to “wear a Yellow Badge” in order to identify those students from other students as having received a mask exemption.
  • Pearson tweeted a screenshot of an email she says is from the school explaining the school’s decision to reintroduce mask-wearing in the classroom.
  • The email goes on to explain that mask-exempt children must don a yellow-colored “Badge.”
  • “Those pupils who were exempt from wearing a mask last academic year will once again be exempt and should wear a yellow badge to indicate this,” the email reads.
  • Summit News pointed out the yellow badge is “historically understood to symbolize a ‘badge of shame’ and was imposed on Jews at numerous points throughout history to denote them as ethnic or religious outsiders.” “While no one is comparing the treatment of Jewish people in Nazi Germany to kids being forced to wear yellow badges,” the article clarified, “the use of such a symbol is still odious and morally bankrupt.”
  • Pearson concluded her tweet, asking, “Does the school have teachers who know their history?”
BACKGROUND:
  • Australia implemented more strict lockdown measures for the unvaccinated on Monday. About two million unvaccinated Australians “will only be allowed to leave home for limited reasons, like working or buying food,” the BBC reports. The Australian government “says police will carry out spot checks in public spaces to determine the vaccination status of individuals, and issue fines to those caught breaking the rules.” Austria’s health ministry “says anyone who violates the lockdown for the unvaccinated could be fined €500 (£426; $572), while a penalty of €1,450 could be incurred for refusing to participate in checks.”
  • Austria and Germany have also implemented severe lockdown measures for the unvaccinated. “Testing for vaccinated and unvaccinated alike would become mandatory in some regions once hospitalizations reach a given threshold, German authorities said on Thursday. Vaccinations will now be made mandatory for healthcare workers,” according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Unvaccinated Austrians are “excluded from entertainment venues, restaurants, hairdressers and other parts of public life in Austria,” CNN reports. But now Austria’s lockdown measures apply to “all those age 12 and older.”
  • Measures have also been introduced in Croatia this week, “including obligatory vaccination or testing for employees, have prompted protests, as well as criticism from President Zoran Milanovic, who is elected independently of the government,” notes WSJ.
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Inside the Austrian lockdown – UnHerd

What the ruling classes and the ‘Left’ have come to, or perhaps better, are now showing their true beliefs and character. mrossol

By Freddy Sayers,  11/18/2021

Mia and Christopher are Austrian circus performers. From their home in Vienna, accompanied by their dog, Magic, they go off to take part in theatrical shows large and small around Europe, from the Royal Albert Hall to private parties, sometimes juggling fire, sometimes trapeze, sometimes simply with stunning displays of balance and strength.

Perhaps the least interesting thing about this talented young couple is that they are unvaccinated against Covid-19. When I meet them at their house in a wooded suburb outside Vienna, I am almost embarrassed to ask about it. But they carefully explain how, for reasons of mistrust, caution and, as they see it, integrity, they have decided not to take the Covid vaccine — and how this fact is suddenly defining their whole lives.

 

 

Since Monday, unvaccinated Austrians are not allowed to leave their homes except to go to work, to buy essential supplies, or to take exercise: it’s the world’s first “lockdown for the unvaccinated”. It was introduced in response to rapidly rising cases and a lack of excess capacity in Austrian hospitals. “It is not a recommendation, but an order,” announced the Interior Minister Karl Nehammer at a press conference. “Every citizen should know that they will be checked by the police.”

It is, essentially, a ratcheting up of the regime of vaccine passports that exists already in many countries across Europe, whereby unvaccinated people are already excluded from restaurants, museums and theatres. But to place a minority of the population under partial house arrest does seem to cross a new line.

Mia is an artist who is unvaccinated but allowed out because she had covid recently.

The Brazilian-born Mia has already had Covid and, in the Austrian “2G” system, proof of recovery affords you the same status as if you had been vaccinated — albeit for a period of six months. So, for now at least, she is allowed out and about. Chris is stuck at home. He describes it as a “brainfuck”. Attempting to remain philosophical about it, he explains how he tries to tune out the relentless fear coming out of the TV and keep control of his own mental state. “I don’t want to be dependent on these kind of things to be happy.” But the sense of alienation and unease is palpable. What will the future look like? He is supposed to be performing in Paris before Christmas; who knows if he will get there.

It’s a “brain fuck”, says Mia’s partner, Christopher

Back in the old town, alongside the fancy boutiques of the Kärntner Straße, it’s a very different world. Affluent shoppers are out and about in the crisp November air, and they are more than happy to share their views with us.

“I think it comes much too late,” says one woman. “They’re crazy. All the trouble we have is due to those people that believe in, I don’t know, that the earth is flat… If the majority of society depends on idiots, then they can’t be helped and it’s the end of society!”

Her view is typical — there is very little sympathy here, and a good deal of frustration. Only a few voices take the opposing view, and they tend to be passers-through more than the wealthy locals; the doormen and deliverymen we try to talk to just shake their heads. One man simply describes the latest lockdown as “bullshit”.

What is striking is that very few think the policy will actually work. Covid levels per capita have shot up in recent weeks, and Austria now has one of the highest case rates in Europe. The rationale behind the lockdown is that it will increase the level of vaccination (low for a Western European country at 65%); but even supporters of the move predict that it will be followed up by more universal measures soon enough. The Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg openly explains that the policy is a heavy-handed “nudge”: “My aim is very clear: to get the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, not to lock up the unvaccinated,” he told ORF radio station.

On a practical level, though, the logic of the new rules does not withstand much scrutiny: unvaccinated workers are permitted to travel to and from work, and they work disproportionately within the hospitality sector. This means that they are currently allowed into restaurants and bars to serve, but not to consume. In any case, if there were only vaccinated people in a venue, that wouldn’t necessarily make it Covid-free. Many places require daily testing for non-vaccinated staff, yet not for the vaccinated, leading to the odd situation where the unvaccinated are “safer” than the patrons.

It feels like a bit of a stand-off. The vaccine issue has become a show of strength, a test of principles. As Ivan Krastev, a political scientist at Vienna’s Institute for Human Sciences, tells me: “When some of the anti-vaccine people said, ‘we are ready to defend our freedoms’, the basic message of the Government was, ‘Okay, let’s see what price you are ready to pay for them.’ The idea of this measure is to make people uncomfortable.”

Ivan Krastev: “the government wants to make people uncomfortable”

One peculiar feature of this dramatic new measure is the silence of the liberals. Why are the bien-pensant Viennese, usually so concerned with the rights of minorities, so relaxed about a measure that in other contexts would seem outrageously draconian?

Somersaults of logic have been performed to assert that the policy is more liberal than the alternatives. For one thing, they say, it stops short of an actual vaccine mandate, which just about keeps alive the notion of personal choice; for the majority, it offers the hope of avoiding another lockdown, so seems to them to be a lesser intervention. And, unlike in neighbouring Italy, the unvaccinated can still work, with tests being provided at public expense. In Austria, across the West, there is no one left to assert the rights, or even try to understand the motivations of this despised minority, the anti-vaxxers. They are the new deplorables.

 
 

To interrogate this seeming contradiction, I visit Professor Manfred Nowak, one of Europe’s pre-eminent human rights lawyers, at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. He has dedicated his whole life to the upholding of human rights and the defence of oppressed minorities against arbitrary detention and mistreatment. Former Special Rapporteur to the UN on Torture, current Secretary-General of the European Campus of Human Rights, activist against Guantanamo Bay, UN Independent Expert on Children Deprived of Liberty — the list continues. I expect him to be a little concerned about the potential direction of travel in his home country of Austria.

He wasn’t. He thinks the policy doesn’t go far enough. “From a human rights perspective, you always have to balance the obligation to protect the right to life, the right to health, with interfering with other rights such as personal liberty,” he tells me.

He wants to make vaccination mandatory, with refusal equivalent to a traffic offence, resulting in a fine rather than a criminal record. He is also worried about how this partial lockdown might affect an already divided society — but he is unconcerned about the human rights or civil liberties implications. Do you not even have a twinge of anxiety about the shift in democratic norms, or whether such discriminatory policy might be applied in different settings, I ask? “No, not really,” he says, with admirable candour.

Manfred Nowak, an eminent human rights professor: “vaccination should be mandatory”

The final component in this lockdown mix is, of course, politics. In most European countries there are no mainstream political parties that could be described as “anti-vaccine”, but Austria has the populist, right-wing Freedom Party, which was part of the coalition government until 2019; it has made vaccination choice a central issue. The FPÖ organises regular rallies in cities around Austria, and its new leader Herbert Kickl is gaining popularity by condemning Covid policies as “corona fascism”.

Having thus turned vaccine hesitancy into a “right-wing” political campaign, Kickl has managed to put a face to the dissenting minority — and it’s not one that many people like. As a result, instead of thinking of the unvaccinated as a vulnerable, if misguided, group and one worthy of protection and respect, they have become viewed as an extreme political enemy who must be defeated.

It would be hard to think of anyone less threatening or extreme than Mia and Chris. Alternative, certainly; anti-establishment, yes. But good people who in any healthy, confident culture would be cherished and celebrated. Allowing them, and millions like them, to drift into a caste of untouchables, separated from the mainstream, all for the sake of a marginal gain against a virus that is rapidly becoming endemic, may prove to be a grave miscalculation with effects that will be felt for years to come.

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‘Reimagine Capitalism’: Fortune Magazine Pushing Globalist Klaus Schwab’s Anti-American ‘Great Reset’ Agenda

‘Reimagine Capitalism’: Fortune Magazine Pushing Globalist Klaus Schwab’s Anti-American ‘Great Reset’ Agenda

Fortune Magazine wants elites to rule the world and you to “own nothing. And you’ll be happy.”

QUICK FACTS:
  • Fortune Magazine published a piece today titled “Change the World: To reimagine capitalism, we need to reimagine power.”
  • The piece states that Fortune is “thrilled to see so many companies of all sizes and from around the globe” who are answering “calls for the world to reimagine capitalism and for companies to embrace stakeholder capitalism.”
  • The piece also promotes the far-left position that “the climate crisis, growing inequality and wealth disparity, inequitable access to health care, and long-rooted systemic racism and bias” are the “biggest challenges the world has faced.”
  • To tackle these alleged problems, Fortune advocates for the end of “traditional capitalism” while encouraging readers to welcome the “emergence of” and “transitioning to” stakeholder capitalism.
  • Stakeholder capitalism is part of the globalist “Great Reset” agenda to end American sovereignty and supremacy in order to usher in “a new world” order controlled by “stakeholders,” namely, corporations selected and controlled by the World Economic Forum.

NEW: Fortune’s 2021 Change the World list is out!

These companies use the creative tools of capitalism—including the profit motive—to address society’s unmet needs. https://t.co/RW4RU8EQY9— FORTUNE (@FortuneMagazine) October 11, 2021

WHAT IS ‘STAKEHOLDER CAPITALISM’?:
  • Stakeholder capitalism is an idea coined by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman at The World Economic Forum (WEF).
  • The WEF advances “The Great Reset” agenda, an initiative aimed at consolidating global power under the control of multinational corporations, or, “stakeholders.”
  • After this Great Reset takes place, world populations “will own nothing. And you’ll be happy,” according to a video presentation created by the WEF. (See below.)
https://youtube.com/watch?v=4zUjsEaKbkM%3Ffeature%3Doembed
  • According to Schwab, stakeholder capitalism is meant to replace current free-market capitalism with a new “form of capitalism in which companies do not only optimize short-term profits for shareholders, but seek long term value creation, by taking into account the needs of all their stakeholders, and society at large.”
  • “The most important characteristic of the stakeholder model today,” writes Schwab, “is that the stakes of our system are now more clearly global.”
  • A WEF report states that individual governments, such as the U.S. government, are no longer “the overwhelmingly dominant actors on the world stage” and that “the time has come for a new stakeholder paradigm of international governance.”
  • The Transnational Institute—a non-profit think tank in Amsterdam—explains Schwab’s vision as “a self-selected group of ‘stakeholders’ make[ing] decisions on behalf of the people.”
  • The Institute characterizes Schwab and the WEF’s goals as “a silent global coup d’etat” to capture world dominance.
Image from the World Economic Forum’s page about Klaus Schwab’s book, “Stakeholder Capitalism”
WHO OWNS FORTUNE MAGAZINE?:
  • Fortune Magazine is owned by Fortune Media Group Holdings, which in turn is owned by Thai business tycoon Chatchaval Jiaravanon.
  • Purchasing Fortune for $150 million in 2018, Jiaravanon is a member of the billionaire family that controls Charoen Pokphand Group, one of the biggest Thai conglomerates, according to Bloomberg.
  • Charoen Pokphand is owned in part (here) by BlackRock Inc., a single corporate entity with power over every major world industry: social media, communication, information, technology, manufacturing, weapons manufacturers, retail, wholesale, food, agriculture, energy, oil, transportation, automotive, banking, credit, finance, insurance, travel, grocery, computer, pharmaceutical, health, real estate, and mainstream media (from CNN to Fox News, Disney to Netflix).

Thai tycoon who owns Fortune Magazine plans fintech acquisitions https://t.co/vDI5wcCKdY— Bloomberg (@business) January 13, 2020

WHO IS BLACKROCK?:
  • As of July 2021, The Wall Street Journal reportsBlackRock is approaching $10 trillion in assets. Excluding the U.S. and China, the value of BlackRock’s total assets is greater than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) respectively of any country in the world.
  • BlackRock owns major shares of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, YouTube, Alphabet; AT&T, Verizon, Comcast; Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Intel; Caterpillar, 3M; Volkswagen, Toyota, Ford, Honda; Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon; Amazon, Walmart, Costco, Target; FedEx; Delta, American Airlines, United, Southwest; Ross, Nike, TJX; Pepsi, CocaCola, Nestle, Sysco, Tyson Foods; Del Monte, Seaboard Corp; McDonald’s, Starbucks; Exxon Mobile, Shell, BP, Total Energies, Chevron, General Electric, Tesla; Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway; Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Citigroup, Capital One, Wells Fargo; Prudential, MetLife; Airbnb, Uber, Lyft; Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck; CVS, Anthem, Blue Cross; Zillow; CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Disney, Netflix, Time Warner, The New York Times, Yahoo, Discovery, iHeartMedia, Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, News Corp, and Viacom, and thousands more.
  • Many of the major companies owned by BlackRock are listed as “Partners” on the WEF’s website.
  • BlackRock’s website insists not only that globalism is a reality, but that globalism is “evolving” and that “Much of [the work of globalism] will fall on the shoulders of multinational corporations,” like those owned by BlackRock and partnered with the WEF. Its website says that “large corporations [need] to play a bigger role” in advancing globalism.
  • BlackRock CEO Larry Fink—a board member and contributor at the WEF—endorses “activism from the far-left” and says, like the Fortune piece, that we must “focus” on advancing globalism by utilizing specifically stakeholder capitalism.

Jon Fleetwood is Managing Editor for American Faith.


https://americanfaith.com/companies-requiring-covid-vax-are-owned-by-same-company-that-owns-pfizer-moderna-astrazeneca-jj/embed/#?secret=7MZiMHp03h https://americanfaith.com/where-the-worlds-most-powerful-meet-the-worlds-money-world-economic-forum-blackrock/embed/#?secret=a5yMG1xr82 https://americanfaith.com/military-industrial-complex-big-media-owned-by-same-companies/embed/#?secret=UbWskSNOYB

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Afghanistan always defeats the West – UnHerd

UnHerd, by William Dalrymple   Aug. 28,2021

Before the events of this month, the First Anglo-Afghan War was arguably the greatest military humiliation ever suffered by the West in the East. Britain’s entanglement with Afghanistan between 1839-42 was catastrophic, costly and entirely avoidable. Nothing until the fall of Singapore in 1942 was so disastrous for Britain.

The most infamous incident of the war was the retreat from Kabul, which began on the 6th January 1842. An entire army — 18,500 men — left the British cantonment, only to be annihilated by scantly-equipped tribesmen. In the myth of the war, only one British citizen, the surgeon Dr Brydon, made it through to Jalalabad six days later.

Brydon’s desperate escape on a collapsing nag became one of the era’s most famous images, in Lady Butler’s oil Remnants of an Army. Likewise, William Barnes Wollen’s celebrated painting of the Last Stand of the 44th Foot — a group of ragged but doggedly determined soldiers on the hilltop of Gandamak standing encircled behind a thin line of bayonets, as the Pashtun tribesmen close in — drummed home the terrible truth of the war. The world’s premier military nation had been brought low, it’s armies massacred or enslaved.

Defeat cast a long shadow. Perhaps it was that image of a desperate Brydon, half-alive outside the gates of Jalalabad, that deterred British policy-makers from further adventures.

Writing just before Britain blundered into the Second Anglo-Afghan War 30 years later, George Lawrence, a veteran of the first conflict wrote, “a new generation has arisen which, instead of profiting from the solemn lessons of the past, is willing and eager to embroil us in the affairs of that turbulent and unhappy country . . . Although military disasters may be avoided, an advance now, however successful in a military point of view, would not fail to turn out to be as politically useless . . . The disaster of the Retreat from Kabul should stand forever as a warning to the Statesmen of the future not to repeat the policies that bore such bitter fruit in 1839–42.”

Lawrence’s warning was still echoing when Harold Macmillan told his successor Alec Douglas-Home “as long as you don’t invade Afghanistan you’ll be absolutely fine.” Sadly, by the time John Major was handing over 10 Downing Street to Tony Blair, Afghanistan was a distant memory. In 2001, soon after the catastrophe of 9/11 Blair signed up with Bush to invade Afghanistan yet again. What followed was a textbook case of Aldous Huxley’s adage that the only thing you learn from history is that no one learns from history.

Britain’s Fourth Afghan War was to an extraordinary, near-absurd extent, a replay of the first. The parallels between the two invasions were not just anecdotal, they were substantive. The same group rivalries and the same battles were fought out in the same places 170 years later under the guise of new banners, new beliefs and new political orchestrators. The same cities were occupied by troops speaking the same languages, and they were attacked again from the same high passes. In both cases, the invaders thought they could walk in, perform regime change, and be out in a couple of years. Ultimately, in both cases they were unable to prevent themselves being pulled into a much wider, bloodier conflict.

The First Afghan War was waged on the basis of doctored intelligence about a virtually non-existent threat: information about a single Russian envoy to Kabul was exaggerated and manipulated by a group of ambitious and ideologically-driven hawks to create a scare — in this case, about a phantom Russian invasion. As John MacNeill, the Russophobe British ambassador wrote from Tehran: “we should declare that he who is not with us is against us… We must secure Afghanistan.” Thus was brought about an avoidable war with all its astonishing resonances with our situation today.

Take the puppet ruler — Shah Shuja ul-Mulk — the British tried to install in 1839. He was from the same Popalzai sub-tribe as Hamid Karzai. His bitterest opponents? The Ghilzais, who today are the mainstay of the Taliban’s forces. Taliban leader Mullah Omar was the chief of the Hotaki Ghilzai, just like Mohammad Shah Khan, the warrior who supervised the destruction of the British army in 1841. These parallels were largely invisible to Westerners, but frequently pointed out by the Taliban: “Everyone knows how Karzai was brought to Kabul and how he was seated on the defenceless throne of Shah Shuja” they announced in a press release soon after he came to power.

We in the West may have forgotten the details of this history that did so much to mould the Afghans’ hatred of foreign rule, but Afghans never did. In particular Shah Shuja remains a symbol of quisling treachery in Afghanistan: in 2001, the Taliban asked their young men, ‘Do you want to be remembered as a son of Shah Shuja or as a son of Dost Mohammad?’ As he rose to power, Mullah Omar deliberately modelled himself on the deposed Emir, Dost Mohammad, and like him removed the Holy Cloak of the Prophet Mohammad from its shrine in Kandahar and wrapped himself in it, declaring himself like his model Amir al-Muminin, the Leader of the Faithful, a deliberate and direct re-enactment of the events of First Afghan War, whose resonance was immediately understood by all Afghans.

Hamid Karzai was particularly sensitive to these parallels. When I first published my book the First Anglo-Afghan War, Return of a King, in 2012, he called me to Kabul. Karzai quizzed me on the details over several dinners at his palace about the lessons this history can teach us. His view was that the US were doing to him what the British had done to Shah Shuja 170 years ago: “The lies Lord Auckland told Dost Mohammad Khan, that we don’t want to interfere with your country, that’s exactly what they tell us today, the Americans and all the others,” he told me. “Our so-called current allies behave to us just as the British did to Shah Shuja. They have squandered the opportunity given to them by the Afghan people. They tried to do exactly as they did in the 19th century.”

Karzai made it clear that he thought Shah Shuja didn’t stress his independence enough, and said he was never going to allow himself to be remembered as anyone’s puppet. After reading Return of a King, he substantially altered his policies to make sure he never repeated his forbear Shah Shuja’s mistakes. Hilary Clinton blamed his reading of my book for a chilling of relations between Kabul and the White House during the Obama years — according to a leaked email published in the New York Times after Wikileaks.

Ashraf Ghani, Karzai’s successor, was a noted academic anthropologist and economist. He’d stood on the TED stage in Berkeley, California and co-authored a well-received book on fixing “failed states”. Sadly he learned nothing from the lessons of history. Karzai was a skilful diplomat and an operator; Ghani was rude, lofty, impatient and arrogant. He pushed away tribal leaders with his lack of charm and politeness. He would tell clan elders who had trekked across Afghanistan to see him that they had “ten minutes” and he would take off his shoes, put his feet up on a stool and point them at petitioners — an act of huge rudeness in Indian and Afghan society. As we have seen, in the end, few were willing to die to keep Ghani in power.

For the Afghans, the First Afghan War changed their state forever: on his return in 1842, Emir Dost Mohammad inherited the reforms made by the British and these helped him consolidate an Afghanistan that was much more clearly defined than it was before the war. Indeed Shuja and most of his contemporaries never used the word “Afghanistan” — for him, there was a Kingdom of Kabul which was the last surviving fragment of the Durrani Empire and which lay on the edge of a geographical space he described as Khurasan. Yet within a generation the phrase Afghanistan existed widely on maps both in and outside the country and the people within that space were beginning to describe themselves as Afghans. The return of Shah Shuja and the failed colonial expedition which was mounted to reinstate him finally destroyed the power of the Sadozai dynasty and ended the last memories of the Durrani Empire that they had founded. In this way the war did much to define the modern boundaries of the Afghan state, and consolidated once and for all the idea of a country called Afghanistan.

“The last stand of the survivors of Her Majesty’s 44th Foot at Gandamak” by William Barnes Wollen, portraying a stand made by soldiers of the 44th Foot on a hill outside Gandamak during the retreat from Kabul in 1842. As late as 2010, the bones of the dead still covered the hillside.

If the First Afghan War helped consolidate the Afghan State, the question now is whether our current failed Western intervention will contribute to its demise. Afghanistan has changed beyond all recognition in the last twenty years. The cities have grown, people travel much more widely, thousands of women have been educated. Television, the internet and an ebullient media have opened many minds. It is impossible in such circumstances to predict the fate of the divided state of Afghanistan under renewed Taliban rule, even as the resistance begins to organise itself in the Panjshir Valley under the leadership of my old friend Amrullah Saleh, formerly the head of the NSD. But what the Afghan historian Mirza ‘Ata wrote after 1842 remains equally true today: ‘It is certainly no easy thing to invade or govern the Kingdom of Khurasan.’

For the truth is that in the last millennia there had been only very brief moments of strong central control when the different Afghan tribes have acknowledged the authority of a single ruler, and still briefer moments of anything approaching a unified political system. Afghanistan has always been less a state than a kaleidoscope of competing tribal principalities governed through maliks or vakils, in each of which allegiance was entirely personal, to be negotiated and won over rather than taken for granted.

The tribes’ traditions have always been egalitarian and independent, and they have only ever submitted to authority on their own terms. Financial rewards might bring about cooperation, but rarely ensured loyalty: the individual Afghan soldier owed his allegiance first to the local chieftain who raised and paid him, not to the shahs or Kings or Presidents in faraway Kabul. Yet even the tribal leaders had frequently been unable to guarantee obedience, for tribal authority was itself so elusive and diffuse. As the saying went: Behind every hillock there sits an emperor — pusht-e har teppe, yek padishah neshast (or alternatively: Every man is a khan — har saray khan deh). In such a world, the state never had a monopoly on power, but was just one among a number of competing claimants on allegiance. “An Afghan Amir sleeps upon an ant heap,” went the proverb.

The first British historian of Afghanistan, Mountstuart Elphinstone, grasped this as he watched Shah Shuja’s rule disintegrate around him. “The internal government of the tribes answers its ends so well”, he wrote, “that the utmost disorders of the royal government never derange its operations, nor disturb the lives of its people.” No wonder that Afghans proudly thought of their mountains as Yaghistan — the Land of Rebellion.

This is now the problem facing the Taliban. As the Taliban transforms its military command into a government for Afghanistan, alliances and tribal configurations that kept two rival Taliban factions together in recent years are already being tested. Factional divisions began to emerge between the Quetta Shura and militant commanders farther east on the ground after the death of Mullah Omar in 2013. The result was a far-reaching realignment among Taliban factions — particularly between hard-line groups like the Haqqani network that wanted to escalate fighting and more moderate Taliban leaders who sought accommodation with Kabul and Islamabad.

It is too early to see if, and how, the different Taliban commanders from East and West Afghanistan, the Quetta shura and the Taliban political wing manage in Doha manage to settle their differences and succeed in control Afghanistan’s naturally centrifugal polity — certainly the recent campaign appears to have had far more disciplined and coherent coordination than any of us expected. Only time will tell if the movement remains united or splinters into regional Taliban fiefdoms.

What is the longer-term strategic picture now? Few will now trust American or NATO promises and we have handed a major propaganda victory to our enemies everywhere. India has lost a leading regional ally and Pakistan’s ISI believe they have won a major victory — Imran Khan went as far as saying that the Taliban victory meant the freeing of the Afghans from the “shackles of slavery”. Meanwhile China has announced it will do business with the Taliban regime, and reopen the Mes Aynak copper mine which lies beneath a major Buddhist Silk Road archaeological site. The direction the winds are blowing in is clear.

Britain’s Fourth Afghan War has ended, like the First, in ignominy and defeat. There is no Lady Butler or William Barnes Wollen around today to paint the explosions outside Kabul airport, or the desperate crush around American C-130 transport planes inside its perimeter. A Butler or a Wollen is not needed — images of both have already travelled halfway around the world on social media. The words of the First Afghan War’s first historian, Rev. G.R. Glieg, are as hauntingly apt in 2021 as they were in 1843: “Not one benefit, political or military, has been acquired with this war. Our eventual evacuation of the country resembled the retreat of an army defeated.”

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