the important and the not-so-important, horribly conflated.


In human behavior on December 13, 2010 at 8:58 pm

“You have to test your hypothesis against other theories,” Holbrooke said. “Certainty in the face of complex situations is very dangerous.”

– from “The Last Mission,” George Packer’s meticulous profile of the late US special representative for the Af-Pak region. As the article attests, Holbrooke faithfully tried to follow his own advice in his dealings with Hamid Karzai, David Petraeus, and the President—but, with a wisdom that will hopefully be carried forward by our leaders, he also never lost track of the irrevocable human costs of military/political hypotheses.

Turning the middle east into a laboratory for the testing of neocon theories or humanitarian ideals doesn’t just dehumanize the people of Afganistan; it doesn’t just trivialize the struggles of a rebuilding Iraqi populace. In the grand tallying of fatalities and enemies caught and civilian “collateral,” these experiments also strip from the stories of sacrifices made by our soldiers or Afghani citizens any sense of what unique perspectives and ideals war has forced its individual participants and observers to reexamine.


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