The sovereign can no longer say, "You shall think as I do on pain of death;" but he says, "You are free to think differently from me, and to retain your life, your property, and all that you possess; but if such be your determination, you are henceforth an alien among your people."

(Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The monkey insurgency

The Taliban have taken asymmetric warfare to new levels, according to the Chinese media and amid great consternation in Washington.

In a major blow to ISAF's counter-insurgency strategy, the Taliban are training monkeys as insurgents in the hope that these trigger-happy, Kalashnikov-wielding primates will turn the tide in the Taliban's favour.

Naturally this poses many serious questions for the ISAF mission.

Should there be a special 'simian clause' in the rules of engagement? How will western public opinion react if ISAF kills a monkey in combat?

The Taliban think they have the answer to that question. "If a person who loves animals knows the monkeys may be injured in the war, they might pressure the government to force the withdrawal of western forces in Afghanistan," said one (human) Taliban insider.

In the context of reconciliation and reintegration, how can we persuade these monkey jihadists to put down their guns and reintegrate into Afghan society? Will the monkey Talibs be amenable to a negotiated settlement with the Karzai government?

The seriousness of this new threat must not be under-estimated. The most obvious short-term solution would be for ISAF to ban the import of bananas into Afghanistan.

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