The collection “goes beyond humanizing the Taliban toward understanding them,” says a jacket blurb by Harvard’s
, a former deputy European Union representative in Afghanistan.
“Anyone claiming to be an Afghan expert should read this book before giving their next opinion,” writes novelist
, author of “A Case of Exploding Mangoes.”
Military and intelligence analysts might find it well worth pursuing, at least as a “know thine enemy” exercise. But it falls a bit short of what American readers may see as great poetry.
For example, there’s the catchy “Strike the Enemies of Our Village With Stones!”:
Strike the enemies of our village with stones!
Youths! Be alert! they are spying on our village.
Depart for Jihad; this is a legal obligation.
Kill the traitors of the village in the mountains.
The army of the crazed crusaders will withdraw.
Probably sounds more poetic in Pashtun. And remember, these are supposed to be memorized and sung.
Well, maybe you’d prefer “Great Guiding Star”:
When you were born, time brought changes;
Stars were falling on the earth, beauty brought color.
Spring arrived everywhere, red blossoms hugged each others
As you brought the love from love’s world.
Then there’s this one, titled “Give Me Your Turban,” written by a woman who’s not happy with some of her fellow Taliban:
Give me your turban and take my veil,
Give me the sword so that the matter will be dealt with.
. . .
Don’t just call yourselves men, how long will you lie there
You sit among the girls; may calamity fall down on your
Where’s the music in that?
Artificial Latin flavor
Sometimes cheering crowds don’t translate to actual support. President Obama wowed perhaps a quarter-million people in Berlin during the 2008 campaign, but most of them were non-U.S.-voting Germans.
Mitt Romney got a rousing response last week at the University of Miami when he was interviewed by Univision. The network’s moderator later said that was because the campaign couldn’t fill all the seats allotted for student supporters and bused activists in to fill them.
The activists naturally ignored network admonitions to hold their applause.
It’s unclear whether even such great visuals will be enough.
The latest tracking poll from Latino Decisions shows Romney, already struggling to connect with Latinos, sinking further with that key demographic.
Obama leads Romney by 69 percent to 24 percent in the latest poll — a three-point increase over last week, where he led 68 to 26. “That’s within the margin of error,” said pollster Gary Segura, but “the trend over the last four weeks is unmistakable and statistically significant.” Romney’s support had been around 30 percent.