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Steven Pressfield On Why We Need To Understand Tribalism In Afghanistan

Wednesday, July 8, 2009
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HH: It’s fiction week on the Hugh Hewitt Show. Yesterday if you listened, Brad Thor and Alex Berenson. Tomorrow, Dan Silva, Friday it’s going to be Vince Flynn. It’s the week that celebrates everything you love to read in the summer and all year around. And I really got this series started with my guest who’s back in studio. This all got started more than a year ago when Steven Pressfield visited me via the phone, then he came in to talk about his magnificent Killing Rommel novel, which is still in bookstores, will be out in paperback soon. I’ve got it linked from Amazon.com. And Steven Pressfield, of course, wrote the Gates Of Fire, he wrote the Tides Of War, two novels that I just great admiration for. And then he came back with Killing Rommel, and that’s what we’re going to talk about in hours two and three today. But Steven Pressfield, welcome back into the Hugh Hewitt studio.

SP: Hey, thanks, Hugh. It’s great to be here again.

HH: Now you know what’s so funny, and we’re here for a special purpose today. We’ll talk Rommel in the next two hours. But I loved the Gates Of Fire, and I loved the Tides Of War. And it turns out, though, the book that I’m reading when I go on my vacation next week is going to be the Afghan Campaign, the one I’ve not read, because I don’t like Alexander. But your new video series at www.stevenpressfield.com persuaded me I’ve got to read that book, because I’ve got to read about Alexander’s Afghanistan campaign.

SP: Well, I knew there would be some payoff to those videos, Hugh, and there it is.

HH: Well, let’s talk about this project, and I want everyone to understand, if you go to www.stevenpressfield.com, you’re going to be able to experience these five videos. And they’re really what, five, six minutes each? Seven minutes?

SP: Yeah, five minutes each, yeah.

HH: And you made five of them. Tell people why you did this project. There’s no money in this for you. Why spend what had to be a lot of money and a lot of time doing these videos.

SP: Well, that’s a really good question. Let me tell you what the videos are. They’re really not fiction related at all, or actually political. I think of them as op-ed pieces. They’re like video op-ed pieces, and it’s about a sort of a passionate pet peeve of mine, or whatever, which is about tribalism in the wars that we’re fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and specifically in Afghanistan. And I think that it’s a subject that is totally underappreciated and underplayed. It’s starting to get more play, but I think that we are not as aware of it as we should be. So I decided, this actually came out of my research about Alexander the Great in his campaign in Afghanistan, which I’ll get into I’m sure as we talk about this.

HH: You bet.

SP: But I just wanted to kind of get this out there. And to write an op-ed piece, I think, is kind of an exercise in futility, because nobody reads anything anymore.

HH: Right.

SP: So I thought let me do this in videos, and I decided to do five of them, and put them up on my site, and then try to get them out there somewhere, just really trying to get this out there into the blogosphere, the thinkosphere, whatever it is out there.

HH: Now they’re very, very high quality, shot in black and white, and mostly you’re open collar or a turtle neck here. They’re very casual, they’re very different. How long did they take to produce, just as a matter of technical before we get to the substance. They look really well done.

SP: Well, I have to give credit to my “assistant”, Amanda Tunnel, who’s really like a small Stanley Kubrick here. I originally, I just wanted to do these originally just like with one of those little flip cameras, almost like a webcam thing. And talking to Amanda, I said well, can we get any student filmmakers or something like this? And the next thing you knew, we were into a studio, and two cameras and makeup, and hair and the whole thing. And she produced them, she directed them, and they really came out great. She sort of pattered them after a New York Times series of interviews with rock stars or something, where they just did it very simple against a black background, and it worked.

HH: They’re extraordinarily well done. Now I remember when Killing Rommel came out. You did a special promotion on the web for that. You went out in the desert and you taped a whole bunch of…is that when you got the bug for this kind of thing?

SP: You’ve got a great memory, Hugh. Yeah, you know, it all starts…can we get into this in a little detail here? I don’t want to…

HH: Oh yeah.

SP: …bore your listeners or anything.

HH: Oh absolutely.

SP: But you know, this kind of comes back to fiction, and the sort of problem if you’re a writer these days, is that there are no book reviews anymore. You know, newspapers have really kind of gone, curtailed so much of that stuff, that when, if you have a new book coming out, how do you let anybody even know that it’s there? And so when Killing Rommel was coming out, I just said I’ve got to do something, and I just kind of got this idea to do a video. So we wound up going out into the desert and using war footage, and we had the Long Range Desert Group Preservation Society, these guys, Jack Valenti is the head guy from up north. They came down with replica vehicles, and they were driving all over the dunes and everything, and it turned out to be like a little movie. It was a lot of fun.

HH: Well, I’m impressed that that was marketing, but this is really passion. This is just Steven Pressfield’s passion.

SP: It is. There’s no money in this. In fact, I’m losing my butt on this thing.

HH: Well, I want to talk about it, and I want people to go…and I’m going to try and hopefully turn some people onto The Afghan Campaign where I started. You heard me talk at the beginning. Yesterday, Brad Thor and Alex Berenson, tomorrow Dan Silva, the next day Vince Flynn. Here you are, you’re batting clean up in the middle of the week. You’re right there in the number three position on a Wednesday. And the key is, you write thrillers, but you write thrillers not only grounded in real human drama and the courage of the warrior, but in the past. And so they have to be, they’re not made up. You have to be close to the details.

SP: Right, historical fiction, yeah.

HH: I’ve just never cared about Alexander. But now you’ve persuaded me via these videos that I have to. Why do people need to read The Afghan Campaign? Why do they need these videos? Why is it all relevant to what’s going on in Afghanistan right now? It’s really your first video of the five.

SP: Well, it’s, we Americans tend to think anytime we get involved anywhere that we are the first ever to have done it. Nothing ever happened before us. But in fact, in Afghanistan, the Russians obviously were there in the 1980s, the British were there twice in the 19th Century, 18th Century, and Alexander was there for three years. It was really the roughest fighting he ever had in his kind of conquest of the world. And the same stuff happened to him, and happened to the British, and happened to us. And what happened, basically, is it was a Western superpower type of army going up against a tribal enemy. And the same types of tactics were used on both sides, and the same sequence of events played out. But what’s really interesting, Hugh, here to me, is that Alexander was pre-Christian, and his enemies were pre-Islamic. This was like 330 B.C. So what that means to me is if we have a war that happened 2,300 hundred years ago that’s a real parallel for the war that’s happening today, and if you can take religion out of the equation, which you can, since Islam wasn’t going to be around for another 900 years, then you have to ask yourself what’s the common denominator here? What is the constant, particularly about the enemy? And I’m convinced that it’s tribalism that gives the enemy its strength, that yields the kind of tactics they use, and that Western armies seem to keep blundering up against tribalism and the tribal mindset, thinking that they’re like us, and that we can negotiate with them like we would negotiate with other Western peoples, or fight against them. And we can’t. We need to keep that in mind.

HH: Defeat this one question that kept coming back to me through all five videos. But Steven, we’ve beaten other tribes in other places. And we’ve used some tactics, like we broke the Japanese tribe, which was a tribe, and we did it by sending MacArthur there for ten years afterwards. We broke the tribes of the West. You talk a lot about the Apaches, the Comanche, the Sioux. Why can’t people break these tribes?

SP: Well, there’s a very good reason, and that is that we were trying to conquer those other people. It was an all-out war to bring them to their knees. Here, we’re not even there for regime change as we were in Iraq. We’re really there to help. And in fact, we want to make the tribes into friends and allies. I mean, if we wanted to go in on any major…well, I should take that back, because the Russians went in there, and they did want to conquer, and they failed. So it goes to show you, in a place that is so, where the terrain is so rugged and so inaccessible, a lot of the firepower that Western armies can bring to bear just doesn’t do any good. But again, the main point is that we’re not really there to conquer. We’re there to be first…

HH: I also thought it might be, because you said there are 42 million Pashtun?

SP: 42 million Pashtuns not in Afghanistan, but what you could call Pashtunistan, in the federally administered tribal areas along the Pakistan border. 42 million. That is a lot of people. That’s a lot of tribesmen.

HH: I actually had no idea. I thought it was much less densely populated.

SP: I didn’t know that, either, until…but it’s, you know, there’s a lot of guys over there.

HH: When Alexander rolled in, was it that densely populated, obviously?

SP: Oh, I’m sure it was. I really…

HH: But in terms of relative to the amount of resources he had? Was it still a pretty…

SP: Yes, there were plenty of enemy there, and they kept coming in from farther and farther away to join the fight.

HH: Okay, not in terms of how these videos have been received, and again, they’re over at www.stevenpressfield.com, you can watch them today, you’ll be transfixed. You’ll sit down and you’ll start going through them. How’s the military reacted to them, because you say some interesting things in here.

SP: You know, I haven’t had as much reaction from the military as I thought I would yet. But everything has been positive so far. In particular, there was, I don’t know how much detail I want to get into this, or your audience can handle, but there was an article in the Washington Post last week about a young captain, Michael Harrison, who is over in Konar Province now, and we’ve been corresponding, and he’s been contributing, and I’m going to do another…I’ve been blogging along with this on the website.

HH: Yeah.

SP: And in another couple of days, I did a very well received one three days ago, and I’m going to have a follow up on Friday.

HH: Yeah, and I’m hoping that people who go there to comment and contribute, it’s a very high level of conversation. Don’t go spam it. I mean, you’ve invited especially veterans of the theaters to come and speak.

SP: Yes.

HH: And I appreciate that, because that’s who I want to hear from.

SP: Yes.

HH: You’ve set the table. I want to hear from the war fighters about the warriors they’re up against.

– – – –

HH: By the way, which one is more important – The Afghan Campaign or the Virtues Of War? Do I have to read them both? And if so, in which order?

SP: Well, they’re both really good, but I would say The Afghan Campaign. And don’t worry, Hugh, it’s actually not, it’s told from the point of view from an infantryman, just a regular infantryman. So it’s not a real Alexander the Great story. He only appears kind of in the background. So it’s easy to read.

HH: And we’re talking with Steven Pressfield, who’s in studio with me.

SP: Even a guy from Harvard can get through it.

HH: I love all the other ones. It’s just for whatever reason, it’s one of my quirks. The whole Mary Renault, her books of Alexander, I just never, even wanted to read them. Now, we’re talking about these videos that Steven Pressfield has put up on tribalism and the Afghan campaign underway now. www.stevenpressfield.com, for those of you who are e-mailing me and saying I can’t find…www.stevenpressfield.com. Let’s go through these a little bit as a time. Number one, similarities, you start out by trying to explain what tribalism is in the very first video to people. And my notes say the key distinction is the difference between nation and citizen on the one side, and tribe and tribal members on the other side. Explain to people why this matters so much.

SP: Okay, that’s a very good question, Hugh, right on target here. We in the West, this is the case that I’m making, the thesis I’m making, and this obviously I am over-generalizing, but bear with me a little bit here. In the West, the primary political unit is the nation, and the constituent unit of the nation is the citizen. In the East, the primary social unit is the tribe, and the constituent individual unit is the tribesman. And these are two completely different breeds of cat. And that’s the whole point that I’m trying to make. A citizen values…let’s talk about freedom for just a second, and the difference between them. A citizen, and it’s interesting, because when George Bush first went into Iraq, one of his positions that I thought made a lot of sense until you thought about it more deeply, was that if we in the West just sort of hold out freedom to other peoples, that they’ll grab it, because it’s a universal good. But it’s not true, because freedom to the Western citizen means individual autonomy – you and me able to rise or fall however we want to in our society. Freedom to the tribesman means independence autonomy for the group. And so the tribesman does not want individual autonomy. He values the cohesiveness and the togetherness, the unity of the tribe or the group. He’s a proud member of a group based in history, and with a long, proud tradition. So when we’re offering freedom to people who have a completely different view of it, it’s not going to sell. They want freedom…what freedom means to them is get off my land, don’t tell me how to live my life, let me be, live my ancient, proud ways the way I have. So there’s one big difference between a citizen and a tribesman. Another difference is, should I keep going, Hugh?

HH: Oh, yeah.

SP: …is the attitude of a citizen or a tribesman towards the Other, with a capital O. Now in the West, we citizens value multiplicity. We value the melting pot. Dissent is something to be encouraged, because it enriches our lives. But to the tribal mindset, think about Iraq. Think about Afghanistan. Dissent becomes heresy. It becomes the Taliban will not tolerate any kind of dissent at all. And a lot of the fundamentalist sects over there, which are functioning as tribes, won’t tolerate any dissent. It becomes heresy. So there’s a whole total different thing there. The citizen in the West usually prizes female empowerment. Quite different with tribes all around the world. Females are suppressed in tribes. So there are a number of different points of view. And when we in the West are going over there trying either to negotiate with or to defeat a tribal enemy, we need to remember that they think differently than we do. Now that doesn’t mean that we can’t understand it, but it’s a different mindset.

HH: Now if you weren’t a student of Ancient Greece, and you are, so I’m going carefully here, I would say now wait a minute, the Greeks proved that the appeal of universal’s human rights is in fact universal, that it’s what they used to defeat Cyrus, and it’s what they used…

SP: I would beg to differ with you.

HH: And that’s where, yeah. And so at what point does that appeal of the universal human right penetrate the tribal culture? Because the Greeks had to come from somewhere. They had to come from tribes.

SP: Yes, but that’s really, you’re on target here, Hugh, but the Greeks actually, when we think about the citizen, the concept of a citizen, a free individual and autonomous individual, the Greeks really invented that.

HH: Right.

SP: That really came, you know, in around 500 B.C. in Athens.

HH: And tribes are much older.

SP: Tribes are much older.

HH: As you say in your first video, they’re much older.

SP: So citizens evolved out of that, but if you think about it, in the world at that time, only in Greece were there such a thing as citizens. You either had in the Persian Empire a monarchy, where you had subjects, or else you just had the ancient tribes which really were covering the globe at that time, and still are covering much more of the globe than we think. And I brought an article in here, but I don’t know if I can find the phrase that I’m looking for here. We’ll have dead. Maybe I better not do that.

HH: We’ll find it during the break.

SP: Okay.

HH: But…

SP: Where were we again?

HH: We were talking about when do these tribes give in to the spread of universal human rights, because…

SP: I don’t think they do. I don’t think they do. In fact, I think that one of the things that we need in my opinion to recognize in a place like Afghanistan, Pakistan right now is that except in the cities, the tribal ways are not going to change. They’ve been around for 10,000 years, and they’re not, they just are impervious to change, because tribes love their way of life. And I can understand that.

HH: You write, or you say in your first video that there’s cohesion, there’s belonging, and the outsiders are god-abandoning devils. And that’s how they view us. But what do the women think about this, Steven Pressfield? I just saw the movie, The Stoning Of Soraya M. I don’t know if you’ve gone to see it.

SP: I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t seen it.

HH: And it’s about tribal life, but with an overlay of sort of Islamist extremist “Koranic justice”. And you think to yourself, the women must hate tribalism, because they are, wherever there are tribes, suppressed. So tell me, don’t they eventually corrode the tribe?

SP: Well, you know, that is kind of above my pay grade here. I’m not really too familiar with the inner world of that. It would be very interesting to have, say, some Pashtun tribesman in here with us.

HH: Right.

SP: …to ask him what really happens. But I would bet you that the way it actually is, if you really are a woman, you really are in that world, is probably not the way we see it from the outside.

HH: Almost certainly not.

SP: And I’ll tell you, there’s an interesting thing that I didn’t even know until I was getting feedback from these videos, is that there is a big difference between Pashtunwali, the honor code of the Pashtun tribesmen, and Sharia law, the hard-core Islamic law. And in fact, under Pashtunwali, women are treated much better than they are under Sharia law.

HH: And hospitality is not a part of Sharia law, is it? I mean, the hospitality code that you talk about is fairly pronounced.

SP: That I don’t know, but it certainly is part of the Pashtun.

HH: Right.

SP: And any tribal society has malmasti is what it’s called, the obligation of hospitality to take the stranger in and protect the stranger. But Pashtunwali, as far as the treatment of women, I didn’t even know this, that in Pashtunwali, no women, no woman may be accused of any crime, that women are immune from any sort of thing like that. Also, a woman may divorce her husband, but a man can’t divorce his wife without heavy indemnity. So sort of the bottom line for that, what may be interesting for us is, if we’re trying to keep the Taliban forces out of an area or something, who the Taliban bringing in Sharia, if we ally ourselves with the tribal codes, that might be a way to drive a wedge in there.

– – – –

HH: In the third one, Steven Pressfield, you talk about the tribes with which we are familiar – Apache, Sioux, Masai, Zulu, and those we don’t think about – the Mafia, the United States Marine Corps. And no matter what they are, these tribes are not democracies, and they are not, they’re not hospitable to strangers, and they are not going away.

SP: That’s exactly true, Hugh, and I think…let me run through just a couple of sort of characteristics of tribes.

HH: Yup.

SP: And this will ring a bell for our audience. For one thing, like I say, tribes are not democracies. They are hierarchies. Tribes have chiefs, and tribes have Indians. Now that’s not to say that in the tribal councils, they aren’t very egalitarian. They are. It’s a kind of natural democracy. But it’s certainly not a democracy in terms of voting or anything like that. Another thing about tribes is, tribes do not govern themselves by a system of laws, but by a code of honor. And that, we can certainly see in the Native Americans, and in Pashtuns over in Afghanistan. And if you think about it, street gangs, prison gangs, the Mafia. That’s why that, they do govern themselves by a code of honor. In tribes, another thing, tribes are hostile to all outsiders. Tribes are kind of the ultimate sort of us versus them point of view. If you think about the names the tribes have for themselves, for instance, the Navajo call themselves the dineh, which means the people, which shows it’s sort of a totally ethnocentric point of view, that a tribe sees themselves as the center of the universe, and everyone else is an outsider, is an infidel or a gentile, or something that’s not the chosen people. Tribes also are perpetually at war with all other tribes. If you think about the Native Americans, the Plains Indians of the American West, they were just constantly, the Sioux were constantly fighting the Comanche. That was it. That was just…

HH: Tribal members are all by definition warriors, if they’re really in the leadership structure or any kind of participation structure within the tribe.

SP: They are. And tribes don’t like progress, and they don’t like change. Tribes think that they have found the way it’s meant to be, and they want it to stay like that. So when we blunder into these situations, as our well-meaning and well-intentioned Westerners trying to bring Britney Spears videos, female empowerment and courts of law, and we wonder well why is this not, why isn’t this selling…

HH: Now I’ve got a friend, he’s at my Church, I see him every couple of weeks. And his grandson is an international aid worker in Afghanistan, building schools in Afghanistan. In one of your videos, you say they’re not really fond of education, either. The tribes really are not into education. They know what they need to know, and they make sure they pass that on.

SP: Up to a certain point, yeah.

HH: So is the whole U.N. effort, the whole effort to bring literacy to tribal areas doomed, fruitless, beside the point, Steven Pressfield?

SP: I think, you know, obviously every tribe is different from every other, and some are more amenable to that. But I would say that in the long haul, it is doomed, I think, because the tribes only want up to the increased education that they want. Beyond that, when people start getting educated, tribesmen, they start wanting to change the system.

HH: Yeah.

SP: And it becomes a threat to everything that the tribesmen know and love.

HH: Now you also point out that the primary occupation of a tribesman is war. That’s what they do. That’s what they’re grown up…they’re not soldiers, they’re not citizen soldiers, they are warriors, and they will always be that way. Now that’s a very different mindset from a Western approach to these conflicts.

SP: Yes, it is. And if you think about the Mujahideen, when the Russians were in there over in Afghanistan, how the tribesmen just naturally took to fighting them, they knew exactly, they’ve been fighting in those hills, Hugh, for thousands of years. They know all the ambush sites, they know the little rat lines that they can get back away from firepower coming at them from the West. Tribesmen, if you think about the Native Americans, and how every young male was a warrior, and that was what they trained for their whole lives, that was what they dreamed of to do great deeds like their fathers and grandfathers did? There isn’t, in the traditional tribal society, there isn’t the real specialization of labor like we have here, where you grow up and you want to work for IBM, or you want to be a shoemaker. You want to be a warrior there, and that’s why everybody has an AK-47 under the floorboards. That’s the name of the game over there.

– – – –

HH: Steven Pressfield, I’ve been naming people who have sold a lot of books like you. I mean, I think this week, my guests have probably sold 20 million books. Do you read other thriller writers, by the way?

SP: Actually, I don’t.

HH: You don’t. You’re one of those guys. Brad Thor reads them all. He told me yesterday, oh, I don’t mind, it’s not going to ruin…but you try and stay away from them.

SP: I read mostly non-fiction. I read mostly history and stuff like that, and part of the reason is that when I read someone with, a fiction writer with a very strong voice, it can start to mess with my voice in my head, too, you know?

HH: Yeah.

SP: And I don’t want to do that. I sort of like to stay dumb, just focused on what I know how to do.

HH: Well, the last of your videos is anything but dumb, number five. It has how to win in Afghanistan. I want to tell people you were very humble at the beginning of this, and I appreciated it, saying I’m not a general, I’m not a strategist, I’m a student of history, and here’s what I’ve drawn. And I think it’s important for civilians to be able to say these things. And I’ll bet you that people like Bing West and other folks who are very experienced in war appreciate A) that you have opinions, but B) that you couch it that way.

SP: Well, I think that’s the only way to couch it, really. I mean, not being a general or a fighter over there, I just sort of offer it like I say in Rod Serling’s old phrase, submitted for your approval, you know?

HH: And as someone, though, who has studied…have you read the Peter Hopkirk books, War At The Top Of The World and The Great Game?

SP: No, I haven’t. I have The Great Game, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.

HH: It is so reminiscent of what you had to say, and how the British would make advances.

SP: Right.

HH: And they go Western, and they get wiped. As soon as they went Western, they got wiped out. Number one, accept that they are what they are. That’s when you said there are three keys to winning in Afghanistan. Number one, accept that things are the way they are. What do you mean by that?

SP: I think that…now obviously, the tribal ways are not everywhere in Afghanistan. In Kabul, you know, you have regular Westernized citizens. But throughout in the rural areas, certainly in the seven really troubled provinces that run from Kabul towards the Pakistan border, and in the south around Kandahar where the Taliban have their strongholds, you really are talking about tribal ways. And this hasn’t changed in 10,000 years, and it’s not going to change. I mean, one of the things we haven’t talked about, Hugh, here is the appeal of the tribal way of life if you’re a tribesman yourself. And I think it has tremendous appeal. If you think about certain movies like Dances With Wolves, that kind of gave a sort of an accessible way for us to imagine ourselves in a tribe? When you’re in a tribe, you know who you are, you have a tremendous sense of belonging, you’re not prey to the Western evils of alienation, loneliness, isolation, all those kind of things. And so tribal peoples around the world have been willing to die to defend their way of life. They love it. So that’s what I’m saying, is over there, like I said, there are 42 million Pashtun tribesmen in Pashtunistan there, and we’re not going to turn it into Southern California.

HH: And there’s a reason why with a bounty of, what, $7 million dollars on his head, for eight years…

SP: Right, $25 million.

HH: $25 million

SP: …on Osama bin Laden. Has one tribesman come forward yet?

HH: No, and that’s because they live by their code, their honor.

SP: Their code.

HH: And they like it that way. Number two, you want the American military, or perhaps the American public, perhaps the West generally, to set very limited goals for Afghanistan. You’re approving of Robert Gates.

SP: I am approving of Robert Gates, and I think we do have to remember, what are we there for? I mean, we’re really not there to conquer, we don’t want to conquer the place. We just want to make sure that al Qaeda…

HH: We’re not there for the oil.

SP: We’re not there for the oil. We’re not there for the scenery, although it’s beautiful scenery. But we just want to deny the real estate to our terrorist enemies who might use it to organize attacks on us. That’s really all we want. And so let’s keep those…Alexander, he also had limited goals in Afghanistan, or he was forced to have limited goals. He originally wanted to conquer it like he conquered everybody else. But by the time he’d been through three years of hell over there, he kind of dropped down in his goals. And all he wanted, his aim was to move on to India to get the ivory and the gold and all that sort of stuff. So all he wanted was to protect his routes of supply and communication, and he settled for that. And I think that we should do the same thing.

HH: Now you write in one of these that they understand the deal, that they understand what a deal is. Is that what Alexander cut all those centuries ago?

SP: I think that’s exactly right. My point there was, Hugh, was that tribes understand certain things. They understand power, they understand another tribe that’s more powerful than they are, they understand how other tribes think, which is why we’ll get back to that, I’m sure, and tribes understand a deal. Tribes are famous, if you think about it, that no tribe’s ever strong enough to really impose its will permanently on the other tribes. They’re constantly in a state of flux, making accommodations, making deals with other tribes. And also, tribes are famous for switching sides as the Taliban did. You know, the tribe’s got to protect its little place, so that why can’t we use that? The British used it, and I think that throughout history, more powerful nations have made deals and established patronage systems when they’re dealing with tribal enemies. Pakistan is the fourth poorest country on Earth. They need some money. Let’s make a deal.

HH: Dexter Filkins from the New York Times, sitting in the chair you are, talked amazing at how whole segments of the Taliban would just switch sides on a daily basis because someone offered them more money. This is prior to our invasion, and right at the beginning of our invasion, back when it was the Northern Alliance versus the Taliban…

SP: Right, right.

HH: …different, the edge tribes would go back and forth based on the deal. Now you also…

SP: It’s like politics, right? Isn’t that the same thing in the House of Representatives, right?

HH: Well, we’ve lost a lot of Republican tribes recently. They’ve gone over. I hope they come back at some point. Steven Pressfield, in terms of you also say they respect the strength of other tribes.

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