The Last Man

By Ha roon Par vani

Trans lat ed By Niek Hen drix

30 June 2010

Edit ed by Sam Carter

The Nether lands – de Volk skrant – Orig i nal Ar ti cle (Dutch)

“And in his mercy, the Afghan king or dered to stop at the last man and let the last man go alive.”

On Jan. 6, 1842, the British army with drew from Kabul and began its march through the snow in the di rec tion of India. Be hind them were Afghans on horse back, fir ing at the rear, with their long swords raised.

That was the first day, and the blood col ored the snow a dark red.

On the morn ing of the sec ond day it turned out that dur ing the night many peo ple had died from the cold, and many had lost their limbs by freez ing. That was the sec ond day, and the blood col ored the snow a dark red.

On the third day the British army en tered the Kho ord Kabul Pass. Above them were tribe mem bers who then fired on the troops, and be hind them were Afghans rais ing their ri fles and bran dish ing their swords. That was the third day, and the blood col ored the snow a dark red.

On the fourth day there was thick snow and the British Army trav eled blind, dying from wrath ful blows, dying in the snow. The sil ver of the sword, the black of the night, and the white of the snow. That was the fourth day, and the blood col ored the snow a dark red.

On the fifth day the British were seized by a hor ri ble de spair and did not stop. They marched on all night. But the Afghans fore­saw this. They at tacked, and there in the night the British troops died. Every man died. Every man, under the knives of the Afghans. And in his mercy, the Afghan king or dered to stop at the last man and to let the last man go alive.

It was Dr. William Bry don.

“Let them know,” said the king. “Let the British know what the Afghans did. That is the mes sen ger and he will tell the story. Leave him to ride off in safe ty with his hor ri ble bur den, and the world will know about the Afghan love of free dom, and will trem ble. Our deeds will never be for got ten until the world will per ish into dust.”

And since then the chil dren of the em pire have told sto ries about the past as they sit to geth er to get through the long cold nights, sto ries about the great deeds of those times. And the fa thers tell their sons, and when the son be comes a man, he will tell his son. The tri umph of the Afghans will not be for got ten until Afghanistan it self is de stroyed.

For more than nine years the Amer i cans have been fight ing un suc cess ful ly in the same area. But the sit u a tion is dif fer ent now than it was in the time of the British. The Afghans are now di vid ed into pro and an ti-​Amer i can camps. The Amer i cans have been warned. If the war con tin ues in this man ner, it can lead to a pop u lar up ris ing. The oc to ge nar i an Afghan war, known as the An glo-​Afghan wars. These mem o ries are still fresh. The Amer i cans have cre at ed an image of hos til i ty for them selves. As is so often the case in the his to ry of a di vid ed so ci ety, there is the risk that the peo ple will unite to hate an enemy.

The res ig na tion of Mc Chrys tal — the Amer i can four-​star gen er al — was a big mis take by Obama. Mc Chrys tal tried to re verse the ev er-​in creas ing image of Amer i can hos til i ty. He began to talk with the Afghans.

If Obama trig gered a pop u lar up ris ing with the fir ing of Mc Chrys tal, his first man now would be the last man of that time.

Gen er al Mc Chrys tal ver sus Dr. William Bry don.

Who will later tell the story?

Af ten posten, Nor way

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