While away from home, I reread General Sir Harry Flashman's account of the doings in Afghanistan in 1842 ... moved by the recollection that this very year is the bicentennary of the birth of that doughty and intrepid old warrior of the Empire.
There was, in one of my Devon churches, a memorial tablet to a young officer, a relative of the squire, who died in the terrible events of that catastrophe. My eye was often drawn to it ... and I still recollect how incapable imperialists are of learning lessons. The Brits learned nothing from the Afghan war of 1842 ... nor, subsequently, did the Russkies from their ill-considered intrusions ... nor, recently, the Yankies. And still we pontificate and interfere. Was it a couple of decades ago when that fool Blair, he of the Weapons of Mass Destruction, kept on about Women's Rights there ... and our up-to-date fools still do. As if the educational affairs of a far off country are any business of ours. And I gather we are sitting on some Afghan money, to which we solemnly and self-righteously proclaim that we won't give them access until they prove that they are Good Little Boys on our terms.
The pomposity, the mind-shattering arrogance, I find quite incomprehensible.
Some 450 of our young people died in the last Afghan War ... I bet the American numbers were even higher.
And, as far as Education is concerned, what is so marvellous about our educational system?
There were a couple of decades after WW2 when any English girl (or boy) capable of deriving benefit could receive, free of charge if their parents were fairly unmonied, a superb education in Latin and Greek language and literature.