What Kipling Kn(o)(e)w(s) About Dostoyevsky

And this one, too, in last week’s Economist. Discussing NATO’s role in Afghanistan, the newspaper notes "The old truth of counter-insurgency still holds: armies can win every battle, yet lose the will to fight an intractable war." Lord Ashdown, "the British politician and ex-commando who was nearly appointed as the United Nations’ envoy to Kabul," is cited for his entirely apropos reference to Kipling, (right, so that’s me, quoting the Economist’s anonymous correspondent, quoting Ashdown, quoting Kipling), who in his poem Arithmetic on the Frontier, "describ[ed] the British empire’s troubles fighting Afghan tribesmen armed with the jezail, a home-made musket:

A scrimmage in a Border Station
A canter down some dark defile
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail.

The Economist’s correspondent writes "In such a fight against a weaker but elusive enemy, says Kipling, ‘the odds are on the cheaper man’." 

"The State of NATO: A Ray of Light in the Dark Defile." The Economist (27 May 2008).

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