Not the best book to listen to, because it is so full of names, dates and other specific facts, that I think I would absorb better visually, but I just let it flow over me and didn't try to keep track of the details. This was written by a Pakistani journalist pre 9-11, so it is interesting how he speculates about the future. Rashid looks at Afghanistan - historically, economically, and politically. It is a difficult task, as their history has been very convoluted, with many powers fighting for this crossroads. I think Afghanistan might have been left alone, except it was important to many countries for oil pipelines (which, if I understood properly, have never been built) and as a crossroads for transportation of goods in the region. Rashid had chapters on the drug trade, the oil economy, and the countries surrounding Afghanistan and their relations.
It was hard reading about their treatment of women, though the explanation that the Taliban evolved from a war culture, made sense. In war culture there were very few women, so men didn't know how to relate to them. And now they have destroyed the rich social culture of families and communities that women weave together. I ended up being very angry towards the stupidity of the males in the Taliban. Maybe it was best that Rashid didn't get into more detail about the suffering of women, it already upset me. I had fantasies that the rest of the world could bring all the women out of there and let the men just kill each other off, instead of having a constant supply of new boys to use as cannon fodder. I also found myself getting hard-hearted about the humanitarian aid offered. By feeding the people, taking care of their injuries and needs, they took away that responsibility from the Taliban leaders. For them to say "Allah will provide" was just ludicrous. I did learn that the women in the U.S. protesting the treatment in Afghanistan did make a difference.
Another case if no one had given anyone any modern weapons, they might be in a better palce right now, but I don't know how they will ever build a functioning country at this point. I will have to read up how the US is rebuilding Afghanistan, we hear mostly about Iraq these days.
I also want to reread Kite Runner, as I will now understand the setting better.
(Finished listening to 2/7/06)