“I know quite a lot about the past,” the Russian ambassador, Zamir Kabulov, said in polished English with a broad smile during an interview in Kabul one morning last week. “But almost nothing about the future.”
In fact, it is precisely because of a belief that the Soviet past may hold lessons for the American future that a talk with Kabulov is valued by many Western diplomats here. That is a perception that has drawn at least one NATO general to the Russian Embassy in Kabulov’s years as ambassador, though the officer involved, not an American, showed no sign of having been influenced by what he heard, Kabulov said.
“They listen, but they do not hear,” he said with another wry smile.
“Their attitude is, ‘The past is the past,’ and that they know more than I do.” Perhaps, too, he said, “they think what I have to say is just part of a philosophy of revenge,” a diplomatic turning of the tables by a government in Moscow that is embittered by the Soviet failure here and eager for the United States to suffer a similar fate…
“They’ve already repeated all of our mistakes,” he said, speaking of what the United States has done, and failed to do, since the Taliban were toppled from power in November 2001 and U.S. troops began moving into old Soviet bases like the one at Bagram, north of Kabul.
“Now, they’re making mistakes of their own, ones for which we do not own the copyright.”
Truly informative article – as much for military analysis as political. I’m never certain how many Americans distinguish between an understanding of history and political ideology; but, obviously Kabulov does.