[SFRA-L] Drones/"Talibikers" (the MAD MAX trilogy) and the Afghan War
erlichrd at muohio.edu
Sat Aug 13 21:10:44 EDT 2011
I paste below a section of the article, "The US love affair with
The image of the high-tech, thoroughly modern US drone vs. "thousands
of Pamir dirtbikes" driven "'Mad Max' style" is useful for thinking
about the war in Afghanistan.
It's probably effete to do so — given the ethical and political
issues involved, and the deaths and suffering — but the image is also
of use for thinking about Cyberpunk and its close relatives.
The drones are smooth, modernist/futurist in streamline design,
piloted "virtually" with a lot of electronics — and reportedly US
$6.5M apiece, cheap as military hardware goes (especially counting in
operator safety) but still way more expensive than a motorcycle
Dirtbikes and motorcycles generally are mechanical rather than
electronic, scruffy, and put real drivers very much in contact with
the road and the physical world.
And it is stereotyping twice over, but it's a safe bet the
"soldierboy" (so to speak) operators of the drones are far more
smooth and clean-cut than the "Talibikers" <http://en.wikipedia.org/
> We saw nothing but dirt, dust and rocks, all the way to the
> horizon. Yet our driver was nervous. He scanned this bleak
> landscape. "Motorcycles," he said. "I am looking for the motorcycles."
> The adaptable neo-Taliban increasingly rely on the classic tactics
> of guerilla warfare. Rather than hold territory, these postmodern
> Islamists-cum-gangsters rely on hit-and-run strikes using something
> I hadn't seen in 2001: motorcycles. Like a scene from the Kazakh
> film epic about Genghis Khan updated by Quentin Tarantino,
> squadrons of bearded bikers are terrorizing Afghanistan's newly-
> and cheaply-paved highways.
> I call them the Talibikers.
> One of the more intriguing revelations in last year's WikiLeaks
> data dump was that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence spy
> agency has been supplying the Taliban with thousands of Pamir
> dirtbikes, including a 2007 shipment of 1,000 to the Waziristan-
> based network led by Mawlawi Jalaludin Haqqani. Talibs ride the
> Pamirs and their preferred brand, the Honda 125 and its Chinese
> knock-offs, to assassinations. They launch attacks on highways from
> bases in villages 10 to 15 kilometers away.
> The Talibikers speed across the desert in great clouds of dust,
> "Mad Max" style, to ambush and bomb fuel trucks. There they set up
> checkpoints where they shake down travelers for cash. Sometimes
> they kidnap motorists and demand ransom payments from their
> families. By the time the hapless Afghan national police shows up,
> the resistance fighters are long gone.
> An early report on the Talibikers appeared in the Telegraph in
> 2003. "The motorcycles have played a key role in Taliban hit-and-
> run operations in the south of the country where the campaign
> against international troops and aid workers has intensified," the
> British newspaper reported in November of that year. "In the latest
> incident, a Frenchwoman working for the United Nations was shot
> dead this month by the pillion passenger on a motorcycle in the
> south-eastern town of Ghazni. The Taliban later claimed
> responsibility for the attack.
> In another recent attack, a group of motorcyclists opened fire on
> an aid convoy near Kandahar, killing four Afghans. In August, two
> motorcyclists threw a grenade into the Kandahar compound of the
> United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, damaging the
> building but causing no injuries."
> ISI-funded motorbikes continue to play a vital role in the
> Taliban's war to drive US and NATO occupation troops out of
> Afghanistan. "Day and night, Taliban assassins on motorbikes hunt
> their victims, often taunting them over the telephone before
> gunning them down in the city’s streets," Paul Watson wrote in The
> Star, a Canadian newspaper, in February 2011.
Professor Emeritus in English
Port Hueneme, CA
Don't make old people mad. We don't like being old in the first
place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off.
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