Freedom and Duty: Pericles and Our Times

A democracy cannot fight a long war successfully unless it affirms its virtues and values. After two and a half millenia, Pericles still makes sense.

Issue: Spring 2002

Midway through the long article on Afghanistan in the eleventh edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica, one comes across this description of the inhabitants of that ancient mountain country:

The Afghans, inured to bloodshed from childhood, are familiar with death, and audacious in attack, but easily discouraged by failure; excessively turbulent and unsubmissive to law or discipline; apparently frank and affable in manner, especially when they hope to gain some object, but capable of the grossest brutality when that hope ceases. They are unscrupulous in perjury, treacherous, vain and insatiable, passionate in vindictiveness, which they will satisfy at the cost of their own lives and in the most cruel manner. Nowhere is crime committed on such trifling grounds, or with such general impunity, though when it is punished the punishment is atrocious. Among themselves the Afghans are quarrelsome, intriguing and distrustful; estrangements and affrays are of constant occurrence.

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