In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, France was far and away the richest and most powerful nation in Europe. French replaced Latin as the language of diplomacy and Versailles served as the archetypal McMansion to which lesser monarchs could only aspire. During that time, France meddled endlessly in the conflicts that were continually breaking out in Europe, secretly underwriting one side or the other, and sometimes funneling funds to both sides in order to maximize its influence.
Since the end of World War II, The United States has assumed the role of Meddler in Chief. So it did not surprise me to learn yesterday that America, through the CIA, has been underwriting Hamid Karzai's drug kingpin and Taliban supplier brother. Louis XIV would be proud.
This revelation has sparked a good deal of moral outrage, which at the moment is a politically useful thing. But the fault of America's Afghan policy does not consist in the fact that we have made a pact with the devil. Inasmuch as we have assumed the devil's role in much of the world, whom else would we throw in with? The fundamental problem of our Afghan adventure is that it has no recognizable or plausible purpose, and serves only to waste lives and resources without end.
The Bourbon meddling was equally without point. In the end, it bankrupted the monarchy, and we all know how that story ended. Do you have your knitting, Madame DeFarge?