By William Carter

Photographer, Author, Jazz Musician

Loyalty on Loan

with 2 comments

A young friend of mine served with distinction as a U.S. Marine Corps officer in both Afghanistan and Iraq, working closely with the local tribal fighters. He told me that in those areas, “loyalty is loaned.”  That was a couple of years ago.  I’ve thought about his observation ever since, as the press reports roll in about the ever-shifting sands of the Middle East.

Another well-known quote haunts me: “The Kurds have no friends but the mountains.”  [see for example The Kurdish Project and the fine book by David L. Phillips, The Kurdish Spring (2015).]

Take a look at this 1835 map of autonomous Kurdish areas alone.  Perhaps not coincidentally, those were the days of European-based colonialism. In its wake the West continues to try replacing tribal affinity with “nation building,” while increasing numbers of those directly involved have given up on the chaos and are risking their lives heading for Europe.


Copyright statement: William Carter papers, © Stanford University Libraries. Click here for a detailed usage guide.


Written by bywilliamcarter

October 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Posts

Tagged with , , ,

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Bill, Thanks for sending this… We’re living in a world of irreversible madness you know..There’s a small group of us that meets sporadically for a “longish” (11:30 A.M. to sometimes as late as 3:00) lunch (here in Berkeley, (usually on a Thurs. or Fri., every 2-3 weeks) and I was wondering if you’d be interested in joining us.  We meet at an all-you-can-eat for $11 bucks +add for coffee or tea, middle-eastern place (it’s about 70% vegetarian) with a assortment of very good food. Usually a rather catholic, manageable, group of 4-7 of us, and somewhat provoking, interesting, conversations. I find it fairly stimulating.Would you be interested in joining ?Marshall



    October 6, 2015 at 7:42 pm

  2. dear bill    on loan indeed.  back in the early sixties in the ex-belgian congo, a foreign diplomat expressed surprise to an american colleague when the normally well-disciplined (and well bribed)national assembly voted against the prime minister, washington’s darling named cyrille adoula.”i thought you owned these guys,” said the foreigner. back came the reply: “own them, you cannot even rent them for an entire afternoon.”   i was amused to see your reference to david phillips, long considered something of a jerk by others in the bleeding heart ngo world.    trust all is well but i regret you have decided to leave that most wonderful house. as, doubtless, do you.    hugs    jon r



    October 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: