As the news is consumed with Britney Spears and imminent collapse of the U.S. economy, I'd like to take a moment to point out that Afghanistan is on a predictable, completely avoidable, decline into chaos, as evidenced by the suicide attack at the Serena Hotel in downtown Kabul yesterday.
The attack was stunning in its audacity: suicide bombers in police uniforms stormed the lobby of the biggest, most prominent hotel in the city on a Monday evening when it was full of meetings (the Norwegian foreign minister) and foreigners working out in the hotel gym, and most likely, socializing in the restaurant. The Taleban took credit, suggesting that the illusion relative safety of the capital has been shattered for good. The new and improved Taleban are back and better than ever. Big shout out to Pakistan for its hard work in that regard!
Up to eight people were killed, including one American, Thor Hesla. That American happened to be a colleague from my political campaigning days who was working out in the gym, according to published reports. He was just living in the bubble of ex-pat Kabul, taking advantage of the Serena's gym after a day at work. Başınız sağolsun to his family and friends.
In places like Afghanistan, there's a complicated mental risk assessment that makes life bearable and normal. You tell yourself that it's all about being at the wrong place at the wrong time (playing the odds). You tell yourself that other people -- Diplomats, dignitaries, police, military or Afghans -- are the targets, not you and your brunch companions. When things like this finally happen to people you know, or people who are like you, your first reaction is "well, that would never happen to me because I would never do X, Y or Z."
Well, I would never work directly for the US Government.
Well, I would never travel around in those annoying convoys.
Well, I would never stay in a hotel that's such an obvious target.
Well, I would never go the gym after work.
The last one is so very, very true. I would have been in the bar.