Monday, February 20, 2006

A simple plan

John Simpson, sage of the BBC, reveals his master plan for making Afghanistan a more peaceful place: Simply prove to the tribes of the country that there are better ways of securing honour and dignity than supporting Islamic extremists. Quoting one Vanni Cappelli with admiration, Simpson says:

[CIA missile attacks] will not, Cappelli argues, "sway this warrior people if it feels it can uphold its honour and dignity by supporting Islamic extremists. The trick is proving to them that there are better ways to secure these things."

Cappelli is entirely right. If the trick can be performed, Afghanistan will be a safer, better, more prosperous country.

What a stroke of genius! Just perform this "trick" of convincing the tribes not to support our enemies, and everything will be fine. Why didn't anyone else think of this?

And how to perform this trick? Well, simply "reason" with them, naturally.

The trouble is that, of course, the irksome American public "favors the use of force rather than reason," a fact which Simpson seemingly thinks is evidenced by the reluctance of US newspapers to publish Capelli's "eminently sensible" article, Capelli being "one of the most thoughtful American commentators on Afghanistan."

So there you have it. Disavow the use of force and just convince Afghani tribes, by reasoning with them, not to support terrorists. Easy as pie. What has Bush been thinking? Simpson for president, anyone?

BTW, I don't know the first thing about Vanni Capelli, but it is probably worth keeping in mind the types of people that Simpson has used his column to promote in the past.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the types of people that Simpson has used his column to promote in the past

In addition to Cole we can add the names of Denbeaux & Denbeaux. These gents have produced a report on Guantanamo.

Simpson uses their work in his writings, but he fails to name them, provide a link to their report or point out their interest.

Simpson describes their work as "a thorough analysis by an American law professor and a defence lawyer". They qualify their report with "The authors are counsel for two detainees in Guantanamo"

As a consequence dozens quote data from Simpson's report in making comments on the BBC's "Have your Say", probably thinking that Simpson must be quoting independent experts.

Little to they realise Simpson's collection of biased sources.

See fisking at

12:13 AM  
Anonymous bc10 said...

I got the impression from John Simpson's rants that he has a very inflated sense of his self-importance.

"No doubt all sorts of people up and down the land will be saying how disgusting it is that a man in his 60s should be fathering a child"

Umm well, actually I can't recall anybody even caring. He is treated like a hero at the BBC though.

12:33 AM  
Blogger JamesLW said...

Yeah, we should just reason with the warlords,"Can't we all just get along."

That'll do the "trick"--I'm sure.

8:34 AM  
Blogger jgm said...

I believe Vanni Cappelli, besides being an expert on Afghanistan, was the inspiration for Milli Vanilli.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There does not appear to be much thrown up on the name by google.

So, Simpson reads some obscure guy's article, and decides that this should be the basis for coalition policy in Afghanistan.

Brilliant. That is why we pay upwards of half a million a year - possibly a million or more - to keep Simpson on the road. (he was always taxfree because he "lived" in Eire, I believe)

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There does not appear to be much thrown up on the name by google."
However he has submitted a profile on this site:

Where he describes himself as male,39 and a frontiersman.

So that sums it up. A born again hippy in a Davy Crocket hat and King Crimson T-shirt.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vanni Capelli is an outstanding individual. He is a published writer. I live and work in his community, and I have conversed with him uncountable times. I have also read a wide array of his writings- articles from magazines, publications, and yes, even scholarly journals. He is, indeed, a "frontiersman," and he is not "A born again hippy in a Davy Crocket hat and King Crimson T-shirt." You, my friend, make some radical judgements. If you research Mr. Capelli further, you will learn that he has earned every notch in his belt. Read one of his articles, don't only read the quote.

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the above poster- I would like to make you aware that his name was slightly misspelled, it is "Vanni Cappelli"- that search should yield better results.

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Vanni Cappelli said...

What fun to be the butt of jokes by the stay-at-home computer set who doubt that four extensive trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9-11 don't qualify you to call yourself a frontiersman ! Perhaps you should read what I fathomed there before you comment further on these complicated matters. You can start with my essay "The Alienated Frontier: Why The United States Can't Get Osama bin Laden",which was published in the Fall 2005 issue of "Orbis" , the quarterly of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. It is online at :

Finally, I wear an Afghan pakool hat, not a coonskin one, and though King Crimson was an awesome band, you'll more likely find me listening to the Mahavishnu Orchestra and ELP.

My gratitude to the previous poster.thm

Cheers !

4:41 PM  
Blogger lorna said...

Brilliance in Blogdumbland.

Well, at least one statement on this blog rings true…the owner admits that he doesn’t know the first thing about Vanni Capelli.


As Senior editor of Chronogram magazine (, I have worked with Mr. Capelli and published several of his articles on Afghanistan. A thoughtful writer who keeps his eyes focused on all the complex and contradicting realities of the situation in Afghanistan, I find Mr. Capelli to be a journalist of the highest order. His courage to travel to places others refuse to go, to seek out information from a wide variety of people and sources in these places, and to report with objectivity and intelligence is a rarity in today’s world where any Blogdumdum with an Internet connection, knowledge of language, and the ability to type can write anything they want, send it out to the world, and not be held accountable. It never ceases to amaze me how these computer couch potato warriors know so much about people they have never spoken to and places they have never journeyed. For a minute there I thought I was reading the Bill O”Reilly’s website, or perhaps Juan Cole’s. In this case, Mr. Capelli’s detractors had never even heard of him and yet felt it appropriate to denigrate him from the comfort of their anonymous lairs.

Mr. Capelli is indeed a frontiersman and the farthest thing from a born again hippy (Vanni, I dare say you must be incredibly amused by this). And while I have never seen him wear a King Crimson shirt or Davy Crocket coonskin cap, I have seen him sport his very cool Afghan paktool.


Lorna Tychostup

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Caine Rose said...

Mr. Cappelli is an erudite scholar of Afghan history and politics and furthermore, someone unafraid to befriend the hungry, bleeding and forsaken commonfolk of a land steeped in traditions of hospitality and autonomy.

As a colleague who has walked the war-torn streets of Kabul alongside Mr. Cappelli and borne witness to his encyclopedic cache of facts and stories of more than two hundred years of volitile Afghan history, I know firsthand, he is one of the utmost authorities unbiased by a corporate media agenda on the subject.

To mock in any way this man is a fool's errand.

8:45 PM  

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