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Hindsight: Radek Sikorski, “Dust of the Saints”

January 1, 1989

“…most Afghans are not precise with figures, using them instead to express their sense of menace.  A friend of mine once conducted an experiment.  He lay in wait before an ambush, side by side with an Afghan commander, and counted the Soviet tanks, armoured personnel carriers, jeeps and trucks driving along the road in front of them.  There were a hundred and twenty vehicles – frightening enough if you expect that the column is about to attack you.

“How many tanks did you see?” he asked the Afghan.

“800 tanks”, the man answered.  The commander was offended when the Englishman maintained the correct figure in his report, thinking his bravery was being put in doubt.  This attitude rightly made journalists cautious about Afghan testimonies…”

Radek Sikorski, Dust of the Saints, p.26 Paragon House, New York, 1990

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