Matthew Yglesias asked for a few capsule biographies. I provide except for the bit about documenting my claims.
— Gulbiddin Hekmatyar
— Warren G Harding
— Jean Monney
— Ahmad Shah Massoud (he's found a biography)
— William Sherman
- Gulbiddin Hekmatyar
Former Prime Minister of Afghanistan. Notable as the prime minister whose militia did the most damage to his capital.
Head of the Hezb i Islami an extremist and fairly violent Islamic political organization that fought commmunist youths (and I believe shot bird shot at the legs of bare legged women) before the Afghan communists seised power.
Following the communist coup, the Hezb i Islami quickly switched to guerilla warfare. A US journalist in Peshawar Pakistan was allarmed that each Islamic leader answered "me" when asked who was the most effective Islamic anti communist and much more allarmed when all but Gulbiddin Hekmatyar answered Gulbiddin Hekmatyar when asked who was the second most effective.
There was another communist coup in which the "masses" faction of the party lead by Hafizulla Amin overthrough the "flag" faction (mocked as "the royal Afghan communist party) headed by Nur Muhamad Taraki. Then the USSR invaded, killed Amin and installed Bebrek Karmel (later replaced by Najib who changed his name back to Najibullah).
During the war with the USSR, G.H. became rather unpopular with the other 6 Peshawar based US funded Islamic groups. the Hesb i Islami fought the Peshawar other 6 from time to time. However, the USA just handed the money over to Pakistan and let the Pakistanis decide how to distribute it. Thus the radically anti western anti US G.H. got more money from the USA than any of the others.
Then the USSR left. After a while the Afghan communists were defeated basically when ethnic Uzbeck communist general Rashid Dostam switched sides. The Peshawar 7 formed a coalition government. The top position (President) was given to B. Rabani, the leader of the smallest and weakest group. G.H. was named Prime Minister. Ahmed Shah Massoud became defense minister.
The coalition did not get along and resorted to techniques more extreme than the filibuster or budget reconciliation. I blinked and when my attention was engaged again, prime minister G.H. and his army were beseiging his capital. One might notice on TV that Kabul is a wasteland. It was almost undamaged in the war with the USSR, not much damaged (because there wasn't all that much left to damage) by the Taliban when they seized power and not even much damaged by the USA/UK/Northern Alliance when the Taliban lost power. It was destroyed by the artillery of Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
The Taliban emerged from their madrasses where, for some reason, they seem to have used tanks and didactic aids. In fact, they were clearly organized by the Pakistani ISI which had lost patience with the Peshawar 7. In their first act they crushed the Hezb i Islami. G.H. ceased to be a powerful person. His name briefly reappeared when Donald Rumsfeld incorrectly asserted that he was a member of the Taliban.
— Warren G Harding
was the first President of the USA elected in part by women. Elected in 1920. Nominated by the Republican party after an intense campaign and vetting consisting entirely of answering "no" when asked if he had ever done anything which might embarrass the party. His answer was false as he was conducting an extramarital affair which he continued in the White House.
The only aspect of his job at which he excelled was meeting and greeting. He admitted that he was usually convinced by the last advisor to talk to him. Of him it was said
"he is the worst speaker I have ever heard except for a few journalists and a dipsomaniacal professor (not me I wasn't even born yet)" H.L. Mencken
"It's not what he doesn't know that scares me. It's what he knows for sure that just aint so". -- that guy from Oklahoma with the rope tricks.
Presided over the famous teapot dome scandal. Was sent to Alaska where he
1) couldn't embarrass the party
2) could see Russia.
At an infected King crab and died.
William Tecumseh Sherman major general in the Union army. Lead an army which burned a swath 50 miles wide across Georgia and then burned Atlanta. In 1976 some wanted him to be President. He said "If nominated I will not campaign. If elected I will not serve." At around the same time he warned kids that, while they might think that war is all glory, in fact it is all hell.
His kid brother Senator Sherman, was less unwilling to get involved in politics. He was a populist Republican. No not like Rush Limbaugh. I mean he introduced a bill called the Sherman anti-trust act which is still relevant today, even though Altanta has been rebuilt.
Son of famous eurocrat Jean Monnet and Jane Money.
Jean Monnet was an enthusiast for European unification who tirelessly fought hindbound nationalists (including especially Charles DeGaulle) and is now buried in the Pantheon.