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Memories of the 28th Century


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I noticed that the moron (my apologies to other people of low intelligence) in the Oval Office has decided to send more troops into Afghanistan, and I started thinking about the string of adventures in Afghanistan, a string of failures that goes back to when the Hindus went through there on their way to India. The current string of foolishness goes back to when the king (Mohammed Zahir Shah) was overthrown in 1973. I wonít try to explain what happened after that, but in 1978 the USSR invaded in support of the nominally communist government, and the rest of the country rose in rebellion. The rebels were the mujahidin, and they were slightly supported by the U.S. and the U.K.,

The Mujahidin were split into several groups headed by warlords. It was plain, old-fashioned chaos, but the low level of military preparedness of the Afghans meant that it took them until 1989, when the Soviets gave up. That started a period of civil war. Initially, the Mujahidin were split, but all were opposed to the government in Kabul. There was plenty of fighting throughout the country for a few years, but it came down to the Mujahidin surrounding Kabul and laying siege. But Pakistan had been stirring the pot by creating a militia from religious students (Talibani). The Taliban started in Pakistan and moved to the Southeast part of Afghanistan, Kandahar Province, and then northerly toward Kabul. The Mujahidin, who had defeated the Soviet Union were united for defeating the Kabul government, but they werenít so hot about slaughtering a collection of religious students carrying AK-47ís, and Hekmatyr broke the siege and withdrew. That gave the Taliban a route into Kabul, which they used, and they subsequently defeated the government troops, who were also hesitant about killing religious students.

The history of Afghanistan goes back to the time of the Ancient Persian Empire, which included some parts of what we call Afghanistan. Earlier than that, in times that are partly mythical, the Hindus went through on their way to India, and some of them stayed. The people of Nuristan includes some blue eyed blonds, and those people probably are descended from the early Indo-Aryans, or some say they are descended from Alexander the Greatís army, which went through there on its way to India. Another possibility is that they are descended from the the Tocharians (AKA White Huns), who had lived in the Tarim Basin until the Huns and other Mongolian tribes drove them out. They went to India, where they were lost among the various people there, but they had included blonds and red-heads, so they could be the source of the Nuristanis.

After the Hindus, Alexander the Great, and the Persian, an endless sequence of invaders went to and or through Afghanistan. Most were minimally successful. Look at the Wikipedia article on the history of Afghanistan to see how many times the country has been attacked. It is located in an inconvenient place that armies have to cross to get to India, and that is the reason for most of the invasions.

Afghanistan isnít an attractive place itself. It is semi-desert, and some parts are true deserts, and most of it is over five thousand feet about sea-level, so it tends to have cold winters. It has been a source for hashish for centuries, and in the last few decades the criminal connections have used it as a source for opium, which grows quite nicely. The country has been able to feed its own people, but agriculture isnít good enough for many food exports. It also has some mineral resources, and that is what the USSR was interested in, and some think that the U.S.A. id also interested in the minerals, but we arenít; although Trump may be.

I skipped over most of the historical details, because it is mostly quite sad. I advise against reading the whole history article for that reason. If you want to read a slightly amusing account of the retreat of the British from Kabul at the end of the First Afghan War, then read George McDonald Fraserís novel Flashman (the first of the Flashman series)

The U.S. should not have sent troops into Afghanistan, but they were sent in, so they should all be withdrawn immediately. Nothing can be gained by making war in Afghanistan, but a great deal can be lost and has already been lost. The good feelings in Muslim countries would be much more useful than anything else. But keeping Pakistan from playing their games in Afghanistan would be good for most players. I realize that Trump is incapable of understanding how bad an idea it is to have troops there, but he should be discouraged, and the generals who persuaded him that troops there would be good should be fired for incompetence.