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Memories of the 28th Century

Leaving Afghanistan

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Those who have not studied history are doomed to repeat it, while those of us who have studied watch in horror.

With Biden's decision to pull out of Afghanistan, I have been reminded of what came earlier. Many people thought that W's invasion of Afghanistan made sense. But those were people who had not looked at the History of Afghanistan. I will not give a thorough accounting of their history an will only look at the last two hundred years, even though Afghan history has been documented for about 4000 years. The earliest mentions of that region are in the Rig Veda, but no one knows when that was written. The Hindus went through Afghanistan on their way to India. Between then and conquest by Alexander the Great there were lesser invasion and the region was mentioned slightly in Sohrab and Rustam. And in the centuries since, armies have gone through that area, and they only stopped, if they didn't know how to get out, because Afghanistan has destroyed armies, and it continues to do so.
W Bush ordered the invasion, because Osama bin Laden was using the place as his headquarters, but he was so loved by Mullah Omar and the Taliban that in the summer of 2001 Omar had offered to pin Osama in place, so the U.S. could go in and capture him. W didn't accept the offer, and we kno the result of his decision. But there is a lot more that should be known about Afghanistan to give it some sense.

Afghanistan is not a unitary country. It is a collection of different people, languages, and cultures. The largest group is the Pashtun, who live in the region adjacent to Pakistan. The British put the dividing line there to keep the Pashtuns from having a single country from which to raid the world.

Other major ethnic groups, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimaq, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashai, Nuristani, Gujjar, Arab, Brahui, Qizilbash, Pamiri, Kyrgyz, Sadat and others. The relationships among the groups have changed over time, but there is only a limited amount of mixing, and limited cooperation among them also.

It boggles the mind that Afghanistan is a country, at all. It is an unsuccessful empires made of chiefdoms (provinces) of the various ethnic groups; unsuccessful because it hasn't been ruled at at all for most times. Most of the peoples there are left overs from invasions in earlier times. The Nouristanis got there when the early Info-Aryans went through several thousand years ago. The various speakers of Persian languages are also from that period. I don't think that there are any leftovers from Alexander the Great's charge through the region, but there may be. The Hazarras are the remnants of the Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century. One tribe, the Yusefis, are the last of one of the few attempts by Jews to convert others to their religion. And there are many tribes that are subdivisions of the ethnic groups.

No one has managed to hold the place together for very long. If someone in the Defense Department had bothered looking into the history of Afghanistan, then there would have been loud protests against the invasion, but no one even bothered reading Fraser's novel Flashman, which gives an idea how various the place is. If someone had simply read summaries of the three Anglo-Afghan wars, he would wonder why anyone bothered going back.

Apparently, Biden or one of his people did bother to look into the history of Afghanistan and started wondering why anyone would get involved. There are natural resources that would make many people very wealthy, if the resources could be tapped with making another war. And I am sure that there are people in the Red Chinese government who are trying to think of ways to get those resources, but it will be difficult. Someday, it might be nice to be involved there, but Biden made the right decision. The U.S.A. has nothing to gain there and we don't want to throw away any more lives there.

I strongly encourage anyone who is interested to read about Afghanistan and its long and strange history. It's one of those places that shows that fact truly is stranger than fiction. No one could have dreamed up Afghanistan; there is too much to it. I could go on for hours, and I don't know much about the place.


  1. tonywalt's Avatar
    I will watch the anniversary of on TV 9/11 interspersed with the Fall of Kabul, so pop some popcorn