Afghanistan

Khwarezmid Empire (1190–1220)

Image via Wikipedia

We’ve been in Afghanistan for ten years now. Have we accomplished anything? Looks to me like the same old story. And I mean the same really old story.

According to history, Afghanistan was first invaded by Alexander the Great and his Macedonians, the very first disciplined (modern style) army. It took Alexander 3 years to complete the conquest whereas Persia had fallen in 6 months. Incidentally if you have read much of ancient history the Bactrian warriors mentioned at the Battle of Gaugemela were from eastern Afghanistan.

It took from about 642 until well into the 11th Century to complete the conversion/conquest of Afghanistan by Islam. Incidentally the ethnic make up the Afghans like the Persians to the west is primarily Aryan; like Europeans and unlike Arabs who are Semitic. It pays to remember that the Middle east has been a crossroads of humanity as long as there has been humanity.

The Khwarazmian Empire which consisted of modern-day Iran, Afghanistan and neighboring territories was attacked by Genghis Khan. It wasn’t pretty. From Wikipedia “The Mongol invasion of Central Asia however would entail the utter destruction of the Khwarezmid Empire along with the massacre of much of the civilian population of the region. The Mongols systematically exterminated a particularly large portion of the people of the cities, such as Bukhara. This earned the Mongols a reputation for bloodthirsty ferocity that would mark the remainder of their campaigns.”

This was followed by a group of regional wars by empires in the are which went on more or less continuously until:

The First (of 3) Anglo-Afghan wars which grew out of the British East India Company attempting to expand and then defend their empire. These continued until 1919. As usual, Rudyard Kipling had some advice for Tommy Atkins.

The Young British Soldier

 When the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
 'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
 An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
 Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.
       Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
       Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
       Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
          So-oldier _of_ the Queen!

 Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day,
 You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
 An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
 A soldier what's fit for a soldier.
       Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

 First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
 For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts --
 Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts --
 An' it's bad for the young British soldier.
       Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

 When the cholera comes -- as it will past a doubt --
 Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
 For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
 A' it crumples the young British soldier.
       Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

 But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
 You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
 If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
 An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.
       Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

 If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
 Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
 Be handy and civil, and then you will find
 That it's beer for the young British soldier.
       Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

 Now, if you must marry, take care she is old --
 A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
 For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
 Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.
       'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . .

 If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
 To shoot when you catch 'em -- you'll swing, on my oath! --
 Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er:  that's Hell for them both,
 An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.
       Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

 When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
 Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
 Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
 And march to your front like a soldier.
       Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

 When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
 Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
 She's human as you are -- you treat her as sich,
 An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.
       Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

 When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
 The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
 Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
 For noise never startles the soldier.
       Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

 If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
 Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
 So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
 And wait for supports like a soldier.
       Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . . 

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
 And the women come out to cut up what remains,
 Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
 An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
       Go, go, go like a soldier,
       Go, go, go like a soldier,
       Go, go, go like a soldier,
          So-oldier _of_ the Queen!

From this point on we all know the broad outlines.

The Soviet Union got sucked in to support their (more or less) puppet regime in Kabul in 1979. Note that they were very reluctant and stalled for a considerable time, and that the United States under Carter had something to do with it also. They stuck with it until 1989, and apparently ended up pretty much agreeing with Kipling. After they withdrew the Taliban staged a coup taking power.

They remained in power until late 2001 when having hosted al-Qaeda and refusing to extradite bin Laden they were overthrown by US forces cooperating with the Northern Alliance, a loose grouping of warlords. And so now the US is conducting ground operations and so-called nation building in Afghanistan. I don’t really see why we expected our troops to be a lot more welcome than anybody else’s have been over the millennia, and they weren’t.

And so now here we are, ten years into a nation building mission that may never end while the locals snipe and set off IEDs at us, and our Presidents apologizes for burning a few books used as message pads. He also feels the needs to telegraph that we will be leaving in 2013, telling our enemies that they merely need to lie low and wait.

Given the givens and the history of the area, I see no particular reason to wait any longer than it takes to get transport in and get our people out.

There no glory to be won and no particular shame in not winning in this theatre, nobody else has done any better than we have and most far worse. The only one that has done as well is Genghis Khan and our equivalent to his method would to be nuke the entire country. I don’t think we really have the stomach for that, do we

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

16 Responses to Afghanistan

  1. Freedom, by the way says:

    Well done, Nebraska. And the poem is a nice touch. I like the way you wrap it up, especially, “There no glory to be won and no particular shame in not winning in this theatre, nobody else has done any better than we have and most far worse.”
    I think like you, it’s past time to leave and this post makes me feel better about that.

    Like

  2. Freedom, by the way says:

    Reblogged this on freedombytheway and commented:
    We went in with a goal which we perhaps accomplished in part. But as Nebraska sums up this must-read post: “There no glory to be won and no particular shame in not winning in this theatre, nobody else has done any better than we have and most far worse”. Time to bring the troops home. And let’s use a bit more caution (and hey, even the constitution) by actually having congress Declare War before we get entangled.

    Like

  3. Thanks, Freedom.

    Supporting the troops is one thing but, supporting a war without any semblance of an exit strategy is just plain dumb. There is no sense in losing people on that rockpile any more. We can influence (violently, if need be) without being on the ground.

    Like

  4. Great history lesson. Thanks for this. It’s amazing how easily people forget the important lessons of the past.

    Like

  5. loopyloo305 says:

    Reblogged this on My Blog.

    Like

  6. boudicabpi says:

    Reblogged this on Boudica BPI Weblog and commented:
    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    So-oldier _of_ the Queen!

    Like

  7. From the beginning of our involvement in Afghanistan, our mission there has been a failure. We should have known so from the lessons of history.

    Great post!

    Like

    • I would say that the overthrow of the Taliban and the suppression of al-Qaeda was appropriate, and should have been more, ah, vigorous. Beyond that it is all mission creep, and a losers strategy.

      Like

  8. Pingback: Afghanistan Part II « nebraskaenergyobserver

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