Saturday, August 28, 2021

Afghanistan, Afghanistan... When Will We Learn?

Photo by Andre Klimke on Unsplash
"Those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it." 

This morning I read an insightful article by William Dalrymple about the West's failure to learn from history when it comes to Afghanistan. That history, for most of us, is a forgotten one. For this reason Mr. Dalrymple seeks to enlighten us by filling in the details of our past relations with this foreign land and its peoples.

The article opens with these words: "Before the events of this month, the First Anglo-Afghan War was arguably the greatest military humiliation ever suffered by the West in the East." In other words, our current debacle is not the first we have experienced in that remote region. 

I should note that this story appeared in The Unherd, a British journal with very pointed insights and in-depth analysis of events. The article is titled Afghanistan always defeats the West.

Britain's first engagement with Afghanistan took place in 1839-42. The retreat from Kabul on January 6, 1842 was its worst defeat in history. An army of 18,500 was entirely wiped out by poorly equipped tribespeople. Purportedly only one man survived.

Despite the outcome of this first misadventure, Britain went for it again 30 years later.

After 9/11 Tony Blair signed up Britain to stand with America and go to war in Afghanistan yet again. Dalrymple writes, "What followed was a textbook case of Aldous Huxley’s adage that the only thing you learn from history is that no one learns from history."

* * * 

As for me, two other stories came to mind when I read this. Preceding World War Two, Italy invaded Ethiopia with modern weaponry and aircraft. By the end of 1941 they were sent packing with their tails between their legs.

And, of course, who can forget the Soviet Union's incursion into Afghanistan in 1979, a 10-year fiasco that contributed to demise of the Soviet Union. Well, it seems like we did forget. If you get a chance, I highly recommend a films titled The Beast. It's the story of a Soviet tank crew that makes a wrong turn and must fight to survive against the relentless villagers who they've just pummeled. 

* * * 

The purpose of this blog post is simply to provide a link to what I consider to be relevant observations regarding the Afghanistan situation. You can read the full story here.

* * * 

Related Links

The Decisive Battle of Dien Bien Phu: How the Viet Minh Stunned the World

What's Going On?

No comments:

Popular Posts