Afghanistan’s never-ending challenge

H.D.S. Greenway. Boston Globe, 16 December 2009.


The enemy, then as now, always rallied to the reliable call of “jihad’’ against the infidel invaders no matter who they were. Of all the tribes, those of the Pashtuns were the most feared.

The motives for fighting in Afghanistan were fear, prestige, and retribution. The British feared Russian expansion, and always sought to put their man on the throne to do Britain’s bidding. Retribution always followed military setbacks, and national prestige was used as the reason to fight on. British control over Afghanistan was thought necessary for the defense of India.

Russia followed the same scenario, fearing that if Afghanistan’s pro-Communist government should fail, it would endanger Russia’s Muslim regions.

The United States invaded Afghanistan out of fear of Al Qaeda, and retribution for 9/11. And today you often hear the national prestige argument that we cannot let the Holy Warriors believe they can defeat a second superpower. More and more, America’s Afghan policy is tied into protecting the stability of Pakistan, once part of British India.

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