Afghanistan not worth it

Our latest tryst in Afghanistan has lasted over 19 years.  It is long overdue for us to face one solid fact: No one conquers and rules Afghanistan.

This area of the world is a continuous state of war, havoc and mass confusion. There is no one religion that rules, no conquering nation that remains, no major tribe or race of people.

British defeated

Britain maintained one of the greatest empires the world has known.  However, its attempt to rule what is now Afghanistan was a disaster. Here is how Wikipedia explains: 

“The First Anglo-Afghan War (also known by the British as the Disaster in Afghanistan) was fought between the British East India Company and the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1839 to 1842. Initially, the British successfully intervened in a succession dispute between emir Dost Mohammad (Barakzai) and former emir Shah Shoah (Duran), whom they installed upon conquering Kabul in August 1839. 

The main British Indian and Sikh force occupying Kabul along with their camp followers, having endured harsh winters as well, was almost annihilated while retreating in January 1842. The British then sent an Army of Retribution to Kabul to avenge their defeat, and having demolished parts of the capital and recovered prisoners they left Afghanistan altogether by the end of the year. 

Dost Mohamed returned from exile in India to resume his rule. It was one of the first major conflicts during the Great Game, the 19th-century competition for power and influence in Central Asia between Britain and Russia.”

Greeks defeated 

That was when Britain maintained one of the finest military operations in world history.  They could not handle Afghanistan. Let’s go back further to Alexander the Great and his Greek empire. From Wikipedia:

“Alexander the Great invaded what is today Afghanistan in 330 BC as part of war against Persia. Comprising the easternmost satrapies of Persia, Afghanistan provided some challenging battles in his conquest of the remaining lands of Persia. Renamed Bactria, and settled with his Ionian veterans, Alexander began his invasion of India from what is now Jalalabad, attacking the Indus River basin through the Khyber Pass. Several cities in Afghanistan are named for Alexander, including Alexandria Arachises, now called Kandahar (a contraction of Kandahar). 

“Following the death of Alexander and the partition of his kingdom, the Province of Bactria was under the rule of Alexander’s former general, Seleucids, who now formed the Seleucid Dynasty, with its capital in Babylon. But the Greek Soldiers in Bactria, based on the remoteness of their territory, declared independence, defeated Seleucid armies sent to reconquer them, and founded the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, which lasted for more than three centuries in Afghanistan, and western India.

Even one of the greatest generals of all time, Genghis Khan, could not put Afghanistan into his “quiver” of victories.  When he led his fierce army of Mongols from Manchuria to the gates of Europe, he found one “hiccup” he could not overcome. He selected to bypass what is now Afghanistan and continue with his conquest. 

Russia defeated 

So, it was with great surprise that the Soviet Union, a “Johnny come lately” in terms of aspiring empires, decided to invade Afghanistan in 1980.  One of the most feared nations on earth came to its knees and eventually retreated. That was the beginning of the end for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  It was just another one that bit the dust trying to do what many empires before had failed to do. 

Afghanistan should be considered a continuous, changing state in a free-for-all controlled by no one party or government. A big variable in all of this is the Taliban tribe.  They are roaming nomads and answer to no one. They have no set geography which they live in and no other government they will cooperate with. They are a strong warring group which answers to no other power on earth. 

It is silly for us to think that we can sue for peace or even demand it in this strange quarter of the world.  Let us pull out. After 19 years, we should know by now. If not, let’s review the last couple of thousands of years to come up with one conclusion: Afghanistan is a no-win game. 

Bring our troops home. It is not worth it.


Harry C. Alford is the co-founder and president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC). Kay DeBow is the NBCC co-founder. Contact them via www.nationalbcc.org.

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