Afghanistan: the graveyard of empires (and democracies?)

Obama chief


“President Obama said Wednesday that he planned to leave 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan until the end of his term, further slowing the drawdown in a 14-year war that Mr. Obama pledged to end on his watch but now seems likely to grind on indefinitely.” []


Obama’s not leaving Afghanistan.

I think we’ll keep fighting until the last man.

It’s so godforsaken

I wonder what’s takin’

Them so long to act on the opposite plan.



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  • This one doesn't hit me as being that difficult to figure out. Unlike Iraq, where our rationale to intervene was questioned, Afghanistan was clearly harboring the terrorists who caused September 11, and that had to be eradicated. The only question is whether we have left a strong enough government there, or that will become another vacuum where the terrorists take over again (such as ISIS in Iraq). I guess Obama figured that killing Osama in Pakistan and then declaring victory was not sufficient.

  • A few years ago, a guy named Frank Holt published a book. I don't know if it is any good or not, but the title is catching, like yours: "Into the Land of Bones: Alexander the Great in Afghanistan." That land defeated its first foreign empire more than 2,300 years ago and has swallowed them up ever since, most recently being the Russians. Maybe we can leave behind a strong enough government; Alexander and all who followed didn't.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    I remember the gloating at the time that Afghanistan was the equivalent of Russian winters' effect on Napoleon and Hitler in Russia, until the U.S. ended up fighting the same people.

  • In reply to jack:

    "Exceptionalism" has led us to believe that whatever happens to other countries and empires could never happen to us.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    I think it was more that we didn't see any reason for Russia to prop up a commie puppet in Afghanistan, while, as I noted earlier, there was a reason for the U.S. to intervene.

    I think our "exceptionalism" took a kick to the teeth when, instead of taking the advice of "declare victory in Vietnam and leave" (to which I also obliquely alluded above), the U.S. was forced to evacuate.

    We may be exceptional in that we have the best Tomahawk cruise missles, and drones with Hellfire missles. However, what AW seems to be saying is that we don't know what to do with the scene after we use them. France essentially had the same problem after it bombed Libya.

  • In reply to jack:

    Even if there was a justification to intervene in Afghanistan, that does not mean there was a justification to stay. As for American Exceptionalism, it may have taken a kick in Vietnam, but for many that meant only that it was even more important to assert it in the Middle East.

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