Afghanistan is not worth it

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Harry C. Alford and Kay DeBow

Beyond the Rhetoric

By Harry C. Alford & Kay DeBow

Our latest trist 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 in a continuous state of war, havoc and mass confusion. Confusion is the key word here. There is no one religion that rules, no conquering nation that remains, no major tribe or race of people. It is just there and will continue to be one ongoing mass of confusion and change of temporary leadership.

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 disaster:

“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.”

That was when Britain maintained one of the finest military operations in world history. They could not handle Afghanistan. Let’s go back further than that.

All the way to Alexander the Great and his great Greek Empire. It was here where he met the beginning of his demise. This is how Wikipedia explains it:

“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 the 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.

This Greek Kingdom called Bactria carried on Greek culture while completely cut off from Europe for three centuries. One of the cities, Ai-Khanoum was excavated in the 1970s, showing a complete Greek city with an acropolis, amphitheater, temples, and numerous statues.

Greeks of Bactria transmitted the art of sculpting human likeness to India and the Far East. Bactrian King Menander I converted to Buddhism after staging multiple theological and philosophical debates between his Greek priests and Indian Buddhist monks. Menander I is  remembered in Buddhist Sutras as “King Melinda of the Yunani.”

The Ionian origin of the Greek veterans who settled Bactria is remembered to this day by the Afghan word for Greeks, which is “Ionian.” Bactrian Greeks left a legacy of coinage, architecture, and Buddhist art, which comprised the Gandara culture, especially all East Asia to this day.

The last Greek Kingdom in Afgha- nistan was conquered by the Kushan invaders in the first century AD, a full three centuries after Alexander. But Greek language continued to be used by the Kushans in their coinage for the next several centuries.”

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.

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 Socialists 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 and controlled by no one party or government. A big variable in all of this is the Taliban tribe. The Taliban are roaming nomads and answer to no one. They have no set geography which they live in, and no other government it will cooperate with. It is 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.

Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®.  Ms. DeBow is the Co-Founder, Executive Vice President of the Chamber. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Emails: halford@nationalbcc.org, kdebow@nationalbcc.org.

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