A compilation of views from many people with experience of Afghanistan, this book provides a provoking and thoughtful review of a country that has recently absorbed many British and American lives and considerable volume of assets but is still largely unknown.
NAME: Afghanistan Revealed Beyond the Headlines
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Caroline Richards, Jules Stewart
PUBLISHER: Frontline, Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Afghanistan, Middle East, Asia, people, politics, nationalism, tribalism, drug trade, Islam, terrorism, landscape, war, conflict, culture, geo-political
DESCRIPTION: A compilation of views from many people with experience of Afghanistan, this book provides a provoking and thoughtful review of a country that has recently absorbed many British and American lives and considerable volume of assets but is still largely unknown.
In the book, there are views that seem to suggest conflict in Afghanistan is recent. The reality is that Afghanistan has been a battleground since ancient times. It is a potential route for armies from Asia and Russia, on their way into India. For that reason, the British Empire was forced to consider a presence in the area to protect their Indian interests. The Army of the Indus was sent into Afghanistan, badly led and poorly informed. This resulted in withdrawal and ended with the Massacre of the Khyber Pass where the British troops were comprehensively defeated and most of them killed.
Later, the North West Frontier was a place where young British officers were sent to earn their spurs. It was virtually guaranteed that they could be put into conflict to distinguish themselves and set their Army careers.
In more recent times, the Russians became embroiled in their own version of Vietnam, to be ejected in a humiliating manner. During their intervention, the US was encouraged to support the Afghan rebels against Russia. This provided the support necessary for Bin Laden to form his terror franchise, training his supporters and equipping them with the latest lethal technology to practice against a Russian force that was equipped with the best than was available to them. During this period, the population was subjected to misery, starvation and death by both sides and the Russians were to be replaced by an Islamic fundamentalist regime that was intend on keeping the country in the Middle Ages through casual brutality.
The impatience, that is a characteristic of a modern world suffering a surfeit of information and a deficit of knowledge, with which we rush to offer Afghanistan the ‘benefits’ of European development may continue to prove counter-productive. Attempting to force an alien culture on the population has always encouraged fierce resistance by the Afghans and the recent attempts, however well-intentioned, have experienced the same response. When NATO forces withdraw, Afghanistan is likely to sink back under the control of those who were forced out by the 9/11 driven invasion. How much beneficial change will survive remains to be seen.
The distinguished writers who have been included in this book inevitably present a Western impression of Afghanistan, but they do offer new insights and their collective experience provides a much more grounded view of the country than tends to appear in newspapers and on television.
Understanding Afghanistan is important because it is a potential fulcrum for Asian politics. It is a country in need of peace and stability, but it has long been accustomed to conflict. Making that break with its violent past will be painful.