US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The graveyard of empires

By Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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It is the quagmire-clock moving closer to midnight that worries me the most regarding our strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq. I find myself wondering sometimes if anyone in Washington still reads history books, or even Newsweek.

We seem determined to repeat the grossest of imperial errors, overstretching our resources and living beyond our means, madly determined to protect supply lines to an imperial capital that is already collapsing around us.

Here's a little wisdom related to our two-war strategy for subduing the Middle East, and one assumes preserving our oil trade routes, I picked up from Matin Meenagh, a UK historian:

<<Here is a list of all those major powers who have invaded Afghanistan at one time or another. I do not pretend that it is authoritatively exhaustive, but believe that it may be, and if you want to comment further I'd be happy to hear from you.

Alexander the Great
Arab Islam
Mahmud of Ghazni and the Ghaznavids
Genghis Khan
The Turks
The Moghuls
The British Empire
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 1979-1989

Here is a list of those who managed to hold the place without any major massacres, corruption, devastation, or the ultimate collapse of their hold from exhaustion, bankruptcy or foreign invasion so far.


Here is a list of those who ended up being accused of overstrech, brutality, the collapse of self confidence, and folie de grandeur (and that was those of the group not remembered by a species prone to psychosis as monsters).

All of them.

Young men and women (some of whom I know and all of whom I respect) are out there at the moment, and really, given that they are in the middle of a civil war that began after the deposition of Mohammad Daud Khan it is sensible to ask 'why?'.

Have a think about that question. Invading Afghanistan, however strategically important people think the act, has a tendency to lead to horror and exhaustion. It may be that the oil is slipping away, and that the security of the lines of trade and energy upon which we shall desperately spend ourselves in the coming years is worth it; I doubt it. It may be that the West will succeed in its aims. I'm not sure of that either. But what is obvious is that the Afghan War is not won, and whatever the strength of the weltvolksgemeinschaft it won't be>>