Forty maps that explain the Middle East. Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper. "Twelve years after the Taliban blew up the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas, a Chinese mining firm -- developing one of the world's largest copper deposits -- threatens to destroy another of Afghanistan's archeological treasures." Campaign to Save Mes Aynak.
American military planners are fascinated with German/Prussian military history. Busts of Von Clauswitz adorn American military academies where On War is taught, often with the misperception that Von Clauswitz viewed war as a controllable science. Shock & Awe is just the idea of Blitzkrieg with better weapons. Endless exhortations about unit cohesion (a complex, multi-layered idea with no military definition that is nonetheless used to keep gay soldiers from openly serving) comes from admiration for the Wehrmacht, their discipline and courage on the battlefield. So too the idea of a military culture separate and more honorable than the civilians they protect, advancing the professional warrior model at the expense of the citizen-soldier model. But to quote author military/adventure author Tom Clancy, “Why do people have a fixation with the German military when they haven’t won a war since 1871?” Previously
Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan. "It is important to know that disorder, terrorism, and violence against schools that educate girls are not inevitable. I want to show Afghanistan's youth of today how their parents and grandparents really lived."
That afternoon, American signals operators picked up bin Laden speaking to his followers. Fury kept a careful log of these communications in his notebook, which he would type up at the end of every day and pass up his chain of command. “The time is now,” bin Laden said. “Arm your women and children against the infidel!” Following several hours of high-intensity bombing, the Al Qaeda leader spoke again. Fury paraphrases: “Our prayers have not been answered. Times are dire. We didn’t receive support from the apostate nations who call themselves our Muslim brothers.” Bin Laden apologized to his men for having involved them in the fight and gave them permission to surrender.
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The sections of britishbattles.com about The First Afghan War have apparently been quoted verbatim in Al-Qaeda propaganda. Site author, amateur historian John Mackenzie, told the press "It's exactly appropriate to use the account of the first Afghan war to point out the pointlessness of the current operations and the dangers that they run of a similar disaster," [more inside]
A few hundred photos of Afghanistan by a Canadian photographer. Some from the 1970s, some since 2000. Just a reminder there's more to the country than a testing ground for military technology and terrorist tactics. Some beautiful images and some scenes of everyday life. Accompanied by the photographer's personal commentary.
The fascinating story of how a lone security guard in Afghanistan managed to ensure the safety of the Bactrian hoard.
Images of Afghanistan, 1976-78. A good range.
Wow. The little Afghani girl whose eyes captivated a nation back in 1985 (when her portrait graced the cover of a National Geographic magazine) has been located (alive!).
"Afghanistan" as seen by Frederick Engels in August 1857. First published in "The New American Cyclopaedia", Vol. I, 1858
"Afghanistan" as seen by Frederick Engels in August 1857. First published in "The New American Cyclopaedia", Vol. I, 1858 ".....Thus ended the attempt of the British to set up a prince of their own making in Afghanistan...." Last sentence of classic piece of writing. Does history always repeat itself, or can nations and their leaders alter destiny by finding lessons in the most dismal failures of their past?
Ahmed Rashid and Idries Shah have been my best sources as I try to get a real appreciation for the mosaic of Pashtun tribesmen, Tajiks, etc., that is Afghanistan. The former's book (link to long excerpt) is chock full of facts about the background and makeup of the Taliban. The latter's is a page-turning 1986 military romance (no Arabs, no CIA mentioned, but the secret KGB phone number given was, famously correct), by an author better known for works on Sufis and the incorrigible humorist Mulla Nasrudin: a painless way to steep yourself in a (romantically idealized but extremely informative) Afghan worldview. So, you other news junkies, what have been your best sources for the deeper cultural background of this patch of rugged mountains with which the U.S. finds itself at war?
Chomsky on MSNBC talks about recent events! That would be news all by itself. I know that a lot of people on the right disagree with him, but who can argue with what he says here? Also from left field an incisive Q&A about Afghanistan history and the current situation by Tariq Ali.
Maps. Recent events have sent me all over bookstores and the web to look at and learn from maps. This is the best, and one of the least known sites. For current events, try the Middle East and Afghanistan sections, but don't miss the incredibel Historical maps collection.
Infinite Justice is out, Enduring Freedom is in. "The change was made after the initial name -- 'Operation Infinite Justice' -- last week ran into objections from some Islamic scholars on grounds that only God, or Allah, could mete out infinite justice in their view."
A survey of the political climate surrounding President Clinton's strike against bin Laden. Warning: ancient history (1998). Was he really "wagging the dog", or did he have a valid objective after all?
The First Anglo-Afghan War has been mentioned a great deal recently but most links to previous Afghan wars seem to point to the Soviet efforts there.