"Afghanistan" as seen by Frederick Engels in August 1857. First published in "The New American Cyclopaedia", Vol. I, 1858
October 28, 2001 11:24 AM   Subscribe

"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?
posted by Voyageman (7 comments total)
This who have not heeded George Santayana's cliché are condemned to repeat history.
posted by mmarcos at 12:42 PM on October 28, 2001

The lesson of the First Afghan War (unless you're playing at Marxist Dialectic) is surely that it's not sufficient for the International Commun ity ™ to simply intrude a government in somewhere, still less to play proxy wars and stand-offishly lob a few missiles...
posted by n/a at 12:49 PM on October 28, 2001

(This=Those) < (Of course)
posted by mmarcos at 2:19 PM on October 28, 2001

I didn't see the part in here about the terrorist camps that the British were in there to destroy, just something about a failed occupation and a foreign puppet prince. I wonder what that has to do with anything?

Now, for a time, the Afghan tribal chiefs were amenable to whatever puppet government, as long as they were paid properly. It was a shortfall in the bribery budget that was the downfall here. The worst of it was the extraction, and as Engels indicates, the fact that agreements with one clan don't constitute agreement with another. (In a very basic way, this is our problem today, with terrorist killers coming from countries we believe to be allies.) But the British had to march out, along with their hangers-on, and they didn't have air power even as defense. Although the Afghans of today have greater mobility and some artillery, in large part they haven't changed much from the days of the rifleman.

The aims of the British here, and the Russians a century and a half later, are not our aims.

Delenda est al-Qaeda.
posted by dhartung at 6:12 PM on October 28, 2001

Oddly enough the Soviets, not heeding Engels' advice (!), tried to do the same thing in '79 with the Najibullah government, with predictable results.

Rather odd, a communist government ignoring a lesson taught by the co-author of the Communist manifesto :-)

In the present case the deposed King is considered as a possible head of state only because he is the one person with even a minor chance of arranging a truce between the anti-Taleban forces, and he WAS in fact King (even though that was 30 years ago), so we're not really looking at the same situation.
posted by clevershark at 7:14 PM on October 28, 2001

So as not to post another main post...

History always repeats...

"Here is a list of the countries that America has been at war with—and bombed—since World War II: China (1945-46, 1950-53); Korea (1950-53); Guatemala (1954, 1967-69); Indonesia (1958); Cuba (1959-60); the Belgian Congo (1964); Peru (1965); Laos (1964-73); Vietnam (1961-73); Cambodia (1969-70); Grenada (1983); Libya (1986); El Salvador (1980s); Nicaragua (1980s); Panama (1989), Iraq (1991-99), Bosnia (1995), Sudan (1998); Yugoslavia (1999).And now Afghanistan."

[via WNY]
posted by Neale at 10:02 PM on October 28, 2001

clever, the King is only being suggested as a broker, not as a future head of state. Someone like the recently-executed Haq might have been a good candidate for that job.

Neale: just for good measure ...

"Bin Laden has been implicated in a string of deadly attacks on the United States and its allies: the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; the 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 200; and the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. Bin Laden also claims responsibility for a 1993 gunfight that killed 18 U.S. troops in Somalia and the 1996 bombing of the Khobar military complex in Saudi Arabia that left 19 U.S. soldiers dead."

Then there's that thing with the hole in New York with 3000 bodies in it.

Additionally, it appears that he and his network have financed or aided the Millennium bombings plot against US targets for 1/1/2000, a subsequent NYC plot to blow up bridges, tunnels, and federal buildings, an Algerian plane hijacking to be crashed into the Eiffel Tower, a plot to blow up a truck bomb at the US Embassy in Paris, a plot to hit several world leaders at once with an artillery piece at the Genoa WTO meeting, a plot to hijack and detonate over the Pacific a dozen or more planes with US destinations or departures simultaneously, and looser connections with the assassins of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the men who machine-gunned tourists at an Egyptian historic site, a plot to hit American and royal targets in Jordan, numerous deadly subway bombings in Paris, the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers in the Phillippines who beheaded an American. I'm quite sure there's more, but that's all I remember at the moment. Do we need more? I suppose if we do need more, we can always wait. I'm sure we will be amply provided given this résumé.
posted by dhartung at 12:11 AM on October 29, 2001

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