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Why We Can't Win

When it comes to waging war on Afghanistan, we might as well turn around and go home. The British occupied that country from 1839 to 1842, and ended up going home with their tails between their legs, and it looks like we will too.

In the August 16th issue of the New York Review of Books, Rory Stewart writes: "The British 'Army of the Indus' swaggered into Kabul from India in 1839 (with) the general's personal baggage loaded onto 260 camels." Besides soldiers in scarlet cloaks, he brought along a pack of hounds, in case he wanted to hunt foxes. The Afghans "were soon watching ice skating and giving advice to British women on their geraniums."

The British invaded to replace the Afghan king, because they thought he was becoming too close to the Russians, and that Afghanistan could be used by Russia to threaten British India. In November of 1841, British political official Sir Alexander Burnes "congratulated his superior, Sir William Hay Macnaghten, on the perfect tranquility of the country. A day later, Burnes was hacked down in the flames of his burning mansion. "On December 23rd, "Macnaghten’s mutilated corpse was hung from a butcher's hook in the bazaar; and on January 6 the British army began its retreat."

15,000 soldiers marched through the snow to the British garrison at Jalalabad. "Some died of exposure, others were taken hostage or escaped, but most were killed. Five thousand men, women, and children died (on the retreat)." Only ONE MAN survived: "On January 13, sentries looking for the Army of the Indus saw a single wounded man moving across the plain. Dr. William Brydon was what remained of the Army of the Indus." "

In 1879, having 'learned the lessons' from the first Afghan war, the next British envoy insisted on taking up residence in the royal castle (where) he was killed almost immediately." Why did the Brits invade Afghanistan? They "perceived (it) as an unstable, fragmented state" (sound familiar?). "Beyond Afghanistan, they saw an expanding Russia as a mortal threat to British India, which could only be contained by creating a buffer of pro-British rulers in Afghanistan and the Punjab." (STILL sound familiar?) "The theories were senseless. The policymakers completely underestimated the practical problems of occupying Afghanistan."

The truth is, we don't know why we're there either.

We have war in Dreamland too (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show), but we PREFER to show our subscribers LOVE, which is why they have a coupon to get a beautiful hardcover copy of Whitley Strieber's novel Hybrids for LESS than $5--WHILE SUPPLIES LAST.



A major reason the USSR is called Russia in the 2012 London Olympics today was their ill-advised invasion of Afghanistan in 1980. That misadventure also led to then-President Jimmy Carter boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

The Graveyard of Empires, indeed!

why is it that some dusty mountains and stubborn goat herders are such a problem? Use the Vietnam tactic, forget the land, count the bodies.

As memory serves, we LOST Vietnam, suffering our first humiliating defeat, dragging the last desperate allies off the roof of the American Embassy two steps ahead of the NVA and the Viet Cong.

Underestimating tough third world countries has proven to be a sure indication of world empires in decline.

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