Afghanistan in Perspective

John F. Burns is an outstanding reporter but his article in the New York Times, on rising opposition to the Afghanistan war in Britain, makes me question how much he or other Britons know about their own history. He writes:

Partly because of Britain’s 19th-century history of catastrophic military ventures in Afghanistan, when it sought to secure the outer defenses of British imperial rule in India, the government faces an uphill task in rallying public opinion to the current conflict.

I realize this fits in with the popular myth about Afghanistan being the “graveyard of empires,” but the historical record doesn’t live up to the hype. Britain had precisely one “catastrophic military venture” in Afghanistan. That was the invasion of Afghanistan  in 1938, which culminated in the massacre of the British column on the retreat from Kabul in January 1842. More than 15,000 people — mostly camp followers and Indian sepoys, but also including some 700 Europeans — were wiped out by Afghan raiders and the bitter cold. But that was hardly the end of the story. An Army of Retribution soon came marching through the Khyber Pass. British soldiers briefly occupied Kabul and destroyed its Great Bazaar along with much else as an act of vengeance.

0
Shares
Google+ Print

Afghanistan in Perspective

Must-Reads from Magazine

Can Turkey be Trusted with F-35s?

Are the warplane's secrets safe?

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the newest generation air platform for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marines. Lockheed-Martin, which builds the F-35, describes it as “a 5th Generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment.” For both diplomatic reasons and to encourage sales, Lockheed-Martin subcontracted the production of many F-35 components to factories abroad. Many program partners—Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Denmark, for example—are consistent U.S. allies.

18
Shares
Google+ Print

The Trump Right’s Martyrdom of Kim Guadagno

Too many martyrs make a movement.

If the GOP is to be converted into a vehicle for politicians who evince Donald Trump’s brand of pragmatic center-right populism, Trump will have to demonstrate his brand of politics can deliver victories for people other than himself. Presidential pen strokes help to achieve that, as do judicial appointments. Nothing is so permanent, though, as sweeping legislative change. On that score, the newly Trumpian Republican Party is coming up short. If the passive process of transformational legislative success fails to compel anti-Trump holdouts in the GOP to give up the ghost, there is always arm-twisting. It seems the Republican National Committee is happy to play enforcer.

9
Shares
Google+ Print

The Conservative Crack-Up, 2017 Edition

Podcast: Conservatism in shackles while O.J. goes free?

On the second of this week’s podcasts, I ask Abe Greenwald and Noah Rothman whether the health-care debacle this week is simply a reflection of the same pressures on the conservative coalition Donald Trump saw and conquered by running for president last year—and what it will mean for him and them that he has provided no rallying point for Republican politicians. And then we discuss OJ Simpson. Give a listen.

2
Shares
Google+ Print

Macron’s Terrorism Idiocy

Hyperbole yields cynicism, not the other way around.

Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron surprised almost everyone when he invited President Donald Trump to celebrate Bastille Day with him in Paris, especially after the two leaders’ awkward first meeting in Brussels in May. After all, between now and then, Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and Macron has become perhaps the most vocal critic of Trump among European leaders.

12
Shares
Google+ Print

Trump Quietly Gives Putin What He Wants

Quid pro quo?

Until now, the notion that Donald Trump was providing Russia and Vladimir Putin with concessions at the expense of U.S. interests was poorly supported. That all changed on Wednesday afternoon when the Washington Post revealed that Donald Trump ordered his national security advisor and CIA director to scrap a program that provided covert aid to anti-Assad rebels in Syria.

30
Shares
Google+ Print