On October 1st, 1842 Lord Edward Law Ellenborough (1790-1871) issued a special proclamation from Simla, four years to the day after Lord Auckland had declared a war on Afghanistan.
The Government of India directed its army to pass the Indus in order to expel from Affghanistan a chief believed to be hostile to British interest, and to replace upon his throne a Sovereign represented to be friendly to those interests, and popular with his former subjects.
In 1838, Lord Auckland had decided that a regime change was needed in Kabul - Dost Muhammad was to be replaced by the friendlier Shah Shuja. The British had kept 10,000 or more troops in Kabul to secure the new ruler. However, the uprising of 1841 in Kabul resulted in the mass killing of British troops and their families ending the first Anglo-Afghan War in infamy.
Ellenborough's forces had gone to avenge that defeat. Ghazni, Jalalabad and Kabul were scorched to the ground. Having done that, Lord Ellenborough saw no reason for the British to continue to stay around what precious little was left to stay around for:
The Governor-general will leave it to the Affghans themselves to create a government amidst the anarchy which is the consequence of their crimes.
The anarchy which is the consequence of their crimes, indeed. It should be noted that he was installing the very tribes to power whose crimes he had come to avenge. Be that as it may, in his estimation, the mountains of northwest and the rivers of Punjab and Indus would be both a barrier to the "barbarous tribes of Affghanistan" and a "limit nature appears to have assigned to [British] empire".
But, only a few months later, in February 1843, Ellenborough endorsed the extension of the Company's natural empire over the princely state of Sindh - a crucial frontier region bordering Punjab, Afghanistan and Persia - based largely on the fears that the Mirs of Talpur were colluding with the Shah of Afghanistan against the British. This was followed by the Anglo-Sikh wars of 1845 and the annexation of Punjab. This left only the princely states of Kalat and Swat between the Afghanistan and the British.
Any and all resemblance to current events is pretty intentional.
not to be a leech-like lurker, but I humbly make a request for CM approved references to books/articles on the subject, whenever possible.
the mountains of northwest and the rivers of Punjab and Indus would be both a barrier to the “barbarous tribes of Affghanistan” and a “limit nature appears to have assigned to [British] empire”. amen
Sepoy, Historians may have a long view of things, but be wary of falling into the trap of satisfying the "lets bash America" meme (well justified in many cases) while forgetting what limb of the tree your friends are sitting on back home (on the other hand, what I am about to say will offend all your academic friends, so I guess your choices are not easy either). An American withdrawal from Afghanistan will not be the end of the world from an American perspective (in fact, from a purely American perspective one can make a good case that America is wasting men, money and reputation in an enterprise whose main beneficiaries are regional powers like Iran, India, China and Russia). America carried on well enough after a much bigger and more humiliating defeat in Vietnam. But the loss will fry the ass of the new middle class in Afghanistan and Pakistan, who will then blame the Americans for coming in, blame the Americans for leaving, blame the Americans for the militants atrocities and finally, blame the Americans for their own demise. If you are one of those whom the ISI has managed to convince that the good taliban (aka "ISI-Friendly taliban") should be allowed a share in Kabul in order to get a reasonable result, then I dont agree with you there either. The taliban will not follow that script. If the US abandons the current corrupt and incompetent Afghan govt and gets out (as they must once they make that first decision) the ISI will NOT be able to deliver on their promise of "well behaved good taliban". The entertainments in Kabul stadium will be extremely gory.... The time to negotiate with "moderate taliban" will be after they are no longer confident of victory. That time has not yet come. The current Afghan regime is the only game in town. Either make it work or get as far away from that area as possible. If the US pulls out, who do you think can stop the taliban then? India? Russia? China? Iran? Saudi Arabia?(they will all want to try, but they are not exactly set to cooperate and coordinate their efforts; there must be a Chinese lobby who are happy to see the jihadis bleed India, an Iranian lobby that is happy to see the jihadis bleed the USA, a Saudi lobby who think the suicidal virgin-hunters are the best weapon they have ever had and so on). This would be a long and ugly fight in the best of hands, but if GHQ is still more focused on stopping civilian oversight in the Kerry-Lugar bill than it is on fighting the terrorists, property values in E-7 and Shadman are going to take a serious hit. Personally, I think (or hope? wishful thinking?) that the tide has finally turned and GHQ is not completely blind to their own interests. The lifestyle of the rich and famous corps commanders will not survive a jihadi victory. And there is no middle ground with the Jihadis. Either they win, or the infidels do.
Thanks Omar. I don't advocate a US pull-out. Neither do I advocate maintaining Karzai's puppet regime. U.S. had a chance to enforce fair elections - in a number of crucial mis-steps they dropped that ball. The repercussions are that there are no viable political alternative to the Afghan "surge". India/China/Iran can continue playing the retiring bride instead of showing up to the table. The military options are simply bleak and bleaker. You are right about the US withdrawal doomsday. On the other hand, the US will never get enough troops to make a pointed difference, the Taliban can always regroup, and there is no civilian alternative to any of this. More particularly, I am not entirely convinced that there is an Afghanistan "state" wherein such political or civilian alternatives can be espoused. Nothing you wrote above will offend any academics I know, so sleep sound.
If the US pulls out, who do you think can stop the taliban then? India? Russia? China? Iran? Saudi Arabia?(they will all want to try, but they are not exactly set to cooperate and coordinate their efforts; I am sure Tom Friedman and Liz Cheney will be proud of people taking this position. "So for all these reasons â€” and so you understand that I will never hesitate to call on American soldiers where necessary to take the field against the enemies of peace, tolerance and liberty â€” I accept this peace prize on behalf of the men and women of the U.S. military: the world's most important peacekeepers.” http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2009/10/13/liz-cheney-and-tom-friedman-agree-give-the-us-military-the-nobel/#
Akbar, What exactly do you find wrong with that sentence? just curious...Are you perhaps aware of some other force ready to do the job that I may have missed?
"Are you perhaps aware of some other force ready to do the job that I may have missed?" What about leaving Afghanistan to Afghanis, for them to decide ,how they want to live their own lives(probably sound naive to interventionists). You bring up the prospect of Kabul stadium but conveniently ignore all the atrocities that have come with the second American intervention(First being against Russians), the slaughter of innocent civilians, bombing of weddings etc etc. The election result is there for all to see. What is the political process there to bail out the current military strategy?Or you think hundred years of war is the only sane strategy?
I see no possibility of the Afghans being left alone by anyone. Its a classic vacuum and everyone around wants it filled with their favorite gas. I am actually not too hopeful of the USA sticking around for a hundred years or even 10 years. I think they will leave in less than 5, unless things go better than anyone expects. What I DO expect is that if the US pulls out before Pakistani Taliban are decisively defeated, then we will be back to Pakistan inserting its proxies in from the East and South and Iran and India supporting their proxies in the Northwest. Only this time, the Northern alliance has become much stronger, so the war will not end too quickly. They could literally fight to the last afghan. Since China has not yet taken over the role of global policeman (and no post-socialist, pan-human world government is in sight), the departure of the current (aging and bumbling) cop is likely to be followed by spectacular chaos. Of course, there is no guarantee that the US would do a good job if they stayed. The following timeline is copied from another website and sure, things could go that way. American imperial interventions are not usually well managed. On the other hand, Afghans who are working with the new ANA are very confident and its possible that this time, the US will surprise you and actually make it work...btw, what is your position on Afghans who do want a US supported regime (they exist, I assure you, I know some of them)? 1955 U.S. backs Ngo Dinh Diem to take control of S. Vietnam, defies U.N. mandate for Vietnamese unfication elections scheduled for 1956. Under U.S. pressure Diem holds highly suspect "elections" in 1959 to validate his presidency. 1963 U.S. determines Ngo Dinh Diem is so corrupt he is intolerable, he is assassinated and replaced with a U.S. backed hunta that installs Nguyen Van Thieu. Who turns out to be much worse than Diem. 1967 U.S. initiates Phoenix Program to "neutralize" Viet Cong shadow government officials in S. Vietnamese villages. Operatives are not too picky about who they pop. Somewhere around 1969 "rogue" Phoenix operatoratives are alledged to have determined that the real problem was the corrupt local S. Vietnamese government officials and start popping them instead. 1973 After 11 years of killing U.S. leaves Vietnam in disgrace and defeat. Many wonder why we ever went their and especially why we stayed so long. Many veterans claim "the politicians lost that war, we were never beaten in battle!" Not all is lost, war was a big boost for careerist miltary types, journalists and defense contractor profits. 2002 U.S. installs Karzi who turns out to be highly corrupt. 2009 Karzi holds highly suspect "elections" to validate his presidency. 20?? Karzi is assassinated and replaced with ??? ??? who turns out to be much worse than Karzi? 20?? U.S. inintiates ???? Program to "neutralize" growing Taliban shadow government officials in Afghan villages? 20?? "rogue" operatives from the ???? program determine the real problem is corrupt Afghan government officials start popping them instead? 20?? After ?? years of killing U.S. leaves Afghaninam in disgrace and defeat. Many wonder why we ever went their and especially why we stayed so long. Many veterans claim "the politicians lost that war, we were never beaten in battle!" Not all is lost, war was a big boost for careerist miltary types, journalists and defense contractor profits. And many bloggers' careers. Yeah, Kabul's gettin' to be a mighty rough town again. Wouldn't be at all surprised if Karzi becomes a martyr for Democracy soon...
"I see no possibility of the Afghans being left alone by anyone. " Well if that is the case, then I will prefer the Italian solution to keep peace. "What the grieving nation did not know was that in the months before the French soldiers arrived in mid-2008, the Italian secret service had been paying tens of thousands of dollars to Taleban commanders and local warlords to keep the area quiet, The Times has learnt. The clandestine payments, whose existence was hidden from the incoming French forces, were disclosed by Western military officials. " http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6875376.ece However if there were an easy solution, then Sepoy and other South Asian Historians would not be dusting the history books right now.
The NYT picked up the same story today: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/16/world/europe/16italy.html?_r=1&ref=world In general, I don't know whether to give in to crude stereotyping ("The Italians?! What else didja expect?!") or to commend them for their pragmatism.
Talking of crude sterotypes and different premiums on different lives, " For those more inclined to numerical evidence, I have been documenting now for six years how the differential value put upon life (and death) is revealed in the compensation paid for wrongful deaths by the U.S. military. When we make the comparisons in purchasing power parity terms, we find the following very clear gradient in the valuation of life possessing a strong color gradient: Slide #3: Table 1. The Monetary Value of Life Paid in Compensation Measured in PPP $'s Victim's nationality in nominal $'s GDP PPP$'s/GDP in PPP US $'s US $'s ratio of Americans 1988* $1'850'000 1.00 $1'850'000 of WTC victims 2002 $ 1'800'000 1.00 $ 1'800'000 of Italians 1998 1'900'000 1.09 $ 2'071'000 of Japanese 2001 $1'440'000 0.70 $1'010'000 of Chinese 1999 $ 150'000 4.58 $ 687'000 of South Koreans 2002 $162'500 1.7 $276'250 of Iranians 1998 $ 132'000'000/290 2.5-3 $ 125,172 of Indians (Bhopal) 1984 $3'200 5.01 $16'032 of Afghans @ lifetime $ 3'300 - $ 5'000 ~4** $13,200-$20,000 earnings*** of Afghans @ US military $2000 ~4 $8'000 of Afghans @ Diyat $25,000 ~ 4 $100,000" Source: Herold, Matrix, op. cit. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15665 and here is "Kilcullen;s long war" "Kilcullen would like to believe that the "accidental guerrilla" syndrome can be avoided by a surgical counterinsurgency combined with Western liberal reform, as opposed to a ham-fisted, knock-down-the-doors combat approach. But he admits that imposing law and order American-style in Afghanistan is a "temporary" form of neocolonialism that will produce violent popular resistance. ......The strategic dilemma is created when this neocolonialism fosters a corrupt regime of warlords, drug lords and landlords, as it has in Kabul. The first priority of Kilcullen's counterinsurgency doctrine is "a political strategy that builds government effectiveness and legitimacy while marginalizing insurgents, winning over their sympathizers, and coopting local allies." Obama's recent surge in Afghanistan, whose purpose was to protect Afghanistan's presidential election process, had the opposite result: sending Americans to fight for an unpopular Kabul machine that committed fraud on a massive scale." http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091102/hayden/2
Akbar; "What about leaving Afghanistan to Afghanis, for them to decide ,how they want to live their own lives(probably sound naive to interventionists)."--The poll numbers still show Afghans support the presence of coalition troops in Afghanistan (it has dropped significantly from the initial 2001 numbers, but still). Again, there are whole swaths of Afghanistan that are peaceful and have no problem with the presence of foreign troops. The opposition thrives only in certain areas and particular networks. Don't generalize from that to the whole of Afghanistan. Also, the temptation to paint the Afghan Taliban with the brush of "freedom fighters" resisting foreign occupation is a bit of a stretch since ISI and the Pakistani Army running affairs (and promoting Pakistan's interest as conceived by the Pakistani Army) is probably no better than CIA and Pentagon. There is little consolation to be derived if the brutality originates from a fellow Muslim.
The poll numbers still show Afghans support the presence of coalition troops in Afghanistan (it has dropped significantly from the initial 2001 numbers, but still). Is it the same poll that give Hamid Karzai 54% ,OOPS, now 47% majority? Again, there are whole swaths of Afghanistan that are peaceful and have no problem with the presence of foreign troops. Is that why Robert Gates, Admiral Mullen and General McCrystal are predicting failure in Afghanistan unless between 40,000 to 60,000 more troops at the cost of $770k per troop per year(while national deficit for this year is 1.4 Trillion dollars)? What would the additional troops in these peaceful area doing? Planting trees to make Afghanistan green? Also, the temptation to paint the Afghan Taliban with the brush of “freedom fighters” resisting foreign occupation is a bit of a stretch since ISI and the Pakistani Army running affairs (and promoting Pakistan's interest as conceived by the Pakistani Army) is probably no better than CIA and Pentagon. There is little consolation to be derived if the brutality originates from a fellow Muslim. I thought with Bush /Chenney being history now, we can go past" you are either with us or with them" mind set. By the way I do not condone Taliban and their brand of Islam, and have no role in their creation except for as a law abiding citizen, pay taxes, some of which might have gone to their creation as Tom Englehardt reviews here. ".....In other words, 30 years after we launched our jihad against the Soviets by arming the Afghans, we are now fighting almost all the people we once armed and arming a whole new crew. All sides in the debate in Washington find this perfectly sensible..... " http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2009/10/18/whos-next/#
Akbar, No, these are actual polls--not election results--that people who actually follow the affairs in Afghanistan are familiar with. Even a cursory look at the distribution of incidents of bombing throughout Afghanistan will bear me out on the nature of these bombings. Either way, I think we are arguing past each other. Engelhardt's point is well taken, but just because "we" armed someone thirty years ago, doesn't necessarily mean "we" can't or shouldn't fight them now, nor is there any necessary contradiction there. Just ask any divorced couple... :)
"No, these are actual polls—not election results—that people who actually follow the affairs in Afghanistan are familiar with." My point is that in a place where you can create a fraudulant election(people actually voting with positive IDs etc), how hard would it be to creat a fradulant poll? And how wise would it be to act on results of such polls? "Even a cursory look at the distribution of incidents of bombing throughout Afghanistan will bear me out on the nature of these bombings." So among the moajor population centres Kabul, Kandhar and Jalalabad are continuos battle zones, recently ther was attempt on life of Ismail Khan in Herat and 100,000 people came out denouncing USA and Karzai govt. In kunduz in north the Germans called airstrikes and liquidated dozens of civillians, I wonder what to make of your assertion. "I think we are arguing past each other" Thats true. The Divorced couple metaphor is very cute except that here billions of dollars are being wasted and hundreds of people , real human beings like you and me are , being blown to pieces.To what end?
Speaking of polls http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/05_02_09afghan_poll_2009.pdf Q26. Do you think the number of U.S. and NATO/ISAF forces in Afghanistan should be increased, decreased or kept at the current level? 2009 % Increased 18 Decreased 44 Kept at current level 29 No opinion 9 Q27. When do you think such forces should withdraw from Afghanistan? 2009 2007 2006 2005 % % % % Leave now 21 14 13 8 within 6-12 months 16 13 10 6 Within 1-2 years 14 18 13 12 Only after security restored 42 42 55 65 Remain permanently 3 7 5 4 No opinion 4 6 3 5 Q33. Do you think the use of air strikes by the U.S. and NATO/ISAF forces is acceptable because it helps defeat the Taliban and other anti-government fighters, or unacceptable because it endangers too many innocent civilians? 2009 % Acceptable 16 Unacceptable 77 No opinion 8 Q34. When civilians are harmed in U.S. and NATO/ISAF air strikes, who do you mainly blame? 2009 % U.S and NATO/ISAF forces for mistaken targeting 41 Anti-government forces for being among civilians 28 Both sides equally 27 No opinion 4
Resignation Letter from US Foreign Service Officer Matthew P. Hoh ".....I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan. I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end. To put simply: I fail to see the value or the worth in continued US casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year old civil war....." "....I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul." http://original.antiwar.com/news/2009/10/27/resignation-letter-from-us-foreign-service-officer-matthew-p-hoh/
Polls conducted in Afghanistan are not reliable or representative of the entire nation, nevertheless most Afghans tolerate the presence of the coalition forces and foreign NGOs because they believe that in the long run Afghans will inherit a secure nation with a functioning economy. If we pull out now or in the near future, Afghanistan will revert to its old ways and the Pashtuns who fancy themselves as the legitimate heirs to the seat of power in Kabul will win out over the Northern Alliance or any other faction. The Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and they consider themselves the defenders of the nation; history buffs know that it was the Pashtun tribes that fought the British and the Russians in the past and they are now fighting the latest Ferangis on their land. Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and Turkomans do not have the stomach or the zeal of the Pashtun tribes and therefore they will capitulate and raise the white flag a lot sooner than we think leaving the Pashtuns in charge once again.