"In the time of Amanullah Khan, the girls were flirts…"

April 11th, 2010

Adam Curtis on history repeating itself in Afghanistan:

There is a growing sense in the West that we no longer know what we are fighting for in Afghanistan. The question that is almost never asked is what they are fighting for? What do the Taliban want?

We are told that we are fighting to prevent terrorist attacks in Europe and America. But the reality is that the Taliban have no interest in attacking the West. In the public imagination and in much journalism the Taliban are seen as exactly the same as political Islamists such as bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri. The truth is that they are the very opposite of each other. […]

The truth is that we may be fighting an enemy in Helmand – and soon in Kandahar too – that also no longer knows what it is fighting for. Both sides are locked together in a nihilistic war.

But the fascinating thing is that we, the British, have been through all this before in Afghanistan.

In 1919 there was a grand attempt to create a modern Islamist state in Afghanistan. But it collapsed into civil war and horror and led to the resurgence of old Islam coupled with the most traditional and reactionary forces in the country. And the Royal Air Force and British army was left fighting a futile, pointless war in the mountains of Waziristan. […]

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Visualising empires

November 27th, 2009

Visualizing empires decline would be much improved if it included data for the preceding couple of centuries, so as to show the growth phase of each empire. It's still worth a look, even so.

[Via Anil Dash]

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