October 13, 2009

Afghanistan, 1929-1978

I am tiring of this narrative in the U.S. and international media that says Afghanistan is, has always been and will always be a nation at war with itself and its neighbors. While sitting in the San Francisco airport waiting on the red-eye home yesterday evening, I was reading William Maley's The Afghanistan Warsir?t=abumuqa-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0230213146, which starts with the observation that between 1929 and 1978, Afghanistan actually bucked the trend in the rest of Asia and was at peace until the Marxist coup in 1978. Afghanistan, in fact, managed to remain nuetral during the Second World War when all those civilized Europeans were completing the vicious cycle of violence that began in 1914 and killed a lot more people than the wars in Central Asia since 1978. (Imagine if you drew some sweeping conclusions about the European peoples based solely on observations made between the years 1914 and 1945?) That's worth remembering as pundits fall back on tired cliches about how Afghanistan can never be pacified or how its people somehow desire conflict in a way we allegedly civilized westerners do not.