The Dust of Empire: Imperial involvement in modern day Afghanistan – Imperial Hubris, Imperial Amnesia, Imperial Folly, or just plain stupid?

(The statement “the dust of Empire” comes from an exerpt of Charles de Gaulle)

(It is also the title of an interesting book I have just recently began reading, “The Dust of Empire: The Race for Mastery in the Asian Heartland”, by Karl E. Meyer. I felt the title would make for a great “artsy” title slug to the opening blog submission.)

Why have so many empires fought through and for control over one of the least desirable plots of land on Earth?

Perhaps at one time or two in the distant past this area, and its control, held sway over the wealthiest trade route(s) of the world. Up until the last century, merely holding the actual landmass could actually tempt some empires (Russia, then the USSR) to dream of expanding to other nearby lands of greater value and wealth access. But with the advent of modern sea transportation capabilities, and then later air transportation, involvement in this country for any trade or commerce reason(s) should have been erased. Commercial (or other ventures) access for the “West” to the riches of the “East” would seem to be handled now with a more safe, consistent, and wholly corporate method unhindered by land-based peculiarities surrounding the Hindu Kush (mountians).

So far the imperial “boneyard” affected by this particular country (Afghanistan) includes: the Persian, Mede-Persian, the Macedonian/Greek (Alexander the Great), the Mongol, the British, the French, and the Russian/Soviets. Currently, and arguably, the wealthest, strongest, and most powerful empire, the United States of America, is said to be its next “victim”. Only time will tell whether this will hold true.

Obviously, the “Pashtun” question is, and has been, a central factor in determining the outcome of all other issues regarding the disposition of life and government for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (Some might argue that long ago, imperial invovlement in this region should have allowed, encouraged, or implaced a dominate “Pashtoonistan”, then settled the other ancillary “balkanized” substrata populations into weaker nation-states). Arguably the largest “national identity” in this country and region lay within the confines of Pashtun separatism. All other sub-groupings of population have greater ethnic identity and allegience to other external populations than to any polyglot, multi-ethnic, mishmash national identity model we’re trying to forge there now.

Well, these few starting points should do well to kick off any discussion(s) for now. I will close this initial posting here and let all of you out there discover the site and start chatting. I wish to extend my thanks in advance for all fellow bloggers that may visit and comment. I invite one and all to peruse over the blog at your leisure. Please consider commenting a time or two, you are most welcome to contribute your proverbial “two cents worth”.