Afghanistan: The Road to Civilization

It is often said that “history repeats itself.” The recent history of Afghanistan confirms that view.  The scheduled withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan in 2014 recalls the withdrawal of Soviet military forces from that country in 1989.  The United States in 2001, like the Soviet Union in 1979, dispatched her Armed Forces to Afghanistan to defeat Islamic extremists.  The United States, like the Soviets before, then became engaged in a decade-long war against Islamic extremists, often fighting the same enemy—the Haqqani Network, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Pashtun tribesmen.  Now the United States, like the Soviets two decades earlier, is withdrawing forces from Afghanistan without having defeated the Islamic extremists militarily or politically.

But what of Afghanistan?  Both a pawn and a prize in the power politics of the Cold War and the post-Cold War world, she has been reduced to a wasteland inhabited by a traumatized population.  Lost is the remarkable history of this remarkable land.

Afghanistan has had a profound impact on world civilization disproportionate to the size of the country or her population.  And that history needs to be told.  Afghanistan has been central to the development and dissemination of three civilizations—Hellenistic, Buddhist, and Islamic.  Her influence still resonates with the...

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