Afghanistan : what everyone needs to know

2020, Book , 352 pages.
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Summary/Review: "Through much of the twentieth century Afghanistan seemed to be a distant concern in the U.S. "Afghanistanism" used to be journalistic shorthand for s more...
Summary/Review: "Through much of the twentieth century Afghanistan seemed to be a distant concern in the U.S. "Afghanistanism" used to be journalistic shorthand for stories about distant places that editors dismissed as irrelevant. Afghanistan's territory does include some remote, barely accessible regions, but it also includes ancient metropolises such as Balkh, Herat, Kabul, and Kandahar that through much of history were crossroads for commerce and the spread of ideas, including religions and artistic styles. Afghanistan's period of isolation was not an inevitable consequence of its location; it was the result of the policies of the British and Russian colonial empires. In the late 19th and 20th century, those empires agreed to make Afghanistan a buffer state separating their two empires. The only foreign representative would be a Muslim representative of British India, which controlled Afghanistan's foreign affairs. That arrangement has broken down so thoroughly, that Afghanistan is now the opposite of a buffer state. Instead of preventing conflict by separating empires or states, it has become an arena where others act out proxy conflicts. The Soviet invasion of December 1979 turned the country into the hottest conflict of a supposedly Cold War. The Afghan state collapsed in the 1990s as a result of that proxy war and the breakup of the USSR, which had been funding the state. The country then became the arena of conflict among regional powers - Pakistan versus Iran, Russia, and India - but also a zone of competition over pipeline routes among the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Iran."--
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