An excellent article in a recent issue of Soldier of Fortune details the history of outsiders in Afghanistan. In 329 BC, Alexander the Great’s army rolled into Kabul. Ferocious resistance forced Alexander to retreat west to Mesopotamia. By 320 BC, Alexander was dead. In 1839, the British occupied Afghanistan. Afghan mountain tribal groups responded harshly. In 1842, the British retreated to Jalalabad from Kabul. The result-nearly 17,000 British were killed. The prime architect of the British occupation was beheaded, de-limbed, and hung on a hook for display in Kabul. I’ve written often on the disastrous Soviet campaign in Afghanistan of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Once again, Afghan’s autonomous mountain tribal warriors prevailed. A 150,000-strong Soviet army was dealt a humiliating defeat. What’s next, Mr. President? Failing to learn from the lessons of history is perhaps one of the most negligent mistakes any U.S. president can make. Let’s proceed with a strategy that has worked very well in Afghanistan (the use of Special Forces and unmanned drones and advisors) and not venture forth on a course not supported by historical precedent.
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