Came across this very informative piece, and it IS a must read:
USA and USMC Counterinsurgency Center Blog
DEBUNKING THE AFGHAN BOGEY MAN
President Obama is on the verge of making a policy decision on the future strategy of the COIN fight in Afghanistan. Before looking at a possible strategy, I think we should take a hard look at Afghanistan and sacrifice a sacred cow that we all took as gospel.
Afghanistan has been called the “graveyard of empires.” That is some impressive IO phrase. It makes us fear failure in Afghanistan because it foreshadows the collapse of the whole western world -- not just Afghanistan. As scary as that prospect is, this specter is a figment of our imagination.
I think what is never mentioned is that the greatest empire that went to grave was the Afghan Empire itself. The British themselves smashed the Afghan Empire when, in 1837, it formed an alliance with the Sikhs in order to prevent the Afghans from retaking its former empire which went to Peshawar and Quetta. Thanks to the British, the sun would permanently set on the Afghan Empire, never to rise again.
Yes it is true that the British did have some setbacks in Afghanistan, but I think we need to examine the motives of the British with regards to Afghanistan. Afghanistan was in fact, nothing more than a buffer between its “jewel” India and the Russian Empire. It never intended to colonize or control Afghanistan. Dividing the Pashtuns along an artificial border represented a classic strategy to ensure that not only would the Afghan empire remain smashed but would also facilitate a cross border insurgency to prevent a Russian expansion south of the Hindu Kush. It worked superbly in the 1980’s.
The Afghans celebrate 1919 as its Independence Day, but it is independence from what? There were no British troops on Afghan soil in 1919. The real story is that Aminullah thought that he could take advantage of unrest in India and British post-war fatigue to retake the former Afghan territory in what is now Pakistan. He launched a three pronged attack into British territory through Khyber, Quetta and Kurrum. His attack was stopped dead by the British. What’s more, Kabul and Jalalabad were bombed by no less than Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, future commander of the RAF’s Bomber Command in WW II. The Afghans quickly sued for peace. The British, being practical, realized that with Russia in turmoil as a result of the Bolshevik Revolution it was no longer a threat. Therefore, interference in Afghanistan was no longer worth the effort. So with the treaty of Rawalpindi, Afghanistan was given control over its foreign affairs. The British also stopped supporting the Afghan Government financially. In this instance, Afghanistan does not seem to have broken another invading empire, but merely lost its usefulness because of a change in the geostrategic situation. ...
Take the time to read the whole thing here. Then think about what you have read.
H/T The Thunder Run