Picking Out A Headstone

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The term
"graveyard of empires" has become the norm when discussing
the War in Afghanistan lately, but few realize how far back this
term really extends. While it is well known the USSR was defeated
there, causing the collapse of their empire, it is not as well
known that the British also failed to conquer Afghanistan — three
separate
times.
Alexander the Great, Mahmud of Ghazni, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane,
the Seljuks, the Hotaki Dynasty, the Moghul Empire, and the Ilkhanate;
all
fell
to the unconquerable people of Afghanistan.

Their rich
culture has been forged in the fires of insurgency, and refined
during the course of 2000 years. The idea of American exceptionalism
demands that we not yield to this study in history — but it will
force our empire to its knees anyway. This would not be all bad,
if you and I were not paying for the blossoming military budget
that is being wasted in the sands of Afghanistan. Listed above
are ten mighty kingdoms, countries, leaders, and empires
that were defeated due to the insistent agitating of Afghanistan's
insurgents. The number of empires who have successfully conquered
Afghanistan and retained control for any lengthy amount of time?
Zero.

Alexander
the Great's empire was undoubtedly the most powerful on the earth
at the time it existed, but it was no match for the tenacious
fighting spirit and rugged terrain of Afghanistan. Genghis Khan
is considered one of the most vicious and successful military
commanders in the history of the world, and commanded a massive
mobile army in 1219. That army, which eviscerated its enemies
in battle after battle all over Asia, was soundly defeated in
Afghanistan. The USSR, one of the two superpowers of the world
at the time, invaded Afghanistan in 1979 with over 100,000
soldiers and 1,800 tanks
, and yet they were utterly confused
by the asymmetrical warfare they faced. Over the course of the
next decade, the USSR would send over 620,000
soldiers to forcibly subdue Afghanistan's insurgents, and failed.

Unfortunately,
that phrase, "the graveyard of empires" is not taken
as seriously as it should be. While "the graveyard"
part gets plenty
of
play
in the media and in D.C., the "empire" part is completely
ignored. Our empire has engaged the insurgency in Afghanistan
and invoked their wrath.

In light
of the historical fact that the Afghanis have an irrepressible
desire for self-determination combined with the fatigueless insurgents
that the harsh landscape seems to cultivate, perhaps the United
States ought not to be attempting to escalate the conflict there.
Learning the lessons of history is not where Americans excel.
Our imperial history reaches back to James Madison's land
grabbing
of the West Florida Republic in 1810, it is as engrained
in our governing structure as the two-party system and corruption
— and exposed or contested less than either of them. By the end
of 2009, estimates are that the War in Afghanistan will have cost
the United States almost $440
billion
, with no end in sight. The Soviet-Afghanistan war
bankrupted the USSR and it will bankrupt America, both financially
and morally. There can be no doubt that the United States, with
Barack Obama at the helm, will continue the foolish War in Afghanistan,
where empires go to die. Let us hope that the death of the empire
will come quickly, but not adversely affect the citizenry at home.
President Obama should get busy picking out our headstone, because
America will shortly join that long list of empires which is laid
to rest in the imperial bone yard. It would only be fitting to
bury our empire next to the old USSR.

May
20, 2009

Trent Hill
[send him mail] is a freelance
writer and college student at Louisiana State University, a blogger
at IndependentPoliticalReport.com.

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