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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral Asia‘Graveyard of Empires’: Geopolitics, War and the Tragedy of Afghanistan

‘Graveyard of Empires’: Geopolitics, War and the Tragedy of Afghanistan

Author: James Fergusson & R. Gerald Hughes

Affiliation: Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)

Organization/Publisher: Intelligence and National Security

Date/Place: May 2019, U.S.

Type of Literature: Analysis

Word Count: 6400 


Keywords: Afghanistan, Foreign Intervention, the West, Mujahiddin


This article is about Afghanistan and foreign (or the great empire’s) intervention through history. The authors give a historical and political overview of the foreign intervention in Afghanistan. According to them, Afghanistan has been the center of the battlefield for centuries – from Alexander the Great, to the British empire, Russian and now the U.S. However, they argue, that the policy of foreign intervention beginning from the British, Russian and now the U.S. has not much changed. In addition, the authors argue that the reason why Afghanistan is constantly experiencing invasion is because of its political or strategic location that connects central and south Asia, as well as its proximity to the Middle East and China. The authors end with their observation about how the prolonged US war might even be longer than expected. The nationalist movement in Afghanistan, in fact, had begun with the policy of resisting invaders to  their country. Russians, for example, roused many Islamist groups in the country to fight against the involvement of the U.S. and NATO. Similarly, the British and U.S. directly formed the “freedom fighters” or the Mujahiddin faction to fight against the Russians in Afghanistan in 1980s. The Mujahidden group was funded and trained by Western countries, mainly the U.S. and the U.K. The group then started their fighting to oust the Russian-backed regime in Afghanistan, which caused civil war for. Many years. But the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and now ISIS, in Afghanistan and the region are fighting back against the U.S. troops in the country. In essence, nationalist groups will continue to constitute themselves and organize in different fashions in order to resist any foreign presence. As the authors of the article believe, only Afghans themselves can replace an empire, not a foreign power.

By: Abdullah Jurat, CIGA Research Associate



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