Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival
The treacherous mountain passes and blasted desert plains of Afghanistan have been the graveyard of every would-be conquering army since the days of Alexander the Great. With America, Britain and NATO committed to a long-term political and military engagement there, it is imperative to understand the country's complex and bloody history. Afghanistan emerged in the mid-eighteenth century from the collapse of the Persian Safavid Empire and the decline of the Mughal dynasty in India. The nineteenth century saw the country ravaged by the rivalry of warring elites, and their great power supporters. In recent times, Afghanistan has experienced the Soviet invasion of 1979, the Pakistan-backed internal conflict of the 1990s, the Taliban regime and then the US invasion after the catastrophe of 9/11. Today, whilst the US-backed government is struggling to expand its control beyond Kabul, narco-warlords, jihadists and Western troops fight out the battle for control of this strategically vital country. Why has Afghanistan's course of development been so turbulent? Why does it remain so vulnerable to domestic instability, foreign intervention and ideological extremism?