Afghanistan: Mullah, Marx, and Mujahid

Afghanistan: Mullah, Marx, and Mujahid

Afghanistan: Mullah, Marx, and Mujahid

Afghanistan: Mullah, Marx, and Mujahid

Synopsis

In this broad introductory volume, Ralph Magnus & Eden Naby detail Afghanistan's physical situation, human environment, & modern history, as well as the rise & fall of competing internal forces, most recently the Taliban. The authors offer analytical insight into Afghanistan's political position within the restructured Central Asian region, the ethnic relationships that complicate its political history, & the potential for stability.

Excerpt

Dan Rather

Afghanistan is one of the most difficult places on earth to understand. Its history is long, its culture complex. Both are shrouded in mystery and myth.

The trouble with trying to tell the story of Afghanistan, now as ever, is that it is so difficult to get the story straight and to get it out. That is, not merely to distribute the story, but to get the story in the first place.

Reporters and scholars alike are thwarted. Facts are few, opinions are fierce. Fair and accurate reporting is at a premium. To understand Afghanistan properly, one must go there, stay awhile, absorb sights and sounds, then think--and keep on thinking.

Few outsiders do this, even many people who write about the place.

The trouble is ignorance, and it manifests itself variously. Despite Afghanistan's historic importance, I have met only a few people in any other country who are familiar with Afghanistan's history. In my own country I have met only a few people who know where Afghanistan is.

It has always been difficult to get in and out of Afghanistan, physically. Getting information in and out is also a challenge. The political and military crises of the past two decades suggest that the challenges will remain at least for the near term. In most of the world, people will remain ignorant of Afghanistan.

That's a shame and a waste, and not only because ignorance is always a shame and a waste. Americans in particular are already at jeopardy, because our ignorance of what happened, what really happened, in Afghanistan colors our interpretation of history. Some want to claim the end of the Cold War as the exclusive handiwork of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, even to the point of ignoring nearly half a century of bipartisan American foreign policy and Western resolve. But many more of us tend to ignore the contributions of the Afghan mujahidin, who, by inflicting heavy losses over almost a decade, sent the Red Army into retreat and decline, helped to bankrupt the Soviet economy, and turned public sentiment against the Soviet Union throughout the Eastern Bloc and elsewhere.

Because so few outsiders have been to Afghanistan in recent years, because so few have been able to study firsthand and to report those stories to the rest of the world, it is also true that a great many persons have chal-

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