Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, June 24, 2011



Quick! A Question: What do Alexander the Great, Queen Victoria, Genghis Khan and Leonid Brezhnev all have in common?? They all tried to conquer Afghanistan but ended up leaving!  And...as of yesterday...we can add a new name to the list: PRESIDENT OBAMA!  In a press conference yesterday, he announced that almost all troops will be removed by September 2012.  So, on this magical date, this landlocked (but highly geocentric) nation will once again be independent and not ruled by Greece, Russia, Britain the USA or the Mongolian Horde.

So, to coincide with this historic announcement, we here at the DUNER BLOG evaluated these five attempts to conquer Afghanistan and gave each a grade.

ALEXANDER THE GREAT.  When the "Macedonian Madman" arrived in the year 330 BC, his army was now 60,000 strong, thanks to reinforcements from General Clitus (insert tasteless joke here).  They proceeded to annihilate the surprised Zoroastrian empires and burned their four main population centers to the ground. Each was re-built into cities and each named Alexandria (how creative!).  Today, they are the four main cities of Afghanistan: Kabul, Khandahar, Herat and Khost.  Although he didn't stay long, he kicked butt. GRADE: A-

GENGHIS KHAN.  There's not much written about what happened in 1219 when some 200,000  Mongolians horsemen came thundering in through from the East...but it's hard to imagine much was left.  While GENGHIS KHAN is often portrayed today as cartoonish and silly (as in the cinematographic masterpiece Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure), let's not belittle his savagery...especially to captured civilians.  Each Mongolian soldier had to kill 24 innocent people to stay in the army.  For unnecessary cruelty: GRADE: C-

QUEEN VICTORIA. As part of the Great Game of Chess...played between her majesty and the Czar of Russia, the peaceful Kingdom of Afghanistan became an unwitting player.  Britain took the first offensive and invaded from the South.  The result was not one..not two...but three Anglo-Afghan wars. The final one ended in a withdraw of British troops in 1914 to fight World War I.  For tenacity: GRADE: D+

LEONID BREZHNEV. The Russian Empire managed to gobble up many of the "Stans" of Central Asia.  Not surprisngly, the Soviet Union wanted to continue this great tradition by annexing Afghanistan into the USSR.  As always, they managed to rig an election to insure a pro-Soviet candidate won.  Shortly thereafter, in 1979, 100,000 Red Army troops stormed down from the northern border.  For nearly a decade, they stayed until the US-backed Taliban forced them out.  GRADE: D

BARACK OBAMA.  Although our current war was started by his predecessor, GEORGE W. BUSH, we'll just group these two old friends together.  This time, the USA decided to fight against the Taliban. While the troops have succeeded in liberating the four main towns founded by Alexander, the rest of the nation remains in serious limbo. GRADE: INC.

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