August 17, 2021

From The Fall of Heaven To The Rise of Hell

"Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done." - George W. Bush, September 20, 2001.

"Where men are forbidden to honour a king, they honor millionaires, athletes, or film stars instead; even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison." - C. S. Lewis.

"Politicians are of course an artificially privileged and protected class; more privileged and protected than any of the aristocracies of the past. An aristocrat sometimes had his head cut off by the public executioner, at the command of the public authority. A gentleman was sometimes run through the body by another gentleman, in an affair of private honour. As our politics make light alike of private honour and public authority, the politician is probably the first ruler in all history who runs no risks by the act of ruling.” - G. K. Chesterton.

"I don’t want us to become the servants of Russia or China or the servant of any other place." - Mohammed Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan.

"While U.S. officials debated their options, Americans living in Iran reached their own conclusions about where the country was headed and quite literally ran for the exits. Frightened by attacks and threats against foreigners, exhausted after weeks of living in barricaded houses without heat and postal delivery, and only intermittent water, electricity, and working telephones, they formed convoys to drive to Mehrebad Airport, where "a great wave of humanity" had congregated. Everyone, it seemed, had the same idea: it was time to get out. ... Those who stayed behind bore witness to scenes of bloodlust, savagery, and unbridled anarchy." - Andrew Scott Cooper, "The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran" pg. 470-71.

The modern misfortunes that have plagued Afghanistan began with the overthrow of its monarchy in a bloodless coup in 1973. 

During the reign of its last king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, Afghanistan experienced a long peace that allowed the monarch to introduce political reforms, expand women's rights, and increase educational opportunities.

The leader of the 1973 coup was assassinated by a Communist group in 1978 which then established a pro Soviet regime.

Many articles and books have been written about the American, Saudi, and Pakistani intervention in Afghanistan to overthrow the Soviet regime with the use of Islamist terrorist groups and Jihadi commanders. 

But foreign intervention in Afghanistan's internal affairs began earlier than the establishment of the Soviet regime. 

The historical impact of the Shah of Iran's policy towards Afghanistan has often been overlooked, but it was a critical one. 

Journalist and scholar Selig S. Harrison wrote in May 1979 in an article for The Washington Post titled, "The Shah, Not Kremlin, Touched Off Afghan Coup":

Throughout the Cold War, Afghanistan, which shares a 1,050-mile border with the U.S.S.R., had pursued a Soviet-tilted brand of neutralism reflecting its vulnerable, land-locked position. The Russians, in turn, had kept up friendly relations with successive Afghan rulers, and they were particularly pleased with Daud's cooperative attitude following his overthrow of the monarchy in 1973. Beginning in 1974, however, Iran, encouraged by the United States, made a determined effort to draw Kabul into a western-tilted, Tehran-centered regional economic and security sphere embracing Pakistan, India and the Persian Gulf states.



In Kabul, president Daud explained to me that Iran's new economic potential had altered the geopolitical equation in the region, offering an alternative to excessive dependence on Moscow. "Our historical relations with Iran were unpleasant," he said, "but we must adapt to the new realities."

Told of this conversation, British Ambassador to Afghanistan Roy Crook, a veteran Afghan specialist, predicted that "if it goes too far and too fast," Tehran's diplomacy "will surely upset the Russians and produce a reaction." The Soviets were beginning to give some help to the Afghan Communists, he said, in order to keep Daud in line and prepare for an increasingly uncertain future. 



The issue before the United States, put in its baldest terms, is whether to follow in the shah's footsteps. American policymakers will have to decide whether a chancy attempt to eject the Russians from Kabul is worth provoking a showdown that could result in an uncontrollable pattern of regional destabilization

Not only did America follow in the Shah's footsteps by intervening in Afghanistan's internal affairs, but it turned the entire country upside down with the help of its Saudi and Pakistani partners.

After all the platitudes and human rights rhetoric, in the end, all Washington ended up doing in Afghanistan is replace Communism with Political Islam.

The twin evils of Communism and Political Islam, and the two evil empires of our age, the Soviet Union and America, have damaged Afghanistan's progress. 

But as Communism was defeated in Afghanistan so too will be the fate of Political Islam. 

The Taliban are foreign to Afghanistan's culture and history. They are a modern phenomenon who would not exist without money from the Persian Gulf states and sanctuaries provided by Pakistan.

Selig Harrison wrote in 1979, "the Pakistan-based Afghan guerrilla groups have not previously been identified with Afghan nationalist tradition. They represent, for the most part, the pan-Islamic movement linked with the Moslem Brotherhood."

Afghanistan, as a victim of regional and international conspiracies, has experienced wars and regimes of all kinds for half a century since the end of the monarchy. 

And with the Taliban's rise to dominance more wars are surely to come in the near future. But, if history is any guide, the Taliban won't last for long. They will unleash hell on the country and call it paradise, but Afghans will see through them.

Now that they are the foreign-backed occupiers of Afghanistan they will find that ruling is harder than rebelling.