The New and Revised Great Game

kaylarStarred Page By kaylar, 4th Feb 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

The current updated version of the Great Game which had been played between the British and Russian Empires


The First version of the "Great Game"; the rivalry between the British and Russian Empires, ended at the beginning of World War I.

The next version was between the British Empire and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Despite the 'name change' of one of the players, the Game and venue were the same: Afghanistan


It is difficult to envision, but from the earliest historical record, Afghanistan was simply in the path of successive conquerors, empires, and progressions. It was not a prize, it was a mixture of walkway and staging area.

Although there are famous invaders like Alexander the Great and Tamerlane, there are also those forgotten; Mauryans, Greco-Bactrians, Parthians, Kushans, Kidarites, Hephthalites, ; invasions which predate the arrival of Islam.

Arab Muslims invaded during the 7th century. Many inhabitants of Afghanistan converted. At the time of this jihad Afghanistan's major religions were Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Hindu, and there were small enclaves of Jews and Christians.

Afghanistan became part of the Persian Empire until 1709 when there was a revolt. Internal warfare continued until 1839 when the British stepped in to begin their Great Game. which continued until interruption by World War I, then resumed until World War II.

The New Great Game

After World War II Afghanistan was forgotten until it again became a pawn in the new Great Game. During this period it was a beneficiary of aid from both the Soviet Union and the United States, (which had replaced Great Britain).

The rivals vied for influence by building hotels and sewer systems and highways.

In 1973 there was a bloodless coup in which Mohammed Daouad Khan became the first President. He looked to both the Soviets and America for aid.

In 1978 there was an uprising by the Ghilzai tribe of the Pashtun against the Durrani (the tribe of Daoud Khan).

Once in power, this group, led by Nur Mohammed Taraki, renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and implemented a socialist agenda. It moved to promote state atheism, tried to carry out land reform, and confused and angered many Afghanis.

As part of the New Great Game, the U.S. saw the situation as an opportunity to weaken the Soviet Union. In 1979 the United States (under President Jimmy Carter) began to covertly fund insurgents.

President Carter's National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, described the U.S. activities as the successful setting of a trap that drew the Soviet Union into "its Vietnam War" and brought about the breakup of the Soviet empire.

The Russian defeat

On December 24, 1979 over 100,000 Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan.

The United States armed the Afghan mujahideen. This support increased substantially during the Reagan administration. Afghanistan became a centerpiece of the so-called Reagan Doctrine under which the U.S. provided support to anti-communist resistance movements in Afghanistan as well as Angola, Nicaragua, and other nations.

In furtherance of its' 'Game' several hundred FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles were given to Afghan resistance groups, including the Taliban. by the United States.

What are We doing here?

In 1989 the Soviet Union must have wondered why it was wasting so much of its resources on a meaningless place as Afghanistan and withdrew.

America took this as a victory .

Three separate administrations had trained, and armed the mujahadeen to counter Soviet influence in the vicinity of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Now that the Soviets had gone the U.S. and its allies lost interest in Afghanistan.
America had won this round of the New Great Game.

The Result of Winning

Had America ignored Afghanistan and let the Soviet Union enjoy its 'Victory', there would be no Taliban, no al-qaeda camps, and the events of September 11, 2001 would not have occurred.

Genghis Khan knew what he was doing when he passed through the area, creating little 'Khanates' which recognised the tribal nature of the people and their small world purview.

It is said that; "A Pashtun is never at peace unless he is at War", which is taken as a truism. Allowing each village to war against the other prevented Afghans warring with other groups.

America and its allies seem not to have learned from history. With boots on the ground, billions invested, a puppet government in Kabul, fighting the same losing battle that occupied the Russians for a decade America doesn't seem to get that there is no 'Winning' in Afghanistan.

As Alexander the Great proved, one Invades Afghanistan, and keeps moving.


Afghanistan, America, British Empire, Great Game, Jimmy Carter, Russian Empire, Taliban, Union Of Soviet Socialist Republic

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author avatar kaylar
I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
6th Feb 2012 (#)

A good look, and commentary, at modern history and warfare.

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author avatar kaylar
6th Feb 2012 (#)

thank you very much

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author avatar Robb714
6th Feb 2012 (#)

A very insightful history lesson on such a troubled: yet beautiful place. It would seem the most recent winner is this pawn of world powers would China that is now coming in and mining all the precious minerals out for pennies on the dollar with permission or intimidation, I don’t know.

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author avatar kaylar
6th Feb 2012 (#)

China has a great way of getting in. It doesn't care a pin about the people, the policies the government, it is all cash and carry.

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