Afghanistan’s Art of the Deal

Once a teacher always one, I sense is true. In wondering the other day how Mr. Barney my 1960 high school history teacher would be reaching us with today’s technology I came across a two-part YouTube special on ‘Afghanistan: The Great Game’. Then as the last week of February 2020 ended, President Trump announces he and the Taliban have made a ‘deal’. So, I imagined being back in Mr. Barney’s class being assigned to watch the ‘Afghanistan the Great Game’ documentary, follow current news about Trump’s Afghanistan Deal, and write an essay on what is happening. Every Friday we had a current events Weekly Reader, that I think Mr. Barney used to marry the past to the present. It is the way I teach my classes today – every week we read a chapter with videos and then by Saturday 6pm students submitted a 5-page paper, 1.5 spacing, using only that chapter, our discussion, and videos as references.  I read the papers Sunday/Monday and re-turned them heavily marked at Tuesday class as we started again with a new chapter. This is going to be an interesting week – online intime, it is called.

Afghanistan the Great Game (Part I)
In this episode, Stewart tells the story of Soviet and United States involvement in Afghanistan. From 1928 until 1978 there had been relative peace and in the 1960s and ’70s was on the hippie trail but the cold war was at its height with Afghanistan surrounded by American allies Iran and Pakistan. In northern Afghanistan soviet aid was provided and in southern Afghanistan American aid. In Kabul Islamists and communists vied for supremacy and when the communists took control in 1978 they asked the SovietUnion for military assistance. Reluctantly they agreed after the Afghan president went to Moscow in 1979. 80,000 troops entered Afghanistan and the United States saw a chance for revenge against the Soviets who aided the communists in Vietnam. The CIA covertly through GeneralZia, President of Pakistan, provided modern weaponry. CharlieWilson and socialite JoanneHerring were prominent in the raising of 9 billion dollars covertly passed to Afghanistan. In 1988 the Soviets pulled out and the country descended into a vicious five-year civil war that the Taliban emerged victorious imposing strict Islamic law. Afghanistan became a safe haven for many terrorist groups after the Twin Towers were attacked in New York.

Afghanistan the Great Game (Part II)
In this episode, Rory Stewart tells the story of British interventions in Afghanistan in the 19th century, when the British Empire became obsessed with the idea that their rival, Russia, was considering the invasion of Afghanistan as a staging post for an attack on British India. It was a period of mutual suspicion and paranoia that later became known as “The Great Game”. Afghanistan was perceived by Victorian Britain, as it’s believed to be today, to be an immediate threat to British national security. In this first film, Rory Stewart tells the story of the decision-making that led to the first British invasion of Afghanistan, and the three Anglo-Afghan wars fought in this era. And he tells the story of Afghanistan’s unlikely reaction to this period. When an Afghan-elite made a futile attempt to impose western-inspired ideas and modernity on the country.

Trump says Taliban wants deal in Afghanistan visit
President Donald Trump paid a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan, where he announced the U.S. and Taliban have been engaged in ongoing peace talks and said he believes the Taliban want a cease-fire. (Nov. 28)

Afghanistan: Fears political divide may thwart peace deal
A week-long “reduction in violence” between the Taliban, US and Afghan forces has brought hope of a lasting peace deal. But there is concern it could be delayed by political division following a controversial election. Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel Hamid reports.

Taliban Country
Nearly 20 years after the U.S. drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, the group claims it holds more territory than any time since the war began in 2001. As President Trump says he wants to end the war, FRONTLINE reporter Najibullah Quraishi goes on a dangerous journey inside both Taliban- and ISIS-held territory and exposes the harsh reality that not only is the Taliban once again wielding power, but the threat from ISIS looms large.

Bitter Lake
Bitter Lake explores how the realpolitik of the West has converged on a mirror image of itself throughout the Middle-East over the past decades, and how the story of this has become so obfuscating and simplified that we, the public, have been left in a bewildered and confused state. The narrative traverses the United States, Britain, Russia and Saudi Arabia—but the country at the center of reflection is Afghanistan. Because Afghanistan is the place that has confronted political figureheads across the West with the truth of their delusions—that they cannot understand what is going on any longer inside the systems they have built which do not account for the real world. Bitter Lake sets out to reveal the forces that over the past thirty years, rose up and commandeered those political systems into subservience, to which, as we see now, the highly destructive stories told by those in power, are inexorably bound to. The stories are not only half-truths, but they have monumental consequences in the real world.

US signs historic deal with Taliban • Feb 29, 2020
The US and the Taliban signed an agreement that begins the potential full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and could pave the way to ending America’s longest war.

US signing a historic deal with the Taliban | ABC News • Feb 29, 2020
America’s longest war may finally be nearing an end and could allow for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s Taliban, US sign peace deal • Feb 29, 2020
The US and the Taliban have signed a historic deal, aimed at paving the way for peace and the exit of foreign troops from Afghanistan. The ceremony in Doha was attended by dignitaries including the US secretary of state and foreign ministers from Qatar and Pakistan.

Now the task is to complete Mr. Barney’s written assignment. I’ll be back!


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