The Old Cliché About Afghanistan That Won’t Die


It was inevitable. With the hurried end of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, the old epitaph has been revived already in dozens of newspaper headlines, editorial cartoons and think pieces. It seems to spring from the lips of every other television commentator.

“Afghanistan,” we are told, as if this explains everything, “is the graveyard of empires.”

From Alexander the Great to 21st-century America, Afghanistan is supposed to have grievously weakened, if not ruined, all who dared to cross its borders. It’s a catchy phrase, one that evokes images of European statesmen playing “the Great Game” for Asia, Rudyard Kipling writing, “A fool lies here who tried

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