For many, the Afghanistan War has been a thirteen-year quagmire; an ill-advised, reactionary invasion by the American government immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks. In modern memory, though, Afghanistan has been plagued with all sorts of political unrest beginning soon after World War II. Rejecting Western influence following years of British colonial rule, Afghanistan soon allied itself with its neighbor, the USSR, in the form of its receiving financial and political aid. An early 1970s famine that claimed the lives of over 500,000 civilians popularized the communist party in the eyes of many Afghans, as they viewed the party’s new platform as a sign of hope in an otherwise devastated state.
However, as Afghanistan’s new president brought with him social reforms deemed too liberal–and Western–for traditional Islamic practices, Afghanistan’s decisive rejections and reactions led the Soviet Union to intervene once more. Some are sure to remember the prophetic military failure of the Soviet-led Afghan Communists throughout the 1980’s, when the United States supported and supplied the very militants they would depose a little over a decade later. Amid a state destroyed, cultural institutions in ruins, and countless lives tragically lost–and all due to the intervention of a foreign power–many Afghans sought a return to what they knew, thus giving way to Taliban rule that would eventually support Osama Bin Laden’s vendetta against the United States. The rest, as they say, is history.