Dates (And Their Defence)

A lot of non-fiction books have dates in their titles. Most of the time they do this to confine the study. Because all things are connected; all events in history are causative and effective. Afghanistan is no different. Its history (depending on how you track it) goes back to 1880, 1747, the 15th century, or even further back. Louis Dupree says 3rd century Sasanians were talking about “Abgans.”

This history is fascinating, and I enjoyed writing about it. It’s vital for context. It’s vital for context. I am aware that I wrote that twice. Here it is again: History is vital for context. And context is king.

So I wrote a history of Afghanistan in 8,000 (ish) words so that the ten years or so I’ve chosen to talk about make more sense.

The dates I’ve picked are October 2001 – July 2011.

I don’t think I could get more current than that. To any Afghan scholar, those dates should be pretty well known. To an Outsider, however, they might be a little less so.

October, 2001

Seeing the date isolated like that, it should be easy to see. I’ve chosen this date because it marks the start of the American (and international) efforts in Afghanistan. The Americans invaded to oust the Taliban and destabilize al-Qaeda. It was in retaliation for 9/11.

July, 2011

This date might be less well-known to Outsiders. It’s the date that’s been earmarked for the start of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It’s in the future, but I’ll have most of the work done by the time it comes around. And there should be time for me to assess the differences (if there are any) in the situation before and after.

This is a bit of a nothing post, but I figured I’d put something up here, just so you know what’s going on.

At The Moment

… I’m working on models of international illicit markets, and how they operate. Why certain people choose to get involved and others don’t. How opium (and heroin—internationally) are traded, and the ways in which groups benefit is very important.

I also want to stress the importance of non-human factors. Two in particular: the markets and Mother Nature. These are two things that we like to think we can control, but really we can’t. I want to address the impact that natural causes have on the markets.

For instance, a drought in Southeast Asia in the late 1970s meant that a lot of opium production moved to the Golden Cresent. Opium produced in Afghanistan until then had been low scale, and consumed locally. At the same time, in Iran, the Ayatollah banned of the production but not consumption of opium. Suddenly Afghanistan’s opium had an international market, and demand that meant opium production massively increased.

That’s all for now. Reading to do.


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