Monday, October 27, 2014

West pulling in, and out of, Afghanistan

Amber Larson, Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells, CC Liu, Laila Re, Wisdom Quarterly; Ian Thomson (, Feb. 2, 2014);;
American edition of The Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42, author William Dalrymple (R), at Asia Society, New York, Feb. 2012. (Suzanna Finley/Asia Society)
Shah Shoja in kabul
Shah Shoja, puppet of the British, holds a durbar in Kabul, during the First Anglo-Afghan War (Print Collector/Getty Images/
The Return of a King (Afghanistan)
Author in Pasadena (
William Dalrymple's colorful history of the first British campaign in Afghanistan draws effective parallels with recent events.

[For example, the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex continues its exploits with no end in sight: the U.S. is not leaving, Pres. Karzai is, and the newly selected puppet, Pres. Ashraf Ghani (CIA-groomed and U.S.-educated economist and World Bank official missing from Afghanistan for the past 24 years, quite like Emir Shah Shujah Durrani, the British puppet installed when this entire imperial charade played out more than two centuries ago, who is currently in China cutting new business deals, likely offering to sell off Mes Aynak -- the world's most fascinating Buddhist archeological site -- as a strip mining location for even less than originally promised), has invited us to stay indefinitely, because that's how well the CIA does its job, even as the British "officially" depart this past weekend in sickly echoes of the past].

Kenneth Williams, with his nasal, camp-cockney inflections, made a very good Khasi of Kalabar in "Carry On Up the Khyber." The film, shot in 1968 in north Wales, satirized British imperial ambitions in Afghanistan and the Kingdom of Kabul (now Pakistan). Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond and his posh cor blimey cohorts find themselves out of their depth amid tribal bloodletting and jihadi mayhem. Qur'anic [Koranic] ideals of mercy are not shown the 3rd Foot and Mouth Regiment as they move up the Khyber [Pass].

Early Buddhist art: birth of the Buddha, aka Prince Siddhartha Gautama (
William Dalrymple's history of Britain's ill-fated 1839-1842 occupation of Afghanistan has elements of "Carry On." British army deserters, spies, and drunken archaeologists rub shoulders with "hookah-smoking, pyjama-wearing" East India [Company] traders and their "dashing Rajput" warlord associates. For all the Boy's Own tone, however, Return of the King is a serious work of history.
Shakyaland = Indo-Scythia (CC)
According to Dalrymple, the Afghans regarded their deliverance from the British in 1842 as "their Trafalgar, Waterloo, and Battle of Britain rolled into one" [examples of triumphant British battles].

The invasion, intended to thwart perceived Russian tsarist designs on the region [the Russian Empire and later USSR had extended across North Asia and down Central Asia and just needed Afghanistan to make it to the sea, surround Iran, and complete their domination of the region], was achieved without difficulty; the problem, as with subsequent invasions of Afghanistan, was getting out.

The occupying British troops encountered hostility as they went about publicly drinking and whoring [in a Muslim land where those things are usually done in secret]. The "king" of the book's title -- Shah Shuja -- was a British appointment and gratifyingly pliable [another pawn being made rich by selling out his people and being friendly to the West].

However, his ties with the infidel [Judeo-Christian] British make him unpopular; violence erupts in Kabul [now the Afghan capital] as anti-Shuja protesters take up arms.

Throughout, Dalrymple draws "clear and relevant parallels" (as he calls them) with Afghanistan today.

In American eyes, all of Afghanistan was a target after the twin towers assault [a pretext used to launch a pre-planned war on, invasion, and indefinite occupation of Afghanistan, the toughest foreign land it has tried to rule since bombing three other Buddhist countries into submission: Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia]: there could be no innocent people in a "guilty" nation [guilty of letting Emmanuel Goldstein/Osama bin Laden live in its caves].
Buddhism spread out from Afghanistan, India
The US forces had intended to "liberate" Kabul from the Taliban, but Pentagon intransigence was no defense against Muslim fanaticism. In neighboring Pakistan, the Taliban created [by the CIA and OSI, Pakistan's own intelligence agency, out of Pakistani prisoners radicalized in prison and released early, deported to Afghanistan, and told to make jihad against the West, Afghans, and Buddhist history to serve as a pretext for sending in overwhelming US military force and a permanent presence, created] a climate of fear (an important weapon in their fanatic armory) and tempted young men into a useless martyr's death.

In swift-paced prose, Dalrymple chronicles Britain's first Afghan war (as it came to be known) through British, Afghan, and Russian eyes.

Tsar Nicolas I, it turns out, had no designs at all on Afghanistan. The British takeover, based on "doctored intelligence about a virtually non-existent threat," was begun for no wise purpose.

But it left a trail of carnage and muddled strategy in its wake. "Fakir, off!" as a character says in the "Carry On" movie. Source
Shakyaland (Scythian territories)
Afghan Maitreya, Gandhara (AA)
The years 200 BC to 100 AD in the Afghanistan region was a fitful and confusing period, riven with internal conflict fed by waves of outside invasion from Central Asian nomads [just as the Shakya clan had been centuries earlier] and the Parthian warriors from present-day Iran ["Ariyan"-land].

The result: an ever-shifting military, political, linguistic, and cultural landscape, with multiple overlapping powers. No single tribe [clan, gotta], dynasty, or cultural influence could hold sway beyond their immediate neighborhood.
No less than five separate kingdoms, empires, military dynasties, and tribes battled and jostled with one another during this 300-year period to establish a buffer state or homeland in this rugged, remote region. These five overlapping powers and tribes were:
  1. The Parthian Empire
  2. The Indo-Greek Kingdom 
  3. The Indo-Parthian Kingdom 
  4. The Yuezhi Invasion and
  5. Indo-Scythian Rule; which was supplanted and pushed aside by The Kushan Empire. More
U.S. War on Afghanistan ending? (No)
Azam Ahmed (, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014)
Marine listening to music before invading forces withdraw from Camp Bastion, Helmand province, this weekend. The last US Marines and British combat troops have "officially" ended operations. Unofficial combat roles will continue indefinitely (Omar Sobhani/IrishTimes).
Combat operations in the province of Helmand officially ended yesterday for US marines and British troops stationed there, bringing an end to a decade-long struggle to keep a major Taliban stronghold and the [Afghan] region’s vast opium production in check [or actually in highly profitable production].

Officials commemorated the handover during ceremonies at Camp Leatherneck for the Marines and Camp Bastion for the British forces, conjoined bases that made up the coalition headquarters for the region.
The Afghan Army’s 215th Corps will assume full control of the [combined] camps, a 6,500-acre parcel of desert scrubland in southwest Afghanistan -- and with it responsibility for securing one of the most violent provinces in the country.
Some US combat troops will remain in Afghanistan through the end of the year [what a surprise], but the closing of Camp Bastion signified the end of British operations in the country. More

Explaining "Afghan Buddhism"
QUESTION: "Why does Wisdom Quarterly say there's an "Afghan Buddhism" when surely all of Afghanistan is Muslim, radical Islamists, and maybe Sufi or some Pashtun tradition?
ANSWER: Good question! We speak of Afghanistan's Buddhist past, as a citadel of the Dharma at Bamiyan (where the CIA/Taliban blew up the world's biggest Buddha statues, the likely site of the original Kapilavastu, the seasonal Scythian capital of the Shakya clan and their republic or janapada, "foothold of the clan") and Mes Aynak ("Little Copper Well," the unexcavated and incompletely logged site of the world's most massive Buddhist temple/town complex, which is at least one square mile of archeological treasures threatened with destruction for the sake of Chinese mining interests) and other archeological sites both found (i.e., "Golden Hill" or Tillya Tepe) and yet to be discovered.
Afghan (not Indian or Nepalese) Treasures
The Buddha's urn, Bimaran casket (W/BM)
The Bimaran urn is a small gold reliquary (gold and gemstone-studded container within a larger soapstone casket) for the Buddha's sacred relics that was found inside. Stupa No.2 at BIMARAN, near Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan. When it was found by archaeologist Charles Masson during his work in Afghanistan between 1833 and 1838, the casket contained coins of the Indo-Scythian King Azes II.

But recent research by Senior indicates Azes II never existed (R.C. Senior, "The Final Nail in the Coffin of Azes II," Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society 197, 2008, pp. 25-27) and archeological finds attributed to his reign should probably be reassigned to King Azes I. The container also had coins sometimes dated to a slightly earlier date of 50 CE, based on a redeposition theory, and sometimes much later (2nd century CE), based on artistic assumptions. It is currently in the collections of the British Museum.
Priceless Afghan Buddhist cultural treasures cataloged by the U.S. Dept. of War/DOD (CC)
The Buddhist past of Iran is completely obscured, overtaken by official Muslims, remnant Zoroastrians (one or both of which were aligned with the Titans, the Asuras, rather than the Shining Ones, the Devas, of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain cosmology/mythology), and blended in with mystical Sufism.

One thing is sure, having asked one, the Hazaris are proud of their spiritual heritage and archeological history -- much as most U.S. citizens are proud of our Native American roots, relations, and lore. We're proud enough to protect it with anti-vandalism laws, UNESCO World Heritage and/or similar certifications, making ancient sites popular tourist attraction, like the whole of Sedona and the Grand Canyon, the National Forests and Parks, but not enough to preserve the life and active culture of those same peoples.

If anyone should wish to learn about the impossible history of faraway Afghanistan and the massively influential "Afghan Buddhism," here are just four recent links. Wisdom Quarterly: American Buddhist Journal is one of the few sites in the world to constantly pursue lines of inquiry where past politicians, historians, and archeologists put up apparent roadblocks so that the truth would never come out.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the maverick historical research and documentation of
One day the truth will triumph, not in our lifetimes perhaps, but one day. For the truth about the real Kapilavastu and origins of the Buddha can no more remain hidden than the sun or moon.
A Scythian tribe
Wondrous Buddhist treasures of Afghanistan, Indo-Scythia, Gandhara, Central Asia
Indo-Scythian coin designs
The Buddha was born an Afghan as it were. (There was no "Afghanistan" then but the land in Central Asia, adjacent to kingdoms one could anachronistically lump together as "India," which would not come into existence as a unified country, holding, or empire until at the earliest the life of Asoka, a brutal emperor who converted to Buddhism and united everyone. Dr. Pal suggests he was not an Indian raja (king, ruler) but from farther west like the Buddha himself). The Buddha and his extended family were foreigners in Varanasi (Benares, Kasi), Bihar (Vihar, Bodh Gaya), and Magadha (Rajgir, King Bimbisara's capital on the Gangetic plain), where Buddhism first took hold along with the territory held by his family clan.

Explaining "Afghan Buddhism"
Here are four articles that give a taste of the obscured history of Buddhism outside of any place that could be called "India." The the first images of the Buddha in human form came from Gandhara, which is now Afghanistan/Pakistan is also significant. The people of that culture were not dominated by Brahmanism, the influential religion of the Brahmins of "India" at the time of the Buddha or the stunning spiritual diversity along the Indus and Ganges rivers.

Wisdom Quarterly reader Urizen sets the gears in motion into the most details:
But "Who Were the Shakyans?" Who was the family Prince Siddhartha left on a spiritual quest that took him east, where he became the Buddha?
It's very hard for average American in the US to understand what Afghanistan was and how) important it has been to history. American researchers Fitzgerald and Gould ( by tells the amazing history since the British left, along with the writing of Return of the King's William Dalrymple. It is very amazing and we only know about it because of the never ending wars led by the west against it. It's so amazing what happened to the land when the Greeks came:
Prof. Brent E. Huffman (often covered by Wisdom Quarterly) is keenly interested in saving Mes Aynak or at least documenting its significance before it is razed by the Chinese with the blessing of the current Afghan regime installed by Western democracy backed by war and the threat of more war.

No comments: