British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

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OpanaPointer
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British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by OpanaPointer » 16 Aug 2021 12:56

I digitized some British documents covering their adventures in the 'Stan back in the 1800s. Fascinating reading for those interested in deep background. https://www.history.navy.mil/content/hi ... 78-80.html
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Sheldrake
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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by Sheldrake » 18 Aug 2021 09:26

Good Find.

Towards the end of ther book is a quote from Roberts of Kabaul and Kandahar.
'We have nothing to fear from Afghanistan, and the best thing to do is to leave it as much as possible to itself. It may not be very flattering to our amour propre, but I feel sure I am right when I say that the less the Afghans see of us the less they will dislike us.
Bobs' own book on the his service in India is online
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/16528/1 ... -h.htm#468

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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by Felix C » 20 Aug 2021 21:35

If even the Old Victorians who were tough as nails and not bothered by modern sensibilities thought to stay out then the new gentler type of Westerner definitely should as well.

Maybe he softened. Having read his Indian Mutiny lettes and he was a fire breather then. Old age makes one gentle.

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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by OpanaPointer » 20 Aug 2021 22:05

Sheldrake wrote:
18 Aug 2021 09:26
Good Find.

Towards the end of ther book is a quote from Roberts of Kabaul and Kandahar.
'We have nothing to fear from Afghanistan, and the best thing to do is to leave it as much as possible to itself. It may not be very flattering to our amour propre, but I feel sure I am right when I say that the less the Afghans see of us the less they will dislike us.
Bobs' own book on the his service in India is online
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/16528/1 ... -h.htm#468
Probably the most annoying books I digitized for the NHHC, from a conversion stand-point. Fun read, in a creepy way.
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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by Sid Guttridge » 21 Aug 2021 09:09

Afghanistan has no material assets worth exploiting, so the only reasons for any outside power to go there are geopolitical.

I would suggest that the main reason why the British repeatedly interfered in Afghanistan in the 19th Century was to keep Czarist Russia out. Russia over ran several "-stans" north of Afghanistan during the century and the British wanted to keep it as a buffer covering the Raj.

Historically, it has been quite easy to over run Afghanistan's urban centres, but there is no incentive to stay there, largely because it is prohibitively expensive to control the rural areas.

The fact that North West Frontier Province (culturally part of Afghanistan) is still in Pakistan two hundred years after the British first entered it shows that it is not impossible to annex Afghan territory. But why bother?

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Sid.

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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by Sheldrake » 21 Aug 2021 11:06

Sid Guttridge wrote:
21 Aug 2021 09:09
Afghanistan has no material assets worth exploiting, so the only reasons for any outside power to go there are geopolitical.

I would suggest that the main reason why the British repeatedly interfered in Afghanistan in the 19th Century was to keep Czarist Russia out. Russia over ran several "-stans" north of Afghanistan during the century and the British wanted to keep it as a buffer covering the Raj.

Historically, it has been quite easy to over run Afghanistan's urban centres, but there is no incentive to stay there, largely because it is prohibitively expensive to control the rural areas.

The fact that North West Frontier Province (culturally part of Afghanistan) is still in Pakistan two hundred years after the British first entered it shows that it is not impossible to annex Afghan territory. But why bother?

Cheers,

Sid.
There was another reason to intevene in Afghan affairs - to prevent the Afghans from invading India...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Anglo-Afghan_War

There is an excellent book called Lessons in Imperial Rule.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lessons-Imperi ... B00DJFC3BM

This was a 1930s re-write of a manual originally written in the 1870s for the forces on the North West Frontier whose operatiosn straddled the Afghan border. It is full of good stuff with warnings against IEDs and suicide bombers. It mentions the need to operate in Brigade strength as a minimum.

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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by mil-archive » 30 Aug 2021 16:05

I'd also recommend this documentary which is in 2 parts :

pt.1



pt.2


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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by Sheldrake » 30 Aug 2021 20:43

Felix C wrote:
20 Aug 2021 21:35
If even the Old Victorians who were tough as nails and not bothered by modern sensibilities thought to stay out then the new gentler type of Westerner definitely should as well.

Maybe he softened. Having read his Indian Mutiny letters and he was a fire breather then. Old age makes one gentle.
There was also the politics of Empire. Poeple sometimes forget that there was a strong liberal streak against injustice and favour of peace. Roberts served Gladstone as well as Disraeli

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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by Felix C » 30 Aug 2021 21:27

I recently read Frank Richards' memoir of Indian service 1903-1907 in Old Soldier Sahib and see where he meets John Company veterans who describe the Indian Mutiny and how to treat the locals. These survivors were unrepentant Hard Cases as was typical at the frontier. Would love to read on any who fought Pathans in the NW frontier and dealt with Afghans during incursions. Well, I only know about Brigadier Ben Ritchie-Hook....

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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by EKB » 04 Sep 2021 06:39

Sid Guttridge wrote:
21 Aug 2021 09:09
Afghanistan has no material assets worth exploiting, so the only reasons for any outside power to go there are geopolitical.

The current poppy harvest in Afghanistan produces about 90% of the illegal heroin market globally. I'm not sure about the crop yield of 150 years ago, but I wonder if Queen Victoria or the British East India Company discussed the possibility of exploiting the opium trade in central Asia.

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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by Sheldrake » 04 Sep 2021 20:28

EKB wrote:
04 Sep 2021 06:39
Sid Guttridge wrote:
21 Aug 2021 09:09
Afghanistan has no material assets worth exploiting, so the only reasons for any outside power to go there are geopolitical.

The current poppy harvest in Afghanistan produces about 90% of the illegal heroin market globally. I'm not sure about the crop yield of 150 years ago, but I wonder if Queen Victoria or the British East India Company discussed the possibility of exploiting the opium trade in central Asia.
Err just a bit....\
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Wars
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_o ... ly_history


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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by Sid Guttridge » 04 Sep 2021 22:32

Hi Sheldrake,

Neither of those sources mention either Afghanistan or Central Asia.

As they both recount, in the 19th Century, the British forced opium on China, which was a much, much more valuable market.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: British in Afghanistan, 1800s.

Post by EKB » 06 Sep 2021 01:49

I wasn't just thinking about profits, but also chemical warfare and destability operations. Flooding large populations, and preferably enemy camps, with narcotics has been known to have multiple benefits for the distributors. It's diabolical but ancient in principle.

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