In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan - PDF by ProQuest


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      search-and-rescue operations. The au-                     In an August 2009 Wall Street Journal
      thors argue that because these steps are                  article, Seth Jones described meeting
      limited, practical, and focus on the in-                  villagers in Afghanistan who had never
      terests of all sides, China may be willing                heard of President Hamid Karzai and
      to engage here, and that further, be-                     even thought the U.S. military forces he
      cause of Tehran’s desire to stay on good                  was traveling with were Soviets, “not re-
      terms with Beijing, Chinese participa-                    alizing that the Soviet army withdrew in
      tion might induce some restraint on                       1989.” This lack of knowledge may
      Iran’s part.                                              seem implausible in an era of cell phone
      The Vital Triangle is well worth reading.                 and Internet communication, but Jones
      It provides a useful contextual frame-                    offers a detailed narrative of the histori-
      work for placing in perspective over-                     cal and modern-day challenges in Af-
      hyped news reports on Sino-U.S.                           ghanistan that makes this ignorance
      disputes over Chinese arms deals with                     believable. He describes a country pop-
      countries in the region, Beijing’s grow-                  ulated by diverse ethnic tribes with
      ing concerns about ensuring the secu-                     strong aversions to central governance.
      rity of its oil imports, threats from                     As the title implies, he recalls the failure
      Egypt and Saudi Arabia that they may                      of foreign forces time and again to tame
      seek Beijing’s political-military support                 and govern this disparate Afghan popu-
      as an alternative to Washington, and at-                  lace. From Alexander the Great in 330
                                                                BC to the British Empire in the nine-
      tempts by Iran to appeal to China as a
      counterweight to Western pressures.                       teenth century, to the Soviet invasion of
      Because the book cogently illustrates                     the 1970s, Afghanistan has been seem-
      Beijing’s reluctance to take risks or                     ingly unconquerable. Against this back-
      choose sides and thereby diminishes the                   ground Jones demonstrates the
      credibility of China as a counterweight,                  monumental challenge that the United
      Americans working diplomatically in                       States faces as it attempts to do what
      the Mideast could even find it useful to                  other “empires” could not—“create a
      provide copies to their host-country in-                  new order” in Afghanistan. He clearly
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