"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

Déjà Vu


“Neither (he) or his advisers had considered the reactions of the Afghans to the advance of an infidel army into their country to evict the ruler and replace him with a prince whom few of them knew and fewer cared for…



He imagined that by throwing large sums of money at the Afghans he could win them over… A policy which had worked up to a point (elsewhere) but failed in Afghanistan where religious and national passions were deeper and fiercer.”


Both quotations from a discussion of the First Anglo-Afghan War 1839 – 1842 in “Raj: The making of British India” by Lawrence James, published in 1997.


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“A new generation has arisen which, instead of profiting from the solemn lessons of the past, is willing and eager to embroil us in the affairs of that turbulent and unhappy country. Although military disasters may be avoided, an advance now, however successful in a military point of view, would not fail to turn out to be as politically useless.”

George Lawrence, Letter to the London Times, prior to the Second Anglo-Afghan War, 1878 – 1880.


“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  George Santayana


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