The First Sort of Cold War
The United States and Soviet Union played a game called "Cold War" from 1949 to 1991.
The game was played in other countries using other people.
Although in some cases they shed their own blood, they did not shed each other's blood as there was always a proxy or puppet between them so Hot War could be averted.
This game was not new.
It had been played before by the British and Russian Empires .
The Brits, like the Americans, shed their own blood on foreign soil testing equipment, diplomacy, and policy. They did not shed Russian blood.
The Brits, as the Americans did not fight the Russians hand to hand, they fought allies of the Russians.
The rivalry between the 'players' would have been better done on a football pitch than a battlefield, but then, life is cheap.
Sounds Good, not the Truth
The English Empire which had captured India, claimed it needed to control Afghanistan to protect that colony.
This decision prompted the Russians to enter Afghanistan.
What the Russians encountered was dozens of small weak Khanates. These little 'kingdom' had been set up by the Mongols on their path of conquest.
The Russians decided to expand their territory by capturing each Khanate and either controlled the local khan or appointed their own leader.
It was sort of the Russian version of 'Manifest Destiny.'
Afghanistan had absolutely no importance to either nation.
It was and is, probably the most backward place on Earth. It has been periodically 'conquered' by various groups on their way to somewhere else.
All through history every conqueror, whether Alexander the Great or Kublai Khan went through Afghanistan and kept going.
The only use of Afghanistan was as a battleground where nothing much would be damaged.
During the first round of the Great Game the King of England, son of Queen Victoria, went against Czar Nicholas II, the Grandson of Queen Victoria.
The Afghans were just there.
During the period the United States and the Soviet Union played their version of the Great Game, battles raged throughout the world.
Whether in Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, it was Yanks vs Reds.
In some cases, neither committed troops.
Either they armed one segment of the local population to fight the other or practised 'underthrow' to cause the greatest possible social dislocation in the 'host' nation.
Underthrow is a simple procedure.
Whatever the population depends on, be it Beef in Chile, be it rice in Jamaica, bribe the importers or farmers to hold back so the population will suffer. The population gets angry and turns against the Government.
Hence, the Government is 'Underthrown' by its own population.
Underthrow is not new, as during the previous century, Britain and the Russian Empire did very much the same things in the opposite.
Appoint leaders the population didn't support, introduce products the people didn't want, pass laws which interfered in local practices and enforce their ways with power.
Oblivious to the sensibilities of the local population, creating policies which were of no benefit to the nationals, the world was a chessboard for the Brits and Russians.
A chessboard where the Empires used real people as pawns.
The first Great Game ended between the Russian and British Empire when Germany sought to 'play'.
The two turned against Germany, (which was ruled by a nephew of the British King.)
The next time Afghanistan was noted was when the Soviet Union, taking over from the Russian Empire, decided to impose it's own government on the country.
Had the United States stayed out of it, (instead of taking on Great Britain's role) there would have been no Taliban, no al-qaaeda, no Osama Bin Laden.
But alas, hindsight is 20/20