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It was not that he was opposed to discussions with his children about the war; he is preparing for the day when he will have these discussions firsthand. It was that the book seemed too light, and presented fictional scenarios where real facts would do. I know what the book did not say. My friends and I killed in Marjah, and Marines in my rifle company lost limbs and lives. No notional exercise in choice will erase the fact that both my battalion and the battalion to our north killed many civilians in the opening days of Operation Moshtarak, when American high-explosive rockets struck occupied Afghan homes.

Then, in the end, American plans for the area failed.

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Today Marjah is again under of the control of the Taliban and warlords. This initial surprise — of having as his daughters encounter his war in their own home — was only the start.


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Stockland was direct. Your recent piece in The New York Times was humbling, articulate and very much a wake-up call for us. Stockland further informed Bell that Capstone had discontinued the book, planned to destroy the remaining copies in its inventory and was reviewing its entire line of titles to see if it should take action on other books.

Bell was working in construction near where he lives in Tennessee when the email arrived, and was so taken aback that he had to read it twice to understand what Stockland was saying.

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Then he found it humbling, a moment of corporate responsibility and mutual respect, both results of his work. Stockland later elaborated on her position.


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  • It is the danger of our work and the responsibility we need to bear more seriously. The outcome of this essay aligned with why Bell wanted to write in the first place. There has been a huge refugee population outside the country since , numbering over six million in —it constituted the largest refugee population in the world. Although many returned after the fall of the Communist regime in April , several million Afghan refugees are still in Pakistan, Iran, and the Arabian peninsula.

    Some middle-class persons and intellectuals have settled in the West. Linguistic Affiliation. Many inhabitants are bilingual or trilingual, and all the major languages are Afghanistan spoken in the neighboring countries. The official languages are Persian officially called Dari and Pashto; both belong to the Iranian group of the Indo-European linguistic family. Pashto, which is divided into two major dialects, is also spoken in large areas of Pakistan. Despite government initiatives to promote Pashto, Persian is the preferred means of expression among educated and urban people.

    The Iranian group is also represented by Baluchi and some residual languages. The Nuristani languages are intermediate between Iranian and Indian groups, while Pashay is a conservative Indian language. Turkic languages, represented by Uzbek, Turkmen, and Kirghiz, are spoken widely in the north. Moghol and Arabic enclaves are disappearing. Afghanistan has never had a strongly unified national culture, and war has led to further fragmentation.

    The old flag of green, white, and black horizontal strips has been abandoned, and there is no national anthem.

    The Feudal Warlords of Afghanistan Are Back (2002)

    The national currency the Afghani is printed in two separate locations, with a locally varying exchange rate. Emergence of the Nation. The territory of modern Afghanistan was the center of several empires, including Greco-Buddhist kingdoms and the Kushans An Afghani man sits in the rubble of Kabul, Afghanistan in Between and , the Taliban seized control of southern Afghanistan. It was a base of action for many rulers of India, notably the Mughals. The modern nation emerged during the eighteenth century by Pashtun tribes in reaction to the decline of the Persian and Indian empires.

    During the nineteenth century, Afghanistan struggled successfully against the colonial powers and served as a buffer state between Russia and British India. The three Anglo-Afghan wars —; —; could have forged a national feeling, but the country's history has been dominated by internal conflicts. The first half of the nineteenth century was marked by a feud between two branches of the Durrani Pashtuns, with the Mohammadzay eventually succeeding and ruling until Abdur Rahman Abdorrahman Khan, r.

    Although political unity was forged during his reign, his harsh tactics created enmities between Sunnis and Shiites, between Pashtuns and other ethnic groups, and among Pashtuns, as well as between rural and urban people. King Amanullah Amanollah Khan, r.

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    An attempt to set up a parliamentary government after resulted in serious social troubles—leading to the seizure of power by the Communists in , many of whom were young, recently urbanized, detribalized people seeking social advancement. Within a few months the country was rebelling, and in the Soviet Union intervened militarily. The Soviet withdrawal in and the fall of the Communist regime in led to an explosion of tensions and dissatisfactions. In response to this situation, the Taliban religious students from refugee camps in Pakistan , seized the south in the winter of — and restored security.

    Since that time they have conquered most of the country, but have been unable to incorporate other groups or obtain international recognition. National Identity. Until , Afghanistan avoided fragmentation through a shared religion and the relative autonomy of local communities even though the government favored Pashtun culture and folklore. Most inhabitants felt they belonged primarily to a local community and secondarily to the supranational Islamic community. National identity was weak, but the state was not considered disruptive.

    This fragile equilibrium was destroyed after the coup of The symbols on which the legitimacy of the government was based political independence, historical continuity, and respect of Islam vanished. Ethnic Relations. Before , ethnic relations were competitive and tense. The pro-Soviet government attempted to promote the rights, culture, and languages of non-Pashtun groups. Although this endeavor failed, it led to an erosion of the Pashtun political hegemony. In the s, political claims evolved progressively from an Islamic to an ethnic discourse.

    Islam-inspired resistance to the Soviets failed to provide a common ground for building peace and uniting people. Since , the civil war has been marked by ethnic claims that have led to polarization between Pashtuns who dominate the Taliban movement and the other ethnic groups who form the bulk of the opposing Northern Alliance.

    There are several historical cities, such as Balkh, Ghazni, and Herat, but after twenty years of war, the preservation of historical monuments is not a priority. The Kabul Museum was looted repeatedly, nothing is left of the covered bazaar of Tashqurghan Tash Kurghan in the north, and the Buddha statues of Bamyan Bamian have been damaged.

    Most cities and towns are in ruins, and little reconstruction is occurring. In the south and the center, the most common form of housing is the multi-story fortified farm with high walls built from a mixture of mud and straw. They are scattered in the fields, sometimes forming loose hamlets.

    In the north and the west, smaller compounds with vaulted houses of mud brick are prevalent. In the eastern highlands, settlements are grouped; stone and timber are common building materials. In both urban and rural settings, bazaars are not residential areas. Domestic architecture is based on the separation between the public and private parts of the house so that women do not interact with strangers. Furnishings are generally rudimentary. Many families sleep in one room on mattresses that are unfolded for the night, and no places are assigned.

    In the morning, the room is tidied, with the mattresses and quilts piled in a corner. Rich families may have a separate guest house, but Afghans do not like to sleep alone and generally do not provide guests with separate rooms.