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The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia by Peter Hopkirk
But none of them had had to face a highly disciplined force, led and trained by European officers schooled in the most advanced defensive tactics of the day. The defenders would be fresh, well fed and regularly supplied, while the invaders would be exhausted from months of marching and hardships, short of food and ammunition, and greatly reduced in numbers. If the invader got that far, then there were two obvious points, Kinneir noted, at which he might try to cross the Indus. Were he to approach India via Kabul and the Khyber Pass, as a number of earlier invaders had, then he would most likely choose Attock. Here, he reported, the Indus was ‘of great breadth, black, rapid and interspersed with many islands, all of which may be easily defended.’ However, there were a number of fordable spots in the vicinity. Were the invader to take the more southerly route through Afghanistan, via Kandahar and that other great gateway to India, the Bolan Pass, then he would probably attempt to cross the Indus near Multan, 300 miles down river from Attock.
Even the Russians – and now Kinneir switched specifically to them – must approach India through Afghanistan, whether they set out from their new stronghold in the Caucasus or from their forward base at Orenburg, on the edge of the Kazakh Steppe. If they used the former, he warned, they could avoid having to march the length of Persia by making use of the Caspian, which they now controlled, to transport troops eastwards to its far shore. From there they could march to the Oxus, up which they could be ferried as far as Balkh, in northern Afghanistan. After crossing Afghanistan, they could approach India via the Khyber Pass. This, it will be recalled, was the route which Peter the Great had hoped to use to make contact with India’s Mogul rulers – a dream which had ended with the massacre of the Khivan expedition. Kinneir was clearly unaware of the appalling difficulties of this route, for it was not until 1873, long after his death, that a detailed account of the expedition, and the hardships which it had to overcome, was translated from the Russian.
For the artful Rafailov, whom Moorcroft held in such esteem, had successfully poisoned the minds of the senior Chinese officials against them before setting out on his own fateful journey through the passes. Moorcroft and his companions now tried to make up for lost time, leaving Leh before the letter summoning them home could reach them. In the late spring of 1824, after travelling through Kashmir and the Punjab (taking care to steer well north of Ranjit Singh’s capital, Lahore), they crossed the Indus and entered the Khyber Pass. Beyond it lay Afghanistan, and beyond that Bokhara. ·8· Death on the Oxus To take an ill-armed caravan laden with precious goods, and rumoured to be carrying gold, through the heart of Afghanistan was at the best of times a perilous undertaking. To attempt this when the country was in the grip of anarchy, and teetering on the brink of civil war, called for courage, or perhaps foolhardiness, of the highest order.
The Wars of Afghanistan by Peter Tomsen
airport security, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, facts on the ground, failed state, friendly fire, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, Internet Archive, Khyber Pass, land reform, Mikhail Gorbachev, Plutocrats, plutocrats, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, trade route, union organizing, uranium enrichment, women in the workforce
One after another, the British-officered Pashtun militia units broke up and defected to the Afghans. The famous Khyber Rifles unit, raised from the Afridi tribe, was the first to go, its deserters joining hundreds of Pashtuns on both sides of the border attempting to capture the Khyber Pass. Further west, Waziri and Mahsud tribal militia in the Kurram and North and South Waziristan went over to the invading Afghans. The British struck back from the air, surprising the Afghans, who had never experienced an attack from that quarter. Three British bombers struck the invading tribal forces at the strategic Khyber gateway to Afghanistan. British infantry advanced from Peshawar intending to clear the Khyber Pass and move on to Jalalabad. Nadir Khan, meanwhile, crossed the border to the west with fourteen regiments and assorted Afghan tribal allies. Thousands of fierce Wazir and Mahsud tribesmen in North and South Waziristan rushed to join him as he fought through the Tochi River Valley in North Waziristan and attacked the British garrison at Thal.
Greek coins carried the faces of local Greek rulers, and Greek became a common tongue of the ruling elites throughout the region. A trove of folktales and legends about “the Great One,” orally passed down throughout middle Eurasia, survives today. Alexander is known as “Iskandar.” Afghan parents still occasionally choose Iskandar as the name for their sons—and Roxane, Alexander’s wife’s name, for daughters. Along the Afghan-Pakistani frontier, some Pashtun tribes—such as the Afridi, residing near the famed Khyber Pass—claim Greek ancestry. The Nuristanis, in Konar, who provided three hundred cavalry to Alexander’s army,5 explain that their race’s light complexion and frequent blond hair and blue eyes originate from remnants of Alexander’s army who stayed behind. The Persian tribal migrations from Central Asia into present-day Afghanistan and Iran began after Alexander the Great’s conquests and a century before the Parthians blocked Crassus’s way east.
This time, 33,000 British troops crossed into Afghanistan, igniting the second Anglo-Afghan war. Again, the British enjoyed early successes but eventual failure. Afghan ruler Sher Ali fled to the Amu Darya. The Russians rejected his appeal for assistance. Isolated, abandoned by Afghans, and in deteriorating health, Sher Ali died in February 1879. In May, the British forced his son, Yaqub Khan, to sign the Treaty of Gandamak, surrendering to the British the Khyber Pass, the Pashtun tribal areas east of the Khyber (in present-day Pakistan), plus the region north of the Bolan Pass (also in present-day Pakistan) south of Kandahar province. The Afghans agreed to British control of Afghan foreign policy and a permanent British residency in Kabul; the British, in return, promised an annual stipend to Yaqub Khan and his successors. Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli publicly hailed Britain’s success in pushing the empire’s sphere of influence to the Hindu Kush watershed.33 As is so often the case involving foreign invaders of Afghanistan, Disraeli’s declaration of victory was premature.
airport security, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, colonial rule, computer age, energy security, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, illegal immigration, index card, Islamic Golden Age, Khyber Pass, Mikhail Gorbachev, Network effects, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, trade route, upwardly mobile, urban planning, women in the workforce
“Our ultimate goal is the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan,” Brzezinski wrote in a Top Secret memo a week later. “Even if this is not attainable, we should make Soviet involvement as costly as possible.”31 Anti-Soviet fever swept Washington, arousing support for a new phase of close alliance between the United States and Pakistan. Together they would challenge the Soviets across the Khyber Pass, much as the British had challenged czarist Russia on the same Afghan ground a century before. Yet for the American staff left behind to work near the charred campus of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, half a day’s drive from the Khyber, the Soviet invasion was a doubly bitter turn of events. They were shocked by Moscow’s hegemonic violence and at the same time angry that Pakistani dictator Zia-ul-Haq would benefit.
They linked up with one of the hanged Bhutto’s sons, Murtaza, and helped him carry out hijackings of Pakistani airliners.16Zia suspected that India’s intelligence service was involved as well. If Soviet-backed communists took full control in Afghanistan, Pakistan would be sandwiched between two hostile regimes—the Soviet empire to the west and north, and India to the east. To avoid this, Zia felt he needed to carry the Afghan jihad well across the Khyber Pass, to keep the Soviets back on their heels. A war fought on Islamic principles could also help Zia shore up a political base at home and deflect appeals to Pashtun nationalism. Zia knew he would need American help, and he milked Washington for all he could. He turned down Carter’s initial offer of $400 million in aid, dismissing it as “peanuts,” and was rewarded with a $3.2 billion proposal from the Reagan administration plus permission to buy F-16 fighter jets, previously available only to NATO allies and Japan.17Yet as he loaded up his shopping cart, Zia kept his cool and his distance.
An alcoholic, Wilson abused government privileges to travel the world first class with former beauty queens who had earned such titles as Miss Sea and Ski and Miss Humble Oil. Almost accidentally (he preferred to think of it as destiny), Wilson had become enthralled by the mujahedin. Through a strange group of fervently anticommunist Texas socialites, Wilson traveled often to meet Zia and to visit the Khyber Pass overlooking Afghanistan. He had few Afghan contacts and knew very little about Afghan history or culture. He saw the mujahedin through the prism of his own whiskey-soaked romanticism, as noble savages fighting for freedom, as almost biblical figures. Wilson used his trips to the Afghan frontier in part to impress upon a succession of girlfriends how powerful he was. The former Miss Northern Hemisphere, also known as Snowflake, recalled a trip to Peshawar: It was “just very, very exciting to be in that room with those men with their huge white teeth,” and “it was very clandestine.”4 Beginning in 1984, Wilson began to force more money and more sophisticated weapons systems into the CIA’s classified Afghan budget, even when Langley wasn’t interested.
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
airport security, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Fall of the Berlin Wall, invisible hand, Khyber Pass, lone genius, Mahatma Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, rolodex, Silicon Valley, uranium enrichment, urban planning, Y2K, Yom Kippur War
“We were the first three Arabs to arrive there to participate in relief work,” Zawahiri claims. He spent four months in Pakistan, working for the Red Crescent Society, the Islamic arm of the International Red Cross. The name Peshawar derives from a Sanskrit word meaning “city of flowers,” which it may have been during its Buddhist period, but it had long since sloughed off any refinement. The city sits at the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, the historic concourse of invading armies since the days of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, who left their genetic traces on the features of the diverse population. Peshawar was an important outpost of the British Empire, the last stop before a wilderness that stretched all the way to Moscow. When the British abandoned their cantonment in 1947, Peshawar was reduced to being a modest but unruly farming town.
Some had arrived with nothing in their pockets but a telephone number. Thanks to bin Laden’s generous subsidy, many of them settled in the suburb of Hayatabad, a neighborhood of two-story tract houses at the edge of the Tribal Areas, provided with all the modern conveniences—refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, and so on. Indeed, many of them lived more comfortably than bin Laden. Across the Khyber Pass was the war. The young Arabs who came to Peshawar prayed that their crossing would lead them to martyrdom and Paradise. As they passed the time, they traded legends about themselves, about the call that had drawn young Muslims to free their brothers in Afghanistan. In fact the war was being fought almost entirely by the Afghans themselves. Despite Azzam’s famous fatwa and bin Laden’s subsidies, there were never more than three thousand of these outsiders—who came to be known as the Arab Afghans—in the war against the Soviets, and most of them never got out of Peshawar.
Although it would take another three bloody years for the Soviets to finally extricate themselves, the presence of several thousand Arabs—and rarely more than a few hundred of them actually on the field of battle—made no real difference in the tide of affairs. Arms shipments poured into the port of Karachi. The ISI, which divvied the weapons among the Afghan commanders, needed a repository, preferably outside of Pakistan but not within the grasp of the Soviets. There is a distinctive portion of the Tribal Areas that juts into Afghanistan along a range of mountains southwest of the Khyber Pass known as the Parrot’s Beak. The northern slope of the Parrot’s Beak is called Tora Bora. The name means “black dust.” Remote and barren, the place is rich in caves made of super-hard quartz and feldspar. Bin Laden expanded the caverns and constructed new ones to serve as armories. It was here, in the warren of ammunition caves that he built for the mujahideen, that bin Laden would one day make his stand against America.
Toast by Stross, Charles
anthropic principle, Buckminster Fuller, cosmological principle, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Extropian, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, glass ceiling, gravity well, Khyber Pass, Mars Rover, Mikhail Gorbachev, NP-complete, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, performance metric, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, slashdot, speech recognition, strong AI, traveling salesman, Turing test, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, Y2K
This, despite the residents of the community being armed with DShK heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenade launchers, and AK-47’s. Lastly: there is no sign of the causative agent even deviating from its course, but the entire area is depopulated. Except for excarnated residue there is no sign of human habitation. In the presence of such unique indicators, we have no alternative but to conclude that the Soviet Union has violated the Dresden Agreement by deploying GOLD JULY BOOJUM in a combat mode in the Khyber Pass. There are no grounds to believe that a NATO armoured division would have fared any better than these mujahedin without nuclear support . . . Puzzle Palace Roger isn’t a soldier. He’s not much of a patriot, either: he signed up with the CIA after college, in the aftermath of the Church Commission hearings in the early seventies. The Company was out of the assassination business, just a bureaucratic engine rolling out National Security assessments: that’s fine by Roger.
Whole villages disappeared, Marsh Arabs, wiped out in the swamps of Eastern Iraq. Reports of yellow rain, people’s skin melting right off their bones. The Iranians got itchy and finally went nuclear. Trouble is, they did so two hours before that speech. Some asshole in Plotsk launched half the Uralskoye SS-20 grid—they went to launch on warning eight months ago—burning south, praise Jesus. Scratch the middle east, period—everything from the Nile to the Khyber Pass is toast. We’re still waiting for the callback on Moscow, but SAC has put the whole Peacemaker force on airborn alert. So far we’ve lost the eastern seaboard as far south as North Virginia and they’ve lost the Donbass basin and Vladivostok. Things are a mess; nobody can even agree whether we’re fighting the commies or something else. But the box at Chernobyl—Project Koschei—the doors are open, Roger.
Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order by Parag Khanna
Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, complexity theory, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, energy security, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, flex fuel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global supply chain, haute couture, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Islamic Golden Age, Khyber Pass, knowledge economy, land reform, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, Monroe Doctrine, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open borders, open economy, Pax Mongolica, pirate software, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Potemkin village, price stability, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, special economic zone, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Thomas L Friedman, trade route, trickle-down economics, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce
“It could start as soon as Afghanistan’s army becomes fully functional and NATO countries, including the U.S., downsize their presence.” South of the Hindu Kush, the Durand Line, which nominally divides Afghanistan and Pakistan, remains an imaginary boundary, as evidenced by the flow of weapons northward and the flight of Afghan refugees southward during the anti-Soviet insurgency. The two countries have been linked by the Khyber Pass through centuries of conquest dating back to Alexander the Great. Smuggling and trade remain synonymous over the Khyber Pass, where today a constant stream of trucks carrying cement and fruit snakes up and down its narrow passages to Afghanistan—a supply channel that will remain necessary for decades. Pakistan is still home to approximately two million Afghans, who over the past thirty years have turned once-leafy Peshawar into a roiling, overcrowded dump of rubbish-clogged streams.
Half-baked “Peace Jirgas” to unite the tribes on either side of the border under the banner of counterterrorism only expose the futility of American, Afghan, and Pakistani government efforts to tame the tribal frontier through schemes that none of them has the competence to implement. Under intense Western pressure, Pakistan is effectively at war with itself. As far back as the fifth century B.C., Buddhist sanctuaries with marvelous stone stupas such as Taxila thrived in northern Pakistan. Today, halfway between Peshawar, at the base of the Khyber Pass, and the tidy, lattice-grid capital of Islamabad, the tribal areas feature law by jirga (tribal elder councils), and blood feuds reign. “By funding the madrasahs, the Saudi government has had more influence here than our own government, which has let the schools and homes crumble,” pointed out a chauffeur who has been shuttling between the two cities for twenty years. Even in Islamabad, the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) had long been the focal point of the city’s creeping “Talibanization” until its near-total destruction in a military raid in 2007.
The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
Over and over he cried these words out into the world of light, and even the words were shards of light bursting out of his mouth. The tomb became a thing of pure white light, glowing in the cool green light of the trees, the trees of green light, and the fountain poured its water of light up into the lit air, and the walls of the courtyard were bricks of light, and everything was light, pulsing lightly. He could see through the Earth, and back through time, over a Khyber Pass made of slabs of yellow light, back to the time of his birth, in the tenth day of Moharram, the day when the Imam Hosain, the only living grandson of Mohammed, had died defending the faith, and he saw that whether or not Akbar had him killed he would live on, for he had lived before many times, and was not going to be done when this life ended. 'Why should I be afraid? When did I ever lose by dying?'
Now when they camped at night they met no one at all, but bedded down in tents or under the stars, sleeping to the sound of the wind in the trees, and the clattering brooks, and the shifting horses against their harness lines. Eventually the road wound up among rocks, a flat way leading through a rockbound pass, then across a mountain meadow among the peaks, then up through another tight pass, flanked by granite battlements; and then down at last. Compared to the Khyber Pass it was not much of a struggle, Bistami thought, but many in the caravan were shivering and afraid. On the other side of the pass, rockslides had buried the old road repeatedly, and each time the road became a mere foot trail, switchbacking at sharp angles across the rockslides. These were hard going, and the Sultana often got off her horse and walked, leading her women with no tolerance for ineptitude or complaint.
Many decided to return to Frengistan, which though full of petty taifa conflict, was at least Muslim entire, its little khanates and emirates and sultanates trading between themselves most of the time, even when fighting. Such decisions as these would soon cripple Samarqand. As an endpoint in itself it was nothing, the mere edge of Dar al Islam. Nadir was worried, and the Khan in a rage. Sayyed Abdul Aziz ordered the Dzungarian Gate retaken, and an expedition sent to help defend the Khyber Pass, so that trade relations with India at the least would remain secure. Nadir, accompanied by a heavy guard, described these orders very briefly to Khalid and Iwang. He presented the problem as if it were somehow Khalid's fault. At the end of his visit, he informed them that Bahram and his wife and children were to return with Nadir to the Khanaka in Bokhara. They would be allowed to return to Samarqand only when Khalid and Iwang devised a weapon capable of defeating the Chinese.
Albert Einstein, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, British Empire, call centre, clean water, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, friendly fire, Howard Zinn, IFF: identification friend or foe, invisible hand, Islamic Golden Age, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, music of the spheres, Ronald Reagan, the market place, Thomas L Friedman, Transnistria, unemployed young men, uranium enrichment, Yom Kippur War
I pulled out my map of Afghanistan, green and yellow to the west where the deserts imprison Kandahar, brown in the centre as the mountains shoulder their way towards Kabul, a big purple-and-white bruise to the north-east where the Hindu Kush separates Pakistan, India, China and the Soviet Union. The border between British India and Afghanistan was finally laid across the tribal lands in 1893, from the Khyber Pass, south-west to the desert town of Chaman (now in Pakistan), a dustbowl frontier post at the base of a great desert of sand and grey mountains a hundred kilometres from Kandahar. These “lines in the sand,” of course, were set down by Sir Mortimer Durand and recognised by the great powers. For the people living on each side of the lines, who were typically given no say in the matter, the borders were meaningless.
The bedrooms were warm and the balconies a spy’s delight; from mine, Room 127, I could look out across all of Kabul, at the ancient Bala Hissar fort—one of the fictional Tom Graham’s last battles was fought there—and the airport. I could count the Soviet jets taking off into the afternoon sun and the explosions echoing down from the Hindu Kush and then the aircraft again as they glided back down to the runways. In wars, I only travel with those I trust. Reporters who panic don’t get second chances. Conor O’Clery of the Irish Times had talked his way up from the Khyber Pass through Jalalabad. He was already in the old telecommunications office down town, watching with an evil glint in his eye as the operator soldered the letter “w” back onto its iron stem inside the telex machine. Gavin Hewitt, a twenty-nine-year-old BBC television reporter, arrived with Steve Morris and Mike Viney, the smartest crew I’ve ever worked with, and a battered camera—these were the days of real film with its wonderful colour definition, now lost to the technology of videotape—and Geoff Hale.
And beside the highway, the Afghan men watched, their faces tight against the cold, their eyes taking in every detail of every vehicle. They looked on without emotion as the wind tugged at their orange and green shawls and gowns. The snow spread across the road and drifted at their feet. It was two degrees below zero but they had come out to watch the Soviet army convoy hum past on the great road east to the Khyber Pass. The Russian crews, their fur hats pulled down low over their foreheads, glanced down at the Afghans and smiled occasionally as their carriers splashed through the slush and ice on the mud-packed road. A kilometre further on, Soviet military police in canvas-topped jeeps waved them into a larger convoy in which more tanks and tracked armour on transporter lorries raced along the Jalalabad highway.
agricultural Revolution, airport security, Anton Chekhov, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial exploitation, complexity theory, computer age, crony capitalism, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Eratosthenes, European colonialism, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global village, illegal immigration, Internet Archive, John Snow's cholera map, Khyber Pass, manufacturing employment, megacity, Mercator projection, out of africa, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, special economic zone, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, UNCLOS, UNCLOS
Chief among them was Usama bin Laden, who would soon begin plotting the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. The physiography of Afghanistan and the country's relative location made it a receptive locale for such purposes. Nearly the size of Texas, compact in shape except the protrusion of land called the Vakhan Corridor extending eastward to touch China, mountainous in the center with countless valleys and steep-walled, strategic passes among which the Khyber Pass is the most crucial, and wedged between Shi'ite Iran to the west and Sunni Pakistan to the east, Afghanistan is the very definition of remoteness, isolation, and fragmentation (Fig. 8-1). In the east, rugged, forested terrain marks the border area with Pakistan, and in this cave-riddled topography Usama bin Laden was able to escape his pursuers, making his way (in all probability) across the border from Tora Bora and hiding on the rugged, wild, culturally closed Pakistani side.
Even the main "highway" between the national TERRORISM'S WIDENING CIRCLE 159 capital Kabul and the "southern capital" Kandahar was a potholed stretch of gravel along which robbers lay in wait. If we had a map of traffic flows in Afghanistan, we would find that more movement took place between Afghanistan's periphery and neighboring countries, for example from Herat to Iran and from Mazar-e-Sharif to Uzbekistan, than within Afghanistan itself (the heavily used Khyber Pass and other eastern passes to Pakistan would confirm this). Most of the four-fifths of the population living in the rural areas subsisted on unreliable food crops or opium-poppy cultivation. A few valleys, such as the Panjshir in the northeast, were well watered and had soils that could be depended on to yield good annual harvests, but the majority of farmers lived a difficult life of uncertain subsistence.
In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan by Seth G. Jones
business climate, clean water, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, failed state, friendly fire, invisible hand, Khyber Pass, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murray Gell-Mann, open borders, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, trade route
The Pashtun tribes that controlled this region had resisted colonial rule with a determination virtually unparalleled in the subcontinent. The tribes were granted maximum autonomy and allowed to run their affairs in accordance with their Islamic faith, customs, and traditions. Tribal elders, known as maliks, were given special favors by the British in return for maintaining peace, keeping open important roads such as the Khyber Pass, and apprehending criminals. After partition in 1947, Pakistan continued this system of local autonomy and special favors. FIGURE 6.2 Pakistan’s Tribal Agencies Courtesy of RAND Corporation Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, laid the foundation for this independence in remarks to a tribal jirga in Peshawar in 1948: “Keeping in view your loyalty, help, assurance and declarations we ordered, as you know, the withdrawal of troops from Waziristan as a concrete and definite gesture on our part….
Several dirt roads snake through the area, but virtually none are paved. The landscape is strangely reminiscent of Frederic Remington or C. M. Russell’s paintings of the American West. Gritty layers of dust sap the life from a parched landscape. Shkin lies just south of the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s “Ballad of the King’s Jest,” which notes: When spring-time flushes the desert grass, Our kafilas wind through the Khyber Pass. Lean are the camels but fat the frails, Light are the purses but heavy the bales, As the snowbound trade of the North comes down To the market-square of Peshawur town.1 There was an Afghan National Army observation post in Shkin. Four miles away was a U.S. firebase, which that night housed fewer than a dozen Americans, including two U.S. Marines and a handful of CIA personnel. It looked like a Wild West cavalry fort, ringed with coils of razor wire.
Armed Humanitarians by Nathan Hodge
Andrei Shleifer, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, European colonialism, failed state, friendly fire, IFF: identification friend or foe, Khyber Pass, kremlinology, land reform, Mikhail Gorbachev, Potemkin village, private military company, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, walking around money
Everyone seemed to be staring. She was uncomfortable, and her headscarf kept slipping off, but she didn’t want to show any fear. She kept her composure, and the meetings, about an electrification project and a government proposal to move the border post, went without a hitch. On the ride back to Jalalabad, she reviewed her first day on the job: the insane helicopter ride from Kabul, the gorgeous ride down to the Khyber Pass. Not a bad first day of work. She was hooked. Parker was a natural for the role: As a woman she felt no peer pressure, no need to fit in with the “band of brothers” culture of the military. She would never be part of the boys’ club. For her, as a strong, independent woman, living alone on a military base, it was liberating to be outside the group. There was no need to pander. She could do her job without feeling as though she had to toe the military’s line.
One of the more ambitious road projects begun in the summer of 2009 was the Parwan-to-Bamyan road, a major project for the north of Afghanistan that would link the isolated highland province of Bamyan with the rest of Afghanistan, and help create an alternative northern transportation route for the country. It was of strategic importance as well. The main highway linking Afghanistan to the southern ports of Pakistan passed through the vulnerable Khyber Pass, and supply convoys passing through Pakistan had come under increased attack by militants. Bamyan Province was home to the Hazaras, Afghanistan’s most oppressed and downtrodden minority group, most of them Shia Muslims. Subjugated by the country’s Pashtun rulers and relegated to manual labor, they often worked as housemaids or night watchmen in Kabul. In their home province, they scratched out a living from subsistence farming.
Wireless by Stross, Charles
anthropic principle, back-to-the-land, Benoit Mandelbrot, Buckminster Fuller, Cepheid variable, cognitive dissonance, colonial exploitation, cosmic microwave background, epigenetics, finite state, Georg Cantor, gravity well, hive mind, jitney, Khyber Pass, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, peak oil, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, security theater, sensible shoes, Turing machine
This, despite the residents of the community being armed with DShK heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and AK-47s. Lastly: there is no sign of the causative agent even deviating from its course, but the entire area is depopulated. Except for excarnated residue, there is no sign of human habitation. In the presence of such unique indicators, we have no alternative but to conclude that the Soviet Union has violated the Dresden Agreement by deploying GOLD JULY BOOJUM in a combat mode in the Khyber Pass. There are no grounds to believe that a NATO armored division would have fared any better than these mujahedin without nuclear support . . . PUZZLE PALACE Roger isn’t a soldier. He’s not much of a patriot, either: he signed up with the CIA after college, in the aftermath of the Church Commission hearings in the early seventies. The Company was out of the assassination business, just a bureaucratic engine rolling out National Security assessments: that’s fine by Roger.
Whole villages disappeared, marsh Arabs, wiped out in the swamps of eastern Iraq. Reports of yellow rain, people’s skin melting right off their bones. The Iranians got itchy and finally went nuclear. Trouble is, they did so two hours before that speech. Some asshole in Plotsk launched half the Uralskaye SS-20 grid—they went to launch on warning eight months ago—burning south, praise Jesus. Scratch the Middle East, period—everything from the Nile to the Khyber Pass is toast. We’re still waiting for the callback on Moscow, but SAC has put the whole Peacemaker force on airborne alert. So far we’ve lost the Eastern Seaboard as far south as northern Virginia, and they’ve lost the Donbass Basin and Vladivostok. Things are a mess; nobody can even agree whether we’re fighting the commies or something else. But the box at Chernobyl—Project Koschei—the doors are open, Roger.
The Fracture Zone: My Return to the Balkans by Simon Winchester
However, about an hour out of London, as we were speeding southeastward along the M2 in Kent, Albert suddenly glimpsed the towers of Canterbury Cathedral going past in a blur on the left, and asked, in what I thought an unnecessarily querulous tone, why we weren’t stopping to have a look? I replied, with what was probably some asperity, to the effect that I was in no mood for tourism, that I was in a hurry, and that I wanted to catch the ferry and make Mons that night—for the simple reason that I planned to make India well before the middle of September. I knew that the roads in the Punjab would be tricky with postmonsoon mud; I planned to be at the Khyber Pass in three weeks’ time. Albert grunted. This was not, he muttered, going to be the pleasure trip he had imagined. It was much the same the next day in Germany, as we sped past the twin spires of Cologne Cathedral, and then again as a succession of ever prettier Bavarian villages vanished in the rearview mirror. Albert was sulking in the backseat, his mood becoming ever blacker. But I didn’t care: I now had the bit between my teeth, and though the car was going well, the roads were said to be treacherous all through Afghanistan and there might well be delays.
Yet on 19 April the new ruler went on to assert his complete independence in external as well as internal affairs. Amanullah secretly planned an attack on British India—through the Khyber Pass—that was to coincide with an Indian nationalist uprising in Peshawar, the principal British garrison town near the frontier.2 Amanullah believed that a nationwide Indian uprising would then occur. Amanullah's army commander moved too soon, however, before the Peshawar uprising could be organized, and unwittingly alerted the British to their danger. On 3 May 1919 a detachment of Afghan troops crossed the frontier into British India at the top of the Khyber Pass. They seized control of a border village and a pumping station controlling the water supply to a nearby Indian military post. On 5 May the Governor-General of India telegraphed to London that it looked as though a war—the Third Afghan War—had started.
This Sceptred Isle by Christopher Lee
agricultural Revolution, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial rule, Corn Laws, cuban missile crisis, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, failed state, financial independence, glass ceiling, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, new economy, Northern Rock, Ronald Reagan, spice trade, spinning jenny, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, urban decay
The three Afghan Wars (1838–42, 1878–81, 1919–1921) were examples of hopeless expectation and even imperial arrogance that were inevitable in a period when, through commitment and necessity, the British believed their superior form of warfare more than capable of imposing their authority. In this assumption, the British were wrong. For example, in the first war, only one soldier of some 16,000 troops and followers who had retreated from the capital Kabul managed to get across the Khyber Pass and home into India. The lessons of those wars was hardly heeded in 2001. Just as an interest in the poppy crop played a part in the twenty-first-century Afghan war, so it did in Victoria’s early reign. A district commissioner observed that if the locals could be encouraged to grow poppies they could raise revenue and so pay taxes desperately needed by the British. As for the poppies, they could be converted to opium and sold to the Chinese, even if the Chinese did not want the British merchants to trade the cargo in China, a nation-state already damaged by the effects of opium.
Akbar Khan promised the British that they would be able to withdraw from Afghanistan in all safety. Who would have trusted this Afghan murderer? Major General William Elphinstone was the commander who surrendered the garrison. He died almost immediately. Some 16,500 people, made up of Indian troops, British troops, wives and children, filed out of the Kabul garrison, surely with little faith in Akbar Khan’s promise of safe conduct to India. The Afghans massacred most of them on the Khyber Pass road on 13 January 1842. A very few were taken prisoner and thrown into prison at Kabul. All that was left of the British presence in Afghanistan was the garrison at Kandahar and that at Jalalabad, both under siege. General Sir George Pollock (1786–1872) was the man designated to rescue the three pockets of British survivors and their followers at Jalalabad, Kandahar and Kabul. Pollock had joined the East India Company’s army at the age of seventeen.
Atrocity Archives by Stross, Charles
airport security, anthropic principle, Berlin Wall, brain emulation, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, defense in depth, disintermediation, experimental subject, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, hypertext link, Khyber Pass, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, NP-complete, the medium is the message, Y2K, yield curve
"Once we've inserted the initiator, dialled a yield, armed the detonators, punched in the permissive action codes, set the timer, then removed the control wires, nothing's going to stop it. Can't even open it up: someone messes with the tamper piece, it calls 'tilt' and the game's over. Y'see, we might be a Soviet Guards Motor Rifle formation that's just captured the bridge it's strapped to. Or a bunch of uglies from the backwoods behind the Khyber Pass. So, as you can understand, even conceding that letting it blow here and now might be a very bad idea, it's going to go. Unless you fancy trying your hand at dissecting a booby-trapped, ticking H-bomb, and I don't recall seeing UXB training on your rÃ©sumÃ©." He glances at his watch. "Only another fifty-seven minutes to go, lad. We can probably make it to the gate if we leave in less than half an hour, as long as there aren't too many of the blighters left outside--so I'd hurry up if I was you."
The Places in Between by Rory Stewart
One of them, Mel, had become particularly devoted to Babur and spent much of each day stroking, grooming, or feeding him. After a lifetime of bread, Babur was now eating meat three times a day. He spent most of his time asleep in the garden, shaded by the vines or the mulberry trees. For an almost wild dog, he seemed to adjust quickly to domestic life. Babur and I left by car two days later, following the Kabul River through the Khyber Pass to Pakistan. The car was small, and Babur and I shared the front passenger seat, his hindquarters between my legs, his paws on my shoulder, and his dribble on my sweater. He was terrified of cars, having never seen them in his village, and he dribbled a great deal. In Pakistan, I arranged Babur's vaccinations, his vet's certificates, his enormous kennel, and his seat on the plane to Britain.
Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi by Steve Inskeep
battle of ideas, British Empire, call centre, Edward Glaeser, European colonialism, illegal immigration, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Khyber Pass, Kibera, knowledge economy, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, megacity, new economy, New Urbanism, urban planning, urban renewal
Of his home province in the far northwest, Nader said simply, “There are no job opportunities and salaries are so low.” His father and brothers had moved to Karachi long ago to find work and a better life. Then Nader came to Karachi to attend a wedding, and met a girl so attractive that he proposed to her. “Love marriage,” he told me in English, meaning it was not an arranged marriage. He’d come to the city on a train called the Khyber Mail, which rolled down from the mountains near the Khyber Pass from Afghanistan. Nader would hear that train arrive in Karachi many times in the years ahead, because he lived with his bride in an unauthorized settlement by the railroad tracks. Nader applied for a job with the Edhi Foundation, which hired him as an ambulance driver. We first met at the Edhi dispatch office on Jinnah Road; we sat inside, seeking shade on a blistering day. Nader told me that it took time to get used to the job.
The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community by Marc J. Dunkelman
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Broken windows theory, call centre, clean water, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, David Brooks, delayed gratification, double helix, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, global supply chain, global village, helicopter parent, if you build it, they will come, impulse control, income inequality, invention of movable type, Jane Jacobs, Khyber Pass, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Nate Silver, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Richard Florida, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban decay, urban planning, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, World Values Survey
The number of subcontractors has exploded as people want to hire experts rather than jacks-of-all-trades.9 In academia, generalists are increasingly rare, and scholarly specialization has become the new norm.10 The growth of the service economy has only served to drive the same trend, with firms likely to rent specialized services, often “consultants” assigned to a specific job, rather than bring experts on staff full-time.11 Thus, businesses are harnessing the laws of competitive advantage: because work can easily be transferred from one office to another, and from one factory floor to another across the globe, those who do particular tasks best are doing those tasks exclusively. In the early 1970s, my father did something crazy by today’s standards: he hitchhiked around the world. He was in his mid-twenties, the economy was sluggish at home, and so he set off on a freighter across the Atlantic, became a chicken farmer on an Israeli kibbutz, and eventually made his way across the Khyber Pass into Pakistan. For years, my sister and I were plied with stories from that journey, and with the tidbits of wisdom Dad had gathered at each stop along the way. The legacy of that trip spurred the inevitable: like every kid who looks up to his father, I announced one night to my parents at some point in middle school that when I came of age, I too would hitchhike around the globe. But to my surprise, far from cheering my determination, my mother’s face drained of color.
agricultural Revolution, British Empire, Climatic Research Unit, colonial rule, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Defenestration of Prague, Edmond Halley, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, failed state, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, friendly fire, Google Earth, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Khyber Pass, Mercator projection, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, Republic of Letters, South China Sea, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, unemployed young men, University of East Anglia, World Values Survey
Afghanistan: The Perpetual Battleground The Mughals prided themselves on their direct descent from both Chinggis Khan and Timur (Tamerlane), and their official chronicles frequently noted plans to recapture Central Asia, their ancestral home; but only Shah Jahan attempted to achieve this goal. According to his historians, ‘the mighty soul of the world-subduing monarch had been bent upon’ conquering the lands ‘which were properly his hereditary domains’ ever since ‘the time of the last emperor Jahangir's death’ in 1627. Twelve years later, Mughal troops seized Qandahar in southern Afghanistan from its Safavid defenders, and the emperor and a massive entourage crossed the Khyber Pass for the first time. They spent the summer at Kabul while they prepared to conquer the lands beyond, ‘which were once included in the kingdom of his imperial ancestors’, but the Uzbeks, who had occupied the Mughal ‘homeland’ ever since expelling Shah Jahan's ancestors more than a century before, mounted such an effective defence that the emperor's ‘mighty soul’ decided to return to India.19 Then a succession dispute arose between two Uzbek rulers, one of whom appealed for Mughal assistance.
In spring 1646 Shah Jahan therefore returned to Kabul, whence a Mughal army at last crossed the Hindu Kush and occupied the fertile alluvial plain around the great trading city of Balkh. When news of this success reached the emperor, still at Kabul, he hosted a party that lasted eight days and wrote a boastful letter to the shah of Iran predicting that his troops would soon also take Timur's former capital, Samarkand. Admittedly, Shah Jahan had much to boast about. His armies had overcome remarkable logistical obstacles in crossing the Khyber Pass (3,000 feet above sea level) to Kabul, more than 800 miles from the Mughal capital, and in advancing a further 200 miles over the Salang Pass (almost 12,000 feet above sea level) to Balkh. His expeditionary force was probably the largest ever to enter the region before the Soviet invasion of 1979. Nevertheless, even at the best of times, Afghanistan lacked both the crop surpluses and the credit networks required to feed a large slow-moving army like that of Shah Jahan – and the Little Ice Age was far from the best of times.
The Central Asian ‘wolves’ now closed in and captured large numbers of Indian ‘slave sheep’ as they retreated. Many of them did eventually see Samarkand, but as slaves: prisoners from the Mughal army were so numerous that the price of Indians in the slave markets of Central Asia fell by two-thirds. It took Aurangzeb and the survivors a month to regain Kabul, arriving just in time to accompany the emperor back across the Khyber Pass.21 The Mughals’ spectacular failure encouraged Shah Abbas II of Iran to demand the return of Qandahar and, when no satisfactory answer came, in 1649 his forces recaptured the city. Shah Jahan promptly returned to Kabul, but even his official chronicler noted that at the siege of Qandahar the Mughals had brought ‘with them neither a siege train of battering guns, nor skilled artillerymen’. Therefore, when ‘grain and fodder were beginning to get scarce’ after 14 weeks, the emperor recognized that ‘the reduction of the fortress without the aid of heavy guns was impracticable’ and withdrew his troops.
Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas by John S. Burnett
British Empire, cable laying ship, Dava Sobel, defense in depth, Exxon Valdez, Filipino sailors, illegal immigration, Khyber Pass, Malacca Straits, North Sea oil, South China Sea, transcontinental railway, UNCLOS, UNCLOS
I copy that. The VLCC is going to cross my stern.” The pilot enters the lighted chartroom behind the bridge; he is a big man, a Singapore Indian, clad in a white safari jacket, white slacks, white shoes, and white gloves, carrying a black computer bag. He has a great white Tartar mustache and goatee, and curly silver hair rests upon his shoulders. He looks like he should be sweeping down the Khyber Pass on horseback, swinging a saber. On the darkened bridge he begins directing the flight across the busy shipping lane. “All stop!” His hand flies up with the conviction of a baseball umpire calling a runner out at the plate; we are slowing down to let the container ship pass. “Port ten,” he says, throwing his hand out to the left. He has flair. “Aye, port ten, sir.” We start the crossing just before the Singapore Bay is abreast of us, aiming at its midships.
Berlin Wall, California gold rush, cuban missile crisis, facts on the ground, failed state, indoor plumbing, Khyber Pass, megastructure, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil rush, Potemkin village, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, telemarketer, trade route
As for Heslin, he wrote, she was “Amoco’s ambassador to the NSC,” whose “sole job, it seemed, was to carry water for an exclusive club known as the Foreign Oil Companies Group, a cover for a cartel of major petroleum companies doing business in the Caspian.” The last urgent days of the Early Oil saga played out in Azerbaijan. They began quietly enough, with the arrival in Baku of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who, as President Carter’s national security advisor, had famously ridden up Pakistan’s Khyber Pass and aimed a rifle at imagined Soviet troops. Brzezinski had since established his credentials as a balanced and serious thinker on Russia’s role in its Near Abroad, and President Aliyev saw in him a kindred spirit. Now Brzezinski was on Amoco’s payroll, representing its humanitarian efforts in Azerbaijan and Armenia. But he also was carrying a letter from Bill Clinton, reiterating the American president’s telephoned support for the dual pipelines.
The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux
'It is an old useless train. It is worth nothing.' 'Right,' I said. The Indians nodded. It gladdened me to know that these people recognized that the train was a piece of junk. I had thought, from their silence, that they had not noticed. There were more bridges, more gorges filled with cloud and fog, but none was so frightening as that first one. And yet this part of the trip reminded me of the route through the Khyber Pass taken by the battered train to Peshawar. It was more than the view from a similarly beat-up car of rocky mountainsides; it was the sight of a dozen sections of track - ahead, across the valley, and one beneath that, and one over there, and another lying parallel, and more above and below all the way to the valley floor. Not a dozen railways, but pieces of the one we were on, sections that would lead this wheezing engine around four mountains to a descent, another bridge, another climb to the winding sections that ringed those far-off cliffs.
Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna
1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, 9 dash line, additive manufacturing, Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Boycotts of Israel, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, British Empire, business intelligence, call centre, capital controls, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, data is the new oil, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, diversification, Doha Development Round, edge city, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, energy security, ethereum blockchain, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Ferguson, Missouri, financial innovation, financial repression, forward guidance, global supply chain, global value chain, global village, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, Hyperloop, ice-free Arctic, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, informal economy, Infrastructure as a Service, interest rate swap, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, Khyber Pass, Kibera, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, LNG terminal, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, mass affluent, megacity, Mercator projection, microcredit, mittelstand, Monroe Doctrine, mutually assured destruction, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, openstreetmap, out of africa, Panamax, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-oil, post-Panamax, private military company, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, TaskRabbit, telepresence, the built environment, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transaction costs, UNCLOS, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, WikiLeaks, young professional, zero day
Flows become the solution to problems that frictions alone don’t solve. THE NEW GRAND TRUNK ROAD TO PAX INDICA The Grand Trunk Road is no longer the world’s most majestic road trip. The portion from Kabul to Jalalabad, while now a paved section of Afghanistan’s new highway system, has endured more than a decade of suicide bombers attacking NATO convoys. Heading east from Jalalabad through the spectacular Khyber Pass, one enters Pakistan’s restive tribal areas, where the government is struggling to build roads, power lines, and irrigation canals in a landscape beset by feudal rulers and Taliban insurgents. Another day of driving past the capital, Islamabad, and four hundred kilometers south to the cultural hub of Lahore brings you to the heavily armed Indian border at Wagah, famous for its goose-stepping daily flag-lowering ceremony.
A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World by William J. Bernstein
Admiral Zheng, asset allocation, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, British Empire, call centre, clean water, Columbian Exchange, Corn Laws, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, domestication of the camel, double entry bookkeeping, Eratosthenes, financial innovation, Gini coefficient, ice-free Arctic, imperial preference, income inequality, intermodal, James Hargreaves, John Harrison: Longitude, Khyber Pass, low skilled workers, non-tariff barriers, placebo effect, Port of Oakland, refrigerator car, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, working poor
It was costly enough in China; in Rome, it was yet a hundred times costlier-worth its weight in gold, so expensive that even a few ounces might consume a year of an average man's wages.5 Only the wealthiest, such as Emperor Elagabalus, could afford an entire toga made from it. The other way to Rome, the famous Silk Road, first opened up by Han emissaries in the second century of the Christian era, bumped slowly overland through central Asia. This route was far more complex, and its precise track varied widely with shifting political and military conditions, from well south of the Khyber Pass to as far north as the southern border of Siberia. Just as the sea route was dominated by Greek, Ethiopian, and Indian traders, so would be the overland "ports," the great cities of Samarkand (in present-day Uzbekistan), Isfahan (in Iran), and Herat (in Afghanistan), richly served by Jewish, Armenian, and Syrian middlemen. Who, then, could blame the Romans for thinking that silk was manufactured in two different nations-a northern one, Seres, reached by the dry route; and a southern one, Sinae, reached by water?
The Forever War by Dexter Filkins
Talking to Wali that day, and Mohammedi and the other Talibs, it seemed obvious enough that what lay at the foundation of the Taliban’s rule was fear, but not fear of the Taliban themselves, at least not in the beginning. No: it was fear of the past. Fear that the past would return, that it would come back in all its disaggregated fury. That the past would become the future. The beards, the burqas, the whips, the stones; anything, anything you want. Anything but the past. AT THE KHYBER PASS, I flagged down a crumpled white Lada from another age. A driver named Javed, wearing a hajj cap but no turban, took off, driving into the craters, mountains staring down. At the checkpoint, the Talibs poked and pawed and waved us through. Soon Javed tossed his hajj cap onto the dash, reached under the seat and found a cassette. He removed the tape already in the player, koranic readings, slipped in the new one and turned up the volume.
Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World by Niall Ferguson
British Empire, Cape to Cairo, colonial rule, Corn Laws, European colonialism, imperial preference, income per capita, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, land reform, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, Mahatma Gandhi, night-watchman state, profit motive, Scramble for Africa, spice trade, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, union organizing
From 1879, the date of the second British attempt to invade and control Afghanistan, until the third attempt in 1919, Britain and Russia conducted the world’s first Cold War along the North-West Frontier. But the spies in this Cold War were surveyors, for whoever mapped the frontier first stood a good chance of controlling it. The Great Survey of India thus became inextricably bound up with espionage: what one of the early British frontiersmen called the ‘Great Game’. At times it really did seem like a game. British agents ventured into the uncharted territory beyond Kashmir and the Khyber Pass disguised as Buddhist monks, measuring the distances between places with the aid of worry-beads – one bead for every hundred paces – and concealing the maps they surreptitiously drew in their prayer wheels.* But this was a deadly game played in a no man’s land where the only rule was the merciless Pakhtun or ‘Pathan’ code of honour: hospitality to the stranger, but a cut throat and an interminable vendetta against all his kin if he transgressed.
Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire by Simon Winchester
borderless world, British Empire, colonial rule, Corn Laws, Edmond Halley, European colonialism, illegal immigration, Khyber Pass, laissez-faire capitalism, offshore financial centre, sensible shoes, South China Sea, special economic zone, the market place
It is a frantically busy place, with factories and tower blocks and hotels (most of them paid for by wealthy Hong Kong investors) rising out of the paddy fields, and restaurants jammed solid with a new Chinese élite who are making money on a scale of which Mao would never have dreamed. And then, dark on a distant hill, the first sign of a familiar Empire: the square and battlemented outline of a fort. I had seen such things on the brown ridges above the Khyber Pass, and in the Malakand Hills near Swat. Both there, and here, they looked as if they belonged on a film set for Beau Geste: they are called Mackenzie Forts, after the Bengal Governor who designed them. Elsewhere in the world they are mere relics of a British Raj; they belong now to independent governments, who use them for training, or turn them into museums, or just allow them to fall into ruin.
“Yeah, and the ragtag Chechens just kicked that same army in the teeth because the Russians’ tactics and training and leadership suck. I don’t think the comparison with us stands up.” “Maybe not. I’m just saying we need to remember the history.” Patrick ran through a sketch of the foreign powers that had come to grief in Afghanistan’s mountains. “In 327 B.C., Alexander the Great comes through the Khyber Pass and gets hit by an Afghan archer’s arrow. He nearly dies. Almost a thousand years later, Genghis Khan imposes his will over this whole part of the world. Who are the only people to pry concessions from him? The Afghans. And then there’re the British. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tony Blair wants no part of this operation. They lost three fucking wars to these people.” Patrick flipped back through his sheaf of papers and held one up.
British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, discovery of the americas, distributed generation, Donner party, estate planning, Etonian, full employment, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, James Watt: steam engine, Khyber Pass, Menlo Park, Plutocrats, plutocrats, transcontinental railway, Works Progress Administration
A device was needed, it seemed to me, that would link the achievements thematically and give the story some greater degree of structure and logic. An idea came to me one morning when I was writing a letter to a friend in China. Beginning in the mid-1970s, I had lived for many years on the far side of the world and had spent much time tramping the territories between Vladivostok and Vietnam, between Manchuria and Malaysia, and between Kashmir and the Khyber Pass. All the countries of Asia—as well as the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean—had held for centuries a philosophical view that everything and everyone can be reduced to the barest essentials, the five so-called classical elements. While the ancient Greeks revered just four elements, most other civilizations, from India eastward, nominated five. The various eastern countries in their histories have made subtle variations in just what these five elements are, but those most commonly selected are wood, earth, water, fire, and metal.
The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama
Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, invention of agriculture, invention of the printing press, Khyber Pass, labour market flexibility, land reform, land tenure, means of production, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, principal–agent problem, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Scramble for Africa, spice trade, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, Washington Consensus
Although lineages remained important forms of social organization, there was an inverse correlation between the power of the state and the power of kinship groups: when one got stronger, the other got weaker. Ultimately, it was the state that decisively shaped Chinese civilization. In India, the new social categories of varna and jati formed the bedrock organization of society and severely limited the power of the state to penetrate and control it. Indian civilization, defined by varna and jati, spread all the way from the Khyber Pass to Southeast Asia and unified a diverse range of linguistic and ethnic groups. But this huge territory was never once ruled by a single political power and never developed a single literary language as China did. Indeed, the history of India before the late twentieth century is much more one of persistent political disunity and weakness, with some of the most successful unifiers being foreign invaders whose political power rested on a different social basis.
Necessary Illusions by Noam Chomsky
anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, centre right, collective bargaining, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, full employment, Howard Zinn, Khyber Pass, land reform, New Journalism, Ronald Reagan, strikebreaker, union organizing
Zbigniew Brzezinski writes that “it is scandalous that so much of the conventionally liberal community, always so ready to embrace victims of American or Israeli or any other unfashionable ’imperialism,’ is so reticent on the subject” of Afghanistan. Surely one might expect liberals in Congress or the press to desist from their ceaseless labors on behalf of the PLO and the guerrillas in El Salvador long enough to notice some Soviet crimes; perhaps they might even follow Brzezinski to the Khyber Pass to strike heroic poses there before a camera crew. Political scientist Robert Tucker writes that “numerous public figures in the West, even a number of Western governments [… have] encouraged the PLO in its maximalist course” of “winner-take-all,” that is, destruction of Israel; he too fails to cite names and references, for unsurprising reasons. One of the most audacious examples was a media triumph by journalist William Shawcross, who succeeded—easily, given the serviceability of the thought—in establishing the doctrine that there was relative silence in the West during the Pol Pot atrocities, when there was in fact a vast chorus of indignation, and that this silence was attributable to the formidable left-wing influence over media and governments that is so striking a feature of Western society.
Heaven's Command (Pax Britannica) by Jan Morris
British Empire, Cape to Cairo, centralized clearinghouse, Corn Laws, European colonialism, Fellow of the Royal Society, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, land reform, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, Magellanic Cloud, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Scramble for Africa, trade route
., 3 Kampala, Uganda, 1, 2 Kandahar, Afghanistan, 1 Kano, 1 Kanpur, see Cawnpore Karachi, 1, 2 Karagwe, 1 Karikari, Kofi, 1, 2, 3 Kashmir, 1 Katmandu, 1 Kavanagh, Henry, 1 Kaye, Sir John William, 1, 2n., 3, 4, 5, 6 Kazeh, 1 and n., 2 Keane, General, 1, 2 Kelat, Afghanistan, 1 Kenmare, Ireland, 1 Kennedy, John, 1 Kenya, 1 Kerefe, Sierra Leone, 1n. Kew Gardens, London, 1, 2 Khartoum, 1, 2 Khyber Pass, 1, 2 Kiepert, Dr, 1 Kilkenny, Ireland, 1, 2 Kilmainham Treaty, 1, 2 King, Dick, 1 Kingsley, Charles, 1 Kingston, Jamaica, 1, 2 Kipling, Rudyard, 1 Kirkwall, Lord, 1 Kitchener, Lord, 1, 2 Knibb, Rev. William, 1and n., 2 Knock Fryrish, Easter Ross, 1 Knollys, Henry, 1 Knutsford, Lord, 1 Knysna Heads, 1 Koh-i-Nor, 1, 2, 3 Kohl, Johan Georg, 1 Kruger, Paul, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Kumasi, Ashanti, 1, 2, 3, 4 Kurnaul, India, 1 Kythera, 1 Lachine, Canada, 1, 2, 3, 4 Laing’s Nek, Transvaal, 1 Lalor, Fintan, 1 Landor, Walter Savage, 1 Landseer, Sir Edwin, 1 Lanney, ‘King Bill’, 1 Launceston, Tasmania, 1 Lawrence, George, 1, 2, 3 Lawrence, Sir Henry, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Lawrence, John, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Lear, Edward, 1, 2, 3 Lesseps, Ferdinand de, 1, 2, 3 Levkas, 1, 2 Levuka, Fiji, 1 Liberia, 1 Libreville, 1 Lightfoot, Hannah, 1n.