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The cheaper man

By Ian Nance - posted Tuesday, 29 January 2019

In 1886 Rudyard Kipling stressed the cultural and economic aspects of clashes between West and East as he penned his notably apt poem, "Arithmetic On The Frontier".

A couple of stanzas from this relevant ode convey his opinions:

A scrimmage in a Border Station-
A canter down some dark defile-
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail.


He understood the futility of attempting to bring the attributes of educated British troops into play against financially poorer tribal Afghani fighters.

The same problems exist today with Western technology failing to be superior to basic improvisational skills of a country which has been steeped in conflict since around 500BC.

An aspect of war's evolution is that as firepower becomes more technically progressive, the intrinsic resourcefulness of those being targeted becomes more marked.

It's worth taking an historical snapshot of a region which is dominated by small tribal loyalties rather than fervent nationalism.

The written recorded background to the land presently constituting Afghanistan can be traced back to around 500 BCE when the area was under the First Persian Empire.

A high degree of urbanised culture existed in the region since between three thousand and two thousand BC, so some form of regular society was the case.


Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army arrived at what is now Afghanistan in 330 BCE after conquering Persia.

The name "Afghan" was used historically to refer to a member of the ethnic Pashtun community, and the suffix "stan" means "place of" in Persian, hence the regional name "Afghanistan".

Since then, many empires have risen from that country which has been a strategically important location throughout history. Sitting on many trade and migration routes, Afghanistan was a gateway to India and a key section of the ancient Silk Road which provided the trade route between China and the Mediterranean.

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About the Author

Ian Nance's media career began in radio drama production and news. He took up TV direction of news/current affairs, thence freelance television and film producing, directing and writing. He operated a program and commercial production company, later moving into advertising and marketing.

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