Flashman In Afghanistan: The More Things Change...
February 12, 2019, 11:11 AM
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In Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser, Flashman, the disgraced bully expelled from Rugby School in 1839 by headmaster Thomas Arnold in Thomas Hughes’ novel Tom Brown’s Schooldays, lands on his feet again with a commission in a smart London cavalry regiment. But his snobbish commanding officer disapproves of his marriage to a Scottish mill owner’s daughter. So Flashy is dispatched to India, where he makes an overly good impression on the Viceroy who assigns him to Kabul in remote and restless Afghanistan. His first impression:

… the British government had invaded the country, if you please, and put our puppet king, Shah Sujah on the throne in Kabul in place of old Dost Mohammed, who was suspected of Russian sympathies.

I believe, from all I saw and heard, that if he had Russian sympathies it was because we drove him to them by our stupid policy; at any rate, the Kabul expedition succeeded in setting Sujah on the throne, and old Dost was politely locked up in India. So far, so good, but the Afghans didn’t like Sujah at all, and we had to leave an army in Kabul to keep him on his throne. … but it was having its work cut out trying to keep the tribes in order, for apart from Dost’s supporters there were scores of little petty chiefs and tyrants who lost no opportunity of causing trouble in the unsettled times, and the usual Afghan pastimes of blood-feud, robbery, and murder-for-fun were going full steam. Our army prevented any big rising — for the moment, anyway — but it was forever patrolling and manning little forts, and trying to pacify and buy off the robber chiefs and people were wondering how long this could go on.

[Comment at Unz.com]

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