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Chan Lowe cartoon: The Graveyard of Empires

serpent.gifAmericans have never been much for learning the lessons of history.

Part of it is that America is so different from other nations, founded on principle rather than ethnicity or geography.

A corollary to this is the myth of American exceptionalism, which, loosely translated, means: "Others failed in the past because they did it wrong. When we do things our way, we succeed. Plus, we've got God on our side."

When it comes to Afghanistan, a backwater that has been notoriously hostile to outsiders, "The Graveyard of Empires," we may learn that even our way won't win us the highway.

Take the Brits, for example. If you have any FAQ's about how to run an empire, they're the go-to folks. Anybody who can subjugate the entire Indian subcontinent--several hundred million people--for over a hundred years using nothing more than a few thousand civil servants and soldiers must know what they're doing.

Well, Afghanistan's inhospitable inhabitants and topography broke them, too. Even the Russian Bear lumbered off with a bruised backside.

Do we honestly think that we can cram our Age of Enlightenment ideals down the locals' throats and leave them with a functioning agrarian democracy in the Jeffersonian mold (well, growing opium poppies is a form of agriculture) through military might, just because we happen to be more charming than our predecessors?

It doesn't matter who's sitting in the Oval Office hot seat, be they Democrat or Republican. When it comes to Afghanistan, they're earning every penny of their salary.

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The MYTH of American exceptionalism.......

Speak for yourself, Picture Boy.

Someday, maybe after the comic book is written, you'll understand how we could get to Afghanistan, thru Iraq, much like we could only get to Germany, thru France.

Obviously, it would be quite un-exceptional to walk into the mouth of the serpent. Glad people like you are not commander in chief. Well.......

To Louis Tully,

Have you looked at a map lately? There's this itty bitty country named "Iran," lying right between Afghanistan and Iraq.

Maybe "Picture Boy" ain't so
dumb after all.


Is that why the previous adim. wouldn't touch a commitment to Afghanistan with a 100ft pole and dove into Iraq head first? I always thought it was to finish some "family business", not to find the person responsible for 9/11. Just an observation....

We won the war for Oil.
(So long as Blue-Helmets don't replace Jar-Heads at the spigot.)

The Brass of Afghanistan's invasion force WAS stationed at Gitmo.

But, Change is coming.

History shows clearly, Afghanistan and Iraq are really easy to conquer. The problem is sustaining the occupation and getting out. Hey Mr. Lowe, remember Britian's little Iraqi misadventure during WW I.

These people are using our own media coverage and attempts at fighting "soft" wars without "collateral damage" or civilian victims against us. The only thing they would understand is if we conquered them completely, ruled them with strength and suppressed any attempt at rebellion immediately, with force and no mercy. If we are not ready and willing to do this (and I doubt that we are) we should get the hell out.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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