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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 13, 2001

The Left Lane
He saw historic lesson in early Afghanistan

Honolulu writer and photo archivist Allan Seiden was poking around in some boxes the other day when he came across his 1968 master's thesis, "The British in Afghanistan, 1873-1897: From Caution to Recklessness, a Prelude to War."

As he flipped through it, Seiden said it was like reading something clipped from a contemporary state department briefing: "This part of Asia, long unstable and historically a part of a dozen different empires, lacked internal cohesiveness and was, many felt, a threat ... either as a route for a foreign invader or due to the unrestrained actions of the populace."

"I'd read these paragraphs and I'd say, 'Wow! I should have sent this to the president when this all started,' " Seiden said. All the same cultural, political and religious forces that U.S. and U.N. forces are encountering now were at work when the British got into trouble in Afghanistan, he said. Today's situation, he contends, "was not only predictable, it was guaranteed."

— Wanda Adams, assistant features editor