I'm sorry for the mass amounts of posts on this topic; it is one that has got me really interested recently and I have been researching and reading about it to my hearts content. I promise this will (probably) be the last lessons-from-history related post in a while.
The last person to conquer and rule Afghanistan was Alexander the Great. Because Afghanistan is an area, rather than a nation, whilst it is relatively easy to conquer, it is impossible to hold. In 1839 the British forced a treaty with the titular king of Afghanistan, however the tribes outside the capital were unhappy with it and slaughtered 20,000 British soldiers and their families in response. In 1980 Russia also failed to conquer Afghanistan, entering the area with teachers, doctors, and engineers and spending lavishly on schools and hospitals, which only resulted in a genocide and failed war. However Obama’s recent announcement that American troops will withdraw from Afghanistan, mostly by the end of this year, shows that he may be learning from history.
Often the biggest mistake governments can make in reaction to terrorists is to assist them in creating the terror and chaos they desire. For example, Gavrilo Princip, arguably the most successful terrorist in history, may not have been so successful were it not for the overreaction of European governments. Princip was a member of a small group of Serbian revolutionaries, called the Black Hand. One terrorist threw a grenade at the son of the Austrian Emperor, Franz Ferdinand, and missed. Princip lost his nerve and fled when the grenade missed, however Ferdinand’s car later stalled in front of the assassin. Even Gavrilo could not miss. He was easily caught hours later. The Austrian reaction was an invasion of Serbia. This caused Russia to join Serbia which in turn caused Germany to side with Austria in what became World War One. It was this overreaction that allowed an incompetent to change the world.
A speculation bubble occurs when people buy something, just about anything, not for what it is worth but because they expect to resell it for more. Nations have been suffering from the results of speculation bubbles since tulipomania in 1593. Tulip bulbs in Holland went up in value hundreds of times in price and some sold for more than did a house in Amsterdam. Yet we haven’t learnt from this fiasco; the railroad and oil stocks spiked and then burst in the 19th century, and in the 1990s tech stocks and 2000s mortgage securities have suffered the same fate. It seems as if we find it hard to resist the easy profits from speculation buying, despite knowing the consequences, and then we all suffer in the recession that most likely occurs.