Afghanistan: one of the most isolated and barren landscapes on earth is a strange place for an empire or a superpower to invade. But for three of the greatest powers the world has seen, it became an unlikely target and an enduring obsession.
The 19th century British invasions into Afghanistan, immortalised by Rudyard Kipling as ‘The Great Game’, ended in a huge loss of life, a British retreat and created a template for the perils of incursion in this mountainous country.
In this two-part series Rory Stewart MP - author, journalist and former deputy governor during the coalition’s occupation of Iraq - travels to Afghanistan to uncover the fears, the paranoia and perceived threats that led three very different superpowers - Britain, Russia and the United States - into Afghanistan from the 19th century to the present day. (Source: BBC)
In the second episode Rory reveals the Soviets as reluctant invaders who agonised over the risks of intervention in 1978, and ultimately saw a theoretically brief invasion turn into an eight year long battle. He also unravels the undercover fight that began between the Soviet Union and the US, as both sought to buy influence in Afghanistan.
As Rory takes a deeply personal look at the role fear and paranoia by other countries has played in Afghan history, he meets the soldiers and Generals on both sides, and the CIA spies who covertly funded the Afghans.