Easy to invade and occupy, difficult to subjugate and rule, Afghanistan remains a poisoned chalice for whichever of the great powers takes it on. The Russian empire failed to digest the portions of Muslim Central Asia and the Caucasus it did swallow during the nineteenth century: most of Russia's contemporary problems with terrorism stem from those acquisitions.
"You can rent an Afghan, but never buy him" still remains the traditional local aphorism most applicable to would-be Central Asian conquerors.
--- From "Snake Pits"
Robert Carver's review of
Shooting Leave by Robert Ure
TLS 12 February 2010