For the better part of the 19th Century, the British Empire and Czarist Russia (and for a while Napoleonic France) struggled for influence and control over Afghanistan and the broader Islamic Central-Asian region. Russia feared England’s growing commercial ambitions on the doorstep of the Russian Empire, while England feared that Russian control of Afghanistan would allow it to threaten India, the “jewel in the crown” of the British Empire.
Although the European powers never went to war against each other directly over the region, they engaged in a decades-long series of political and diplomatic moves and counter-moves (and occasional indirect military moves) that historian came to call The Great Game.
Something like a 21st Century version of the Great Game is now playing out among today’s digital empires for control over virtual territory on the connected devices and streaming services in Americans’ homes. Read More »