Tribal, mountainous, arid, and in many areas desolate, it has fostered a warrior way of life for its people that is as old as time. In the 19th century Afghanistan was a buffer between British India and Russia. In the 20th century it became the Soviet gateway to South Asia. The USSR’s 1989 withdrawal kick-started the dissolution of the Soviet Empire. Now the Americans are out. Will another empire go by the wayside?