I wish more people had a better understanding of world history. All of the problems we face today have historical beginnings and if one is ignorant of these beginnings one has no way of understanding what's really going on. Consider, for instance, the on-going crisis (wars) in the Middle East and our on-going and problematic relationships with Russia and China.
What we, today, are witnessing is the death of the Anglo-British-American Empire. Colonialism and imperialism are dead yet Great Britain and America refuse to surrender their colonialist and imperialist ideology. Rather than admit the error of our ways, repent of the evil we've done and continue to do and start minding our own business, we continue the unwinnable strategy of telling other peoples in other lands (whom we deem inferior) what to do and punishing them for not minding us—their superiors.
When I was in the U. S. Army, a long time ago, the insignia belonging to the first unit that I was assigned to (the 14th Infantry) was distinguished by a golden dragon in front of a red wall, because—during the Boxer Rebellion, in China—this unit had once scaled the wall of Peking in order to capture the city.
Over the years, both England and America have attempted to control the Chinese—England with its shameless Opium Wars and America with its Yangtze River gunboat patrols—yet the Chinese people have now, finally, freed themselves from the arrogant, wrong-headed, imperialist Anglo-Americans; although they still need to free themselves from their own dead, Marxist/Communist, totalitarian ideology—at least they are free of Anglo-American imperialism.
Great Britain has, over the years, tried—and failed—to control Afghanistan (to use as a buffer between the British India colonies and Russia) just like America is trying—and failing— to do today (to use as a buffer between the Middle East oil fields and China).
Opium—the same opium the British once foisted upon the Chinese people—is Afghanistan's largest and most profitable export. And I assume that it always will be. Opium, as Martin Booth has said, has a long history and is an integral part of the global economy.
The old and collapsing British Empire is responsible the current crisis, which America (since World War II) has now inherited, in the Middle East. For example, even a cursory study of World War I will show that Palestine, which is what that land was then called, was stolen from the Palestinians by the British in order that it might be given to the Zionist colonizers.
To this very day we are simply reaping the consequences of these arrogant, imperialist actions.
When will Anglo-Americans wake up, learn their history, admit the error of their ways, truly allow the peoples of other lands to determine their own destinies, butt-out of everyone's business, leave people in foreign lands alone, apologize for what we've done, humbly admit that our "empires" have collapsed, and start focusing on the problems that we have right here at home? Probably not until our "empires" are defeated—militarily—by our enemies; because, even through we're already financially bankrupt, we'll no doubt continue to hang on until the very bitterest of ends.