Until 1979, most of the modern world had never heard of Afghanistan as little more than a spot on a globe in the library. In that year, the Soviet Union sent special forces commandos in to raid the royal residence and kill the occupants, installing a puppet government. From that point forward, as a people and a place, they have rarely been Out of the news. To the British empire, Afghanistan was well known, but as Americans, we were ignorant of it. In fact, almost any country that has every tried to tame the Afghan territory has failed, and almost always after long, expensive, bloody campaigns. The lesson of futility was learned time and again.
Then, because of the Taliban, a product of soviet invasion and American intervention, acting as hosts of Al Qaeda, Afghanistan once again was put on the radar of the American people.