This is a story of the madness of the English as they sought to, well, they don't seem to be quite sure, so neither should I be. So far the English have managed to displace a popular tyrant in Cabul with an unpopular one who is known for a "mixture of timidity and duplicity" that leaves him despised and hated while the English are compelled to stay and keep him propped up. The logic seems to have been something like the enemy of the enemy ... of my enemy is certainly going to be my friend, although the character of this leader is such that he would have had trouble being the friend of anyone, while the former ruler wasn't the enemy of the English. The author gives this little note at the start:
"The Duke of Wellington pronounced with prophetic sagacity, that the consequence of once crossing the Indus to settle a government in Afghanistan would be a perennial march into that country."
Afghanistan wasn't any kind of western centralized government, but instead a collection of tribal groups that supported a central monarch. Maybe. Dealing with these leaders is what required an expert leader, which unfortunately was the one the English had just ousted. Then there is this note on the character of the Afghan leaders:
"When historians write of Afghan treachery and guile, it seems to have escaped their perception that Afghan treachery was but a phase of Afghan patriotism, of an unscrupulous character, doubtless, according to our notions, but nevertheless practical in its methods, and not wholly unsuccessful in its results."
At the end of chapter three, the first year of the occupation has now ended, the former ruler, Dost Mohammed, has just given himself up. The English can feel smug, and the catastrophe is still to come.