Foreign Policy: Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan
I am certain that this article has been noted elsewhere across the Internet in the year or so since its publication on May 27, 2010, but I saw it for the first time today. While I cannot show you the incredible photos included in the report–you’ll just have to click over and see them for yourself–I can share with you a few excerpts from the piece, each noting a comparison between the Afghanistan of today, and the Afghanistan of fifty-plus years ago.
The education level of Afghanistan’s cabinet today is far less than it was 50 years ago, when this photo was taken. Back then, most high-ranking government officials would have had master’s or doctoral degrees. Western dress was the norm. These days, government meetings in Kabul are conducted among men, many with long beards, big turbans, and traditional garb.
With German assistance, Afghanistan built its first large hydropower station, pictured here, in the early 1950s. At the time, it was state of the art. It is still in operation, but unfortunately, in the last eight years, Afghanistan’s government has not been able to build a single large power plant of any kind. The only sizable accomplishment has been the expansion of a transport line to Uzbekistan so that power can be imported from the north.
Sadly, a place where people used to learn, socialize and vacation a half century ago has been ravaged by invasion by the Soviets and even the Americans, and has long languished under the thumb of radical Islam. That’s the thing that so many people just don’t understand about Islam — Dubai, the UAE, even the Saudi royal family … those are anomalies and not the norm, growth that is at the expense of the values preached by traditionalist clerics. The norm is a regression. The norm is taking a Middle Eastern hub of activity and turning it into a medieval wasteland.
Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan … I heard someone say today that radical Islam is like a plague of locusts that devours otherwise viable and vibrant civilizations. Looking at the nations that have been devoured, I can’t say that I disagree.