|Kabul and Kabul Province||Mazar-e-Sharif||Herat||Panjshir Valley|
Clicking on each image will take you to the respective picture page
|Guesthouses in Afghanistan|
A Personal Opinion and Observation:
As much as I enjoyed my journey around Afghanistan, and as much as I appreciated the Afghan people's general hospitality, friendship, and kindness, (and humor) and their sense of individualism (where men are concerned), I noticed yet again, what the US [politicians] have failed to learn, all over the Middle East, especially. That is, to just be the sole military superpower of the world, and if need arises, to get in, win a war, and get out. Once the battles have been won, unfortunately, our mealy-mouthed, spend-crazed politicians come in and start to give US tax money away with both hands and maybe with the best intentions, but without much understanding of the nature and culture of those countries. That is totally misguided generosity and often ends with a loss of the respect in the region, that our military fought to establish. Targeted and conditional help for education, hospitals, and security is fine, and even that will be an uphill battle against the entrenched local attitudes, but one that their own (always corrupt) governments have to fight, not we, the US taxpayer. My questions to many Afghans was about an Afghan identify, or to prioritize the order of their loyalties, and it was always along these lines: 1. Muslim 2. Family 3. Tribe, and somewhere down the line was Afghanistan. Much of Kabul thinks differnerently, which is why I call Afghanistan a 'City State'. The recent uproar over the disposal of four Korans and other books, already defiled by Afghan prisoners with inflammatory messages, highlights how little what the US and her allies have done and spent in the course of 10 years matters to the Afghans, and we get orchestrated responses and deaths on both sides, utterly out of scale with the burning of those defaced books. An apology for not having turned them over to the Afghan authorities for proper disposal (burning) and an explanation by the local command should have been more than appropriate. To the Afghans at large, our presence and influence is a threat to their treasured and traditional way of life. They have little love for outsiders, no more now than they did even before the Muslim religion was adopted, regardless of who they might be. Time to pack up and depart. We did what we came to do - long ago. What's left are goals of politicians and some military leaders who have their own distorted agenda. There is nothing else that we can do that will result in lasting changes after our departure. All will go back to the way it has been, in my opinion. Change, if any, will only come from the inside, as permitted by the Afghan men themselves, never pushed or dictated by us. An example, and this may be a backlash to our presence and influence, or an attempt to cushion the blow of a possible Taliban resurgence, BBC World reported that the Afghan government is considering not allowing men and women in the same workplace, which in my opinion will result in the loss of some of their best employees. Secondly, male and female students at the universities are not to be in the same classrooms. That, of course, goes straight back to the local Muslim belief that women/girls are not to be educated at all. Lastly, they want to legislate that women are not to be allowed to walk the streets unaccompanied by a man, as one can so frequently observe, at least in the cities, right now. What this will do is to deepen the rifts between the central government and the tribes that don't necessarily fall in line with Kabul government directives. Hence we had the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance of old. All I can say is, once we leave and are out of the active combat role, watch out. Things may get ugly quickly.
As an update, right now, at the end of the summer of 2012, it is getting ugly already. The Taliban are stirring all over murdering young people and even little children. Individually, and from all accounts of the past, they are monsters capable of Medieval style cruelty and with that, will contunue to wreak havoc on that small nation, with backing by Pakistan, and will no doubt, without foreign intervention of some kind, tear that small country apart once again.