Kabul Suburb 1988-In a courtyard on the outskirts of Kabul, a mujahed doctor implored me to take a picture of the boy on the left. "He is beautiful, is he not?" I didn't answer him. I wondered who had so lovingly equipped him with bandoliers more suited to 19th century warfare. Was it his parents? I was too tired to ask or respond. Nearby, a solemn veteran waited with us. The picture on the right is of his blood-soaked bandolier. I didn't have to wonder much where his bandolier came from.

There were warning signs everywhere. They hinted at things to come unless other options for the course of events were introduced. Surely the U.S. who had so eagerly supported the Mujahedin would help rebuild a civil society as they had in defeated Nazi Germany, liberated France and later in the Balkans. It was not to be. An incredibly short-sighted and self-serving American diplomacy turned its back on Afghanistan. The bright romantic dreams of holy war for independence and revolution gave way to civil war, stalemate and their attendant horrors. The vanities of the Afghan warrior pride and culture were corroded down to simple deadly pragmatism. You had to be thick not to see it coming.

copyright 2005©David Dienstag
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