In response to Chicago Tribune article:
“Illinois National Guard: How Afghanistan looks to it (A soldier’s-eye view of villages)”
The Tribune’s July 21st photo-essay on Afghanistan is a commendable piece that breathes humanity into the life of Afghans. Unfortunately, for many Americans Afghanistan remains merely a distant land inhabited by a people veiled behind burqahs and turbans.
While eye-opening, the photo-essay still manages to portray Afghanistan as a timeless and quaint world, clinging to centuries-old lifestyles and farming techniques. It is imperative that the background context of Afghanistan is brought to public attention more often- as a country that is the world’s third poorest not by choice or fault of its own, but through the wars that have ravaged it for decades
Afghanistan’s strategic position between major countries has subjected it to continuous warfare. After a ten-year Soviet invasion (1979-89), which subsequently left the country embroiled in an eight year civil war, and followed by another conflict now entering its eighth year, Afghanistan has literally been decimated. It just hasn’t had the opportunity to build an infrastructure that would provide education and civil service to allow the country to advance.
Context reveals Afghanistan not as a world that time left behind, but as a world that war kept behind. Repeated incursions, have not served to keep the country in a state of picturesque timelessness. They have only served to keep it in a state of ruins.