The lost history of Helmand...

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Schleswig-Holstein, Oct 22, 2009.

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  1. Folks

    just seen this long and detailed piece on the recent(ish) history of Helmand that I have to say I didn't know about.

    It is written by Adam Curtis, who has made some, ahem controversial documentaries, but it makes for very interesting reading.

    It might be that I'm a numpty and everyone else knew this stuff, but I thought other ARRSErs might be interested...
  2. well its true, the dam in the area was built by the Yanks as well in the 50's i think.

    didnt know about the waterways though, i kind of assumed a desert living civilisation would figure that out a bit quicker
  3. As it is a rainy weekend and I have already walked the hound, this thread deserves to be bumped back into view for further debate. I have watched previous Adam Curtis stuff such as The Trap and have enjoyed them immensely. This blog is similarly fascinating.

    When you read through the history of the USA's previous engagement in Helmand you get a growing sense of them having long-standing unfinished business there. Rightly or wrongly, Adam Curtis gives the impression that there is more to their current involvement than the desire to defeat the Taliban or reduce the drugs trade. The sense of having to prove an ideaological and economic model, that has failed once during the Cold War, is palpable. There are probably lots of old men on the former USSR who are enjoying a tremendous sense of schadenfreude on so many levels.

    Collective farming anyone?
  4. It is also grey and grim here in Belfast, so I've been reading his earlier posts. Fantastic reading, including stuff straight out of Flashman . Well worth a look
  5. The author James Mitchner wrote his novel "Caravans" while working on this project
  6. Read about the Quixotic American project of Lashkar Gah before but it's a very good piece.

    You could look back and think "The fools!" trying to create Mall America in Helmand as a bulwark against The Reds and leaving behind them a salty soiled desert only fit for poppy growth with the intelligentsia trending Commie and stalked by the future: creatures not predicted "Modernization Theory" Islamist goons like Gulbaddin Hekmatyar.

    Then I halt and consider the whole anthropology weaponized, societal re-engineering, nation building thing and the unintended consequences of our actions in FATA...

    "The craft of his engines surpasseth his dreams" seems an apt quote now, perhaps even more so than the first time round.

    This article is drawing on the work of Nick Cullather. His From New Deal to New Frontier in Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State from 02 makes interesting reading, the old problem of DC's dubious alliance with Islamabad and Pashtun national asperations surfaces.

    See also Damming Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State by Nick Cullather
  7. Truly fascinating, Schleswig. Since I'm not in the UK, I unfortunately cannot watch the embedded videos along with the blog, so it feels like I'm missing much context and colour. But it's still a very interesting piece that I had no idea about.
  8. Interesting stuff! I wonder inf Gordon and Tony ever got around to reading it ? :wink:
  9. Fascinating read, especially about Lashkar Gar. I can remember looking at my map of the place in 2007 and thinking all the streets and suburbs arranged in blocks looked exactly what I imagined the map of an American city to look like. Flash to fcuking bang or what......!