A few weeks back, I wrote:
At this point, Americans sigh wearily and shrug, "Afghanistan, the graveyard of empire," or sneer, "If they want to live in a seventh-century s***hole, f*** 'em." But neither assertion is true. Do five minutes' googling, and you'll find images from the Sixties and early Seventies of women in skirts above the knee listening to the latest Beatles releases in Kabul record stores.
Dangerous Minds has now assembled a collection of these photographs - not just Kabul coeds and teenyboppers but scientific researchers, too - from the Seventies, Sixties and Fifties, and they're well worth taking a look at, if only to understand the totality of our failure there. There's also a portrait of King Amanullah's consort, Queen Soraya, in the Twenties wearing a sleeveless gown that would get her stoned in 21st century Afghanistan. Amanullah was the emir who regained control of his country's foreign policy from the British, but he and his wife were more westernized than any of the would-be heirs to his throne today. Queen Soraya, a practising Muslim, nevertheless went around riding on horseback - which no unaccompanied woman can do in her country after 12 years as an American protectorate. As I said:
If it's too much to undo the barbarism of centuries, why could the supposed superpower not even return the country to the fitful civilization of the disco era? The American imperium has lasted over twice as long as the Taliban's rule — and yet, unlike them, we left no trace.
America and its allies have the best tanks, planes, and guns ...but no will and no strategy. And so the tanks, planes and guns count for naught. Our enemies have nothing but will. The consequences of this distinction extend well beyond Afghanistan.
~ See Steyn sing his culturally-sensitive love song, "My Sharia Amour", live on stage in Florida next month. Tickets available now!