Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Those politically correct 1940s and 1950s!

A few months ago, thanks to the blogger Logan's Warning, I discovered information that fairly clearly indicates that even Eisenhower was PC MC about Islam (see
Proto-PC MC: Those Conservative 1950s!).

In that article, I reported how on June 28, 1957, on the occasion of the opening of a new "Islamic Center", President Eisenhower

...praised the Islamic world’s “traditions of learning and rich culture” which have “for centuries contributed to the building of civilization.”

And if the reader reads the full article he will find additional affirmations equally, it not more nauseating, from Eisenhower.

It is apropos here to mention an important article which Diana West published on her blog almost three years ago -- Nation-Building in Afghanistan: It Didn't Work the First Time.

I hereby quote copiously from what West wrote in that article (the bold emphases are hers):

The United States of America has already tried improving Afghan safety and quality of life, and on a colossal scale, and it just didn't stick. And back then, between 1946 and 1979, there was no Taliban "insurgency" complicating the social work of nation-building.

This decades-long episode of US-Afghan history has been erased from our national consciousness, pricked only by the odd "remember when" news report. Such national memory loss is probably due to the fact that these US efforts to improve Afghanistan -- centered in Helmand Province, by the way, the Taliban-spawning, opium-growing region into which 4,000 US Marines "surged" this summer -- have themselves been erased from Afghanistan. Of course, for nation-building utopians such as McChrystal -- those from Right to Left who see different peoples and different cultures as interchangeable markers on a games board -- reality never tempers the fanaticism.

Back in 2002, Nick Cullather, a history professor at Indiana University, excavated our long-forgotten but long-sustained presence in "New York in Afghanistan," which was organized under the rubric of "the Helmand Valley Authority." The centerpiece of the massive project was an ill-conceived dam project-plus designed by none other than Morrison Knudsen, builder of Hoover Dam, Cape Canaveral and the Golden Gate Bridge. Cullather writes:

In late September 2001, while looking for lecture material related to the war that had just begun, I came across references to the Helmand project. It initially appeared to resemble rural development schemes I was studying in Southeast Asia, but closer examination revealed the project’s unusual scale and longevity... It came under American supervision in 1946 and continued until the departure of the last reclamation expert in 1979, outlasting the theories and rationales on which it was based. It was lavishly funded by U.S. foreign aid, multilateral loans, and the Afghan government, and it was the opposite of piecemeal. It was an “integrated” development scheme, with education, industry, agriculture, medicine, and marketing under a single controlling authority.

Money quote:

Nation-building did not fail in Afghanistan for want of money, time, or imagination. In the Helmand Valley, the engines and dreams of modernization had run their full course, spooling out across the desert until they hit limits of physics, culture, and history.

U.S. officials described it as “a major social engineering project,” responsible for river development but also for education, housing, health care, roads, communications, agricultural research and extension, and industrial development in the valley. The US ambassador in 1962 noted that if successful, HAVA would boost Kabul’s “earnings of foreign exchange and, if properly devised, could foster the growth of a strata of small holders which would give the country more stability.

This billiard-ball
alignment of capital accumulation, class formation, and political evolution was a core proposition of the social science approach to modernization that was just making the leap from university think tanks to centers of policymaking...

Development, economists Walt W. Rostow and Max Millikan of MIT assured the CIA in 1954, could create “an environment in which societies which directly or indirectly menace ours will not evolve.”


Yeah, right.

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