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    Posted September 26, 2011 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    10 years in Afghanistan

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    Afghanistan 50 Years Ago


    The power vacuum left by the assassination of tyrant King Nadir Shah in 1933 was quickly filled by his benevolent teenage son, Zahir, who continued for another 40 years to maintain peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.


    Under his rule, modern factories sprung up around the country, 13 hydroelectric plants were built, schools were opened up to all, and medicine and science and technology put Afghanistan on the worldwide map.


    If you walked into a 1960s metal shop, say, in Jangalak, outside Kabul, you would not have been able to tell the difference between it and one in Dayton, Ohio, except for the nationality and attire of the workers.


    US President Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Afghanistan in the year of my birth 1959, and had strongly positive things to report about his travels.


    The country also had stunning ancient artwork (most of which was destroyed by the Taliban).


    Except the Taliban's destruction of much of Afghanistan's history, you never hear about this COOL!WOW! part of Afghanistan's history. Someone surreptitiously erased it from the books.


    But I found it. . . .


    Fifty years ago, Afghanistan was thriving under the rule of Zahir, who had been positively influenced by exposure to Western culture and negatively influenced by his father's tyrannical rule. Zahir was determined not only not to make the mistakes of his father, but also to bring Afghanistan into the 20th century. And he did it well, cultivating strong relationships with key allies and building an infrastructure the likes of which may not be seen for another hundred years.


    Except around Bagram Air Base. . . .


    What has happened to this once-thriving nation?

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