Soviet and Current Day Afghanistan

Glimpses of Afghanistan: Us Policy in Soviet Afghanistan

During his times in Afghanistan, Mark Ritchie came to love this fascinating, volatile nation so different from his own. His experiences both as a child and an adult give a glimpse into this mysterious and often misunderstood land. Below are just several of his reminiscences in God in the Pits: the Enron-Jihad Edition on US policy in Soviet Afghanistan.

US foreign policy in Afghanistan

1979-1989

It is always a bit of a risk for a foreigner to travel alone in remote areas of Afghanistan. And the risk is compounded after dark. The only highway to Herat was a joint U.S.-Soviet effort-in a display of foreign aid, the U.S. had built from Kabul, the Soviets from Herat, until they met each other in the southwest corner of the desert at Kandahar.

The highway from Kandahar to Herat is a sparkling example of creative Soviet construction. It is made from large concrete slabs connected together, each slab probably thirty to fifty feet in length. As the tires of the vehicle hit the seams between the slabs, it gave our ride an interesting rhythm, sort of a metronome to which we could play our Name That Tune songs with our horn blasts. We wondered, as we drove along, if the Russian engineers had a different leveling method than that used by the Americans. Some of the beats got quite loud. And if we were annoyed by this strange highway, we had no idea what our unborn niece was going through in the backseat. This style of highway construction is in itself enough to make anyone a capitalist. If the Afghans had dental problems before, they had nothing to worry about now, because anyone who rode this highway had no teeth left. (The simple truth is that the highway was constructed of steel reinforced concrete that enabled it to carry vehicles many times heavier than any used for commercial freight.)

Excerpt from God in the Pits, The Enron-Jihad Edition, by Mark Andrew Ritchie
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