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Document discussing the promotion of Pashtunism by the British Rate Topic: -----

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03-February 08

Posted 25 May 2008 - 10:34 AM

From New Deal to New Frontier in Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State, Nick Cullather

Source: http://www.nyu.edu/g...s/Cullather.pdf

In May 1960, the historian Arnold Toynbee left Kandahar and drove 90 miles on
freshly paved roads to Lashkar Gah, a modern planned city known locally as the New York of
Afghanistan. At the confluence of the Helmand and Arghandab rivers, close against the ancient
ruins of Qala Bist, Lashkar Gah’s 8,000 residents lived in suburban-style tract homes
surrounded by broad lawns. The city boasted an alabaster mosque, one of the country’s best
hospitals, Afghanistan’s only coeducational high school, and the headquarters of the Helmand
Valley Authority, a multipurpose dam project funded by the United States.2 This unexpected
proliferation of modernity led Toynbee to reflect on the warning of Sophocles: “the craft of his
engines surpasseth his dreams.”3 In the area around Kandahar, traditional Afghanistan had
vanished. “The domain of the Helmand Valley Authority,” he reported, “has become a piece of
America inserted into the Afghan landscape. …The new world they are conjuring up out of the
desert at the Helmand River’s expense is to be an America-in-Asia.”4

Toynbee’s image sits uneasily with the visuals of the recent war. In the granite
battlescapes captured by Al Jazeera’s cameras in the days after September 11, Afghanistan
appeared as perhaps the one spot on earth unmarked by the pervasive influence of American
culture. When correspondents referred to Afghanistan’s history it was to the Soviet invasion of
the 1980s or the earlier Great Game that ended with the British Empire’s departure from South

Asia in 1947. There was a silence about the three decades in between. During that time,
Afghanistan was aptly called an “economic Korea,” divided between the Soviet Union in the
north and the United States in the south.5 In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States made
southern Afghanistan a showcase of nation-building with a dazzling project to “reclaim” and
modernize a swath of territory comprising roughly half the country. The Helmand venture is
worth remembering today as a precedent for renewed efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, but it was
also part of a larger project—alternately called development, nation-building, or
modernization—that deployed science and expertise to reconstruct the entire post-colonial

When President Harry S Truman announced a “bold new program … for the
improvement of underdeveloped areas”6 in January 1949, the global response was startling.
Truman “hit the jackpot of the world’s political emotions,” Fortune noted.7 National
delegations lined up to receive assistance that a few years earlier would have been seen as a
colonial intrusion. Development inserted a new problematic into international relations, and a
new concept of time, asserting that all nations followed a common historical path and that
those in the lead had a moral duty to those who followed. “We must frankly recognize,” a State
Department official observed in 1953, “that the hands of the clock of history are set at different
hours in different parts of the world.”8 Leaders of newly independent states, such as Zahir
Shah of Afghanistan and Jawaharlal Nehru of India, accepted these terms, merging their own
governmental mandates into the stream of nations moving toward modernity. Development
was not simply the best, but the only course. “There is only one-way traffic in Time,” Nehru

Aided by social science theory, development came into its own by the mid-1950s as
both a policy ideology in the United States and as a global discourse for assigning obligations
and entitlements among rich and poor nations.10 Nationalism and modernization held equal
place in the postcolonial creed. As Edward Shils observed in 1960, nearly every state pressed
for policies “that will bring them well within the circle of modernity.”11 But nation-building
schemes, even successful ones, rarely unfolded quietly. The struggles, often subtle and indirect,
over dam projects, land reforms, and planned cities generally concerned the meaning of
development, the persons, authorities, and ideals that would be associated with the spectacle of
progress. To modernize was to lay claim to the future and the past, to define national identities
and values that would survive and guide the nation on its journey forward.12

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. Vulnerable to shifts in policy, funding, or theoretical
fashion, cold-war era development schemes suffered shortcomings reasonably attributed to
their piecemeal approach and shortages of commitment, resources, or time. Such failures,
James Ferguson has observed, only reinforced the paradigm, as modernization theory supplied
the necessary explanations while new policy furnished solutions.13 The Helmand scheme had
no such excuse. 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. 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.
The planners of the Helmand project presented it as applied science, as a rationalization
of nature and social order, but they also trafficked in dreams. Planting a modern city next to
the colossal ruins of Qala Bist was a calculated gesture asserting an imagined line of succession
from the Ghaznavid dynasty to the royal family presiding in Kabul. Every development
scheme involves representations of this kind, and a complex project, such as the Helmand
venture, can accommodate overlapping sets of symbolic meanings that justify a nd sustain it,
even in failure. Modernization demanded, Michael Latham notes, a “projection of American
identity.”14 Exporting an American model of progress required continual redefinition of the
sources of American greatness and renewed efforts to plant its unique characteristics in foreign
landscapes. The New Deal, the New Look, and the New Frontier each revised the stakes and
symbolism of the Helmand venture. Within Afghanistan’s government, the impulse to
modernize went back into the early twentieth century when tribal and ethnic loyalties were
reformed as a national identity. The Helmand project symbolized the transformation of the
nation, representing the legitimacy of the monarchy, the expansion of state power, and the
fulfillment of the Pashtun destiny.

The Accidental Nation. Afghanistan, at its origin, was an empty space on the map that
was not Persian, not Russian, not British, “a purely accidental geographic unit,” according to
Curzon, who put the finishing touches on its silhouette.15 Both the monarchy and the nation
emerged from strategies Britain used to pacify the Pashtun peoples along India’s Northwest
frontier in the last half of the nineteenth century.
Consisting of nomadic, seminomadic, and
settled communities with no common language or ancestry, Pashtuns (Pathans in Hindustani)
comprised for colonial officials a single racial grouping. 16 They occupied a strategically vital
region stretching from the southern slopes of the Hindu Kush range through the northern
Indus Valley into Kashmir.

To prevent tribal feuds from inviting Russian influence, colonial officials devised a
double-pronged strategy to bring the Pashtun belt under British control. First, they split it in
half by surveying the Durand Line, the 1,200 mile boundary that today separates Afghanistan
and Pakistan. Plotted in 1893, the “scientific frontier” followed a topographic ridgeline that
could be held at strongpoints blocking key mountain passes.
17 By bisecting tribal homelands
and the seasonal migration of three million pastoralists following herds of Persian fat-tailed
sheep between lowland and upland grazing areas, the Durand Agreement restricted Pashtun
autonomy and facilitated new forms of indirect influence over peoples on both sides of the

Rather than demarcating the spatial limit of British sovereignty, the Durand Line
marked a division between types of imperial control. On the India side, a smaller Pashtun
population, the “assured clans,” could be co-opted and deployed as a proxy army against
Pashtuns on the Afghan side, precluding the emergence of a regime in Kabul hostile to British
The Mohammadzai—the clan of Zahir Shah, ruler of Afghanistan from 1933 to
1973—was such a subaltern force, benefiting from British power without being fully
constrained by it. 19 Straddling the Khyber Pass, they used subsidies and arms to overwhelm
their rivals on the Afghan side.20 This variety of indirect rule, known as the “Forward Policy,”
kept Afghanistan firmly under British influence for the first half of the twentieth century.21

The Line complemented a cultural strategy of pacification known as the Pathan
Renaissance, through which colonial agents aligned their own interests with those of their tribal
made aircraft supported mounted troops, broke the autonomous power of these regions,
opening them to Pashtun settlement.28 Nadir Shah built a professional army—new in Afghan
tradition—of 40,000 troops, linked by kinship and personal loyalty to the monarchy and trained
by French and German advisers.29 A system of secularized schools and a change of the national
language from Dari, a Persian dialect, to Pashto, demonstrated the new regime’s determination
to bring Afghanistan’s ungovernable tribes under the control of a rationalized, central state.

For Nadir Shah and his son Zahir, who assumed the throne after his father’s
assassination in 1933, political survival depended on enlarging and deepening the authority of
the state. To its new rulers, Afghanistan was an unknown and dangerous country. It had few
roads, only six miles of rail (all of it in Kabul), and few internal telegraph or phone lines. For
most of the 10 or 12 million Afghans (Afghanistan has never completed a census), encounters
of any kind with the central government were rare and unpleasant.30 Laws were made and
enforced in accordance with local custom and without reference to the state; internal taxes
existed only on paper. Evidence of royal authority—easily visible on Kabul streets patrolled by
Prussian-helmeted palace guards—disappeared as rapidly as the pavement underneath a traveler
leaving the city in any direction. There were no cadastral maps, city plans, or housing registries,
an absence that made Afghanistan less legible, and therefore less governable than countries that
had been formally colonized.31 Modern states are able to govern through manipulation of
abstractions—unemployment, public opinion, literacy rates, etc.—but in Afghanistan
interventions of any kind, and the reactions to them, were brutally concrete. The prime
minister, the king’s uncle, on his infrequent inspection tours of the countryside, traveled under
heavy guard.32

Zahir Shah sought help from Japanese, Italian, and especially German advisers, who
laid plans for a modern network of communications and roads. A German-built radio tower in
Kabul allowed instant links to remote villages and the outside world for the first time. Through
a national bank and state cartels, the government supervised a cautious and tightly controlled
economic modernization. German engineers built textile mills, power plants, carpet and
furniture factories to be run by monopolies under royal license.33 Tax codes and state trading
firms began to bring lawless sectors, such as stock raising and trading, within reach of
accountants and assessors in Kabul. These efforts met with sporadic—and occasionally
bloody—resistance, but the regime persisted in slowly, firmly, laying the barren politics of
abstraction and principle over the warm, cruel politics of the heart.34

During the second world war the United States replaced Germany as the external
partner in the young king’s plans. The Holocaust and submarine warfare caused Afghanistan’s
external trade to undergo a sudden and advantageous reorientation. One of the country’s chief
exports was karakul, the pelt of the Persian fat-tailed sheep converted in the hands of skilled
furriers into the glossy black fur known as astrakhan, karacul, or Persian lamb. The former
centers of fur making, Leipzig, London, and Paris, closed down during the war years and the
industry moved in its entirety to New York. From 1942 through the 1970s, New York furriers
consumed nearly the entire Afghan export, two and a half million skins a year, which resold as
lustrous black coats and hats ranging in price from $400 to $3500.35 A tiny fraction of the retail
revenue went back to Afghanistan, but the fractions added up. The government employed
exchange rate manipulations to exact an effective tax rate of over 50 percent on karakul, making
it the country’s most lucrative source of exchange as well as revenue.36 Afghanistan ended
World War II with $100 million in reserves, and in the midst of the post-war “dollar gap” crisis
in international liquidity, Afghanistan was favored with a small but steady source of dollar

The collapse of the British empire created a chance for Pashtun reunification that lent
new significance to the modernization project. From the vantage of Kabul, the partition of
India in 1947 ended whatever justification the Durand Line had once had. A Pashtun separatist
movement emerged in Peshawar and Kashmir, and with the encouragement of India, Zahir
Shah proposed the creation of an ethnic state—Pushtunistan—consisting of most of northern
Pakistan, which would give the assured clans an option to merge with Kabul at some future
date. It was a hopeless proposal—the frontier was internationally recognized—but the king
stuck to it rather than allow Pakistan to inherit the decisive instruments and influence of the
Forward Policy. The assured clans represented a continuing threat to the Afghan state.
1947, members of the royal family spoke of building in Afghanistan a secure, prosperous base
for the recovery of Pashtun lands.37

The Pushtunistan controversy would later draw Afghanistan into the cold war. U.S.
diplomats dismissed it as fantasy, but to the monarchy Pashtunistan was as solid as France. A
visitor in 1954 found government offices in Kabul hung with maps on which the “narrow,
wriggly object” plainly appeared, “wedged in between Afghanistan on one flank, and the
remains of West Pakistan on the other.”38 The dispute periodically turned hot, with reciprocal
sacking of embassies and border incidents that gradually converted the Durand Line into the
kind of politico-geographic feature that typified the cold war, an impassable boundary. The
movement of goods across the frontier was tightly restricted, and in 1962, Pakistan closed the
passes to migration, terminating the seasonal movement of the herds.39 From the mid-1950s
until the end of the Soviet occupation, Afghan exports and imports moved almost exclusively
through the Soviet Union, which discounted freight rates to encourage the dependency.40

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, however, the Soviet Union was
preoccupied with internal reconstruction, and Afghanistan looked to the United States for help
in consolidating a centralized state that could assume responsibility for the public welfare. 41
Through its development programs, the monarchy assumed a relationship of trusteeship over
the nation, presenting the king as retaining custody of the state during a dangerous transitional
period but ready to relinquish power once modernity was achieved. “Afghanistan is a backward
country,” Mohammed Daoud, the king’s brother-in-law, cousin, and prime minister, observed
in 1959. “We must do something about it or die as a nation.”42 Large-scale development
projects, visible signs of national energy, would stake a claim to the future for the Pashtuns
and to the present for the royal family.
One such scheme particularly appealed to the king;
he wanted to build a dam.

A TVA for the Hindu Kush. Nothing becomes antiquated faster than symbols of the
future, and it is difficult, at only fifty years remove, to envision the hold concrete dams once had
on the global imagination. In the mid-20th century, the austere lines of the Hoover Dam and
its radiating spans of high-tension wire inscribed federal power on the American landscape.
Vladimir Lenin famously remarked that Communism was Soviet power plus electrification, an
equation captured by the David Lean film Dr. Zhivago in the image of water surging, as a kind of
redemption, from the spillway of an immense Soviet dam. In 1954, standing at the Bhakra-
Nangal canal, Nehru described dams as the temples of modern India. “Which place can be
greater than this,” he declared, “this Bhakra -Nangal, where thousands of men have worked,
have shed their blood, and sweat and laid down their lives as well? …When we see big works,
our stature grows with them, and our minds open out a little.”43 For Nehru, for Zahir Shah, for
China today, the great blank wall of a dam was a screen on which they would project the future.

Dams also symbolized the sacrifice of the individual to the greater good of the state. A
dam project allows, even requires, a state to appropriate and redistribute land, plan factories and
economies, tell people what to make and grow, design and build new housing, roads, schools,
and centers of commerce. Tour guides are fond of telling about the worker (or workers)
accidentally entombed in dams, and construction of these vast works customarily requires huge,
unnamed sacrifices for the good of the community. To displace thousands from ancestral
homes and farms, bulldoze graveyards and mosques, and erase all trace of memory and history
from the land is a process familiar to us today as ethnic cleansing. But when done in
conjunction with dam construction, it is called land reclamation.
44 It can be justified even in
democratic systems by the calculus of development. India’s interior minister, Morarji Desai,
told a public gathering beneath the Pong Dam in 1961 that “we will request you to move from
your houses after the dam comes up. If you move, it will be good. Otherwise we shall release
the waters and drown you all.”45

A dam-building project would vastly expand and intensify the authority that could be
exercised by the central government at Kabul. Remaking and regulating the physical
environment of an entire region would, for the first time, render Afghanistan into the legible
inventories of material and human resources in the manner of modern states. Using its karakul
revenue, the Afgha n government hired the largest American heavy engineering firm, Morrison
Knudsen, Inc. of Boise, Idaho, to build a dam. Morrison Knudsen, builder of the Hoover Dam,
the San Francisco Bay Bridge, and soon the launch complex at Cape Canaveral, specialized in
symbols of the future. The firm operated all over the world, boring tunnels through the Andes
in Peru, laying airfields in Turkey. Its engineers, who called themselves Emkayans, would be
drawing up specs for a complex of dams in the in the gorges of the Yangtze River in 1949 when
Mao’s People’s Liberation Army drove them out.46 Afghanistan hired Morrison Knudsen in
1946. The firm set up shop in an old Moghul Palace outside Kandahar and began surveying the
Helmand Valley.

The Helmand and Arghandab rivers constitute Afghanistan’s largest river system,
draining a watershed the size of California. Originating in the Hindu Kush a few miles from
Kabul, the Helmand travels through upland dells thick with orchards and vineyards before
merging with the Arghandab twenty five miles from Kandahar, turning west across the arid
plain of Registan, and emptying into the Sistan marshes of Iran. The valley was reputedly the
site of a vast irrigation works destroyed by Genghis Khan in the thirteenth century. The entire
area is dry, catching two to three inches of rain a year. Consequently, river flows fluctuate
unpredictably within a wide range, varying between 2,000 and 60,000 cubic feet per second.47

Before beginning, Morrison Knudsen had to create an infrastructure of roads and bridges to
allow the movement of equipment. Typically, they would also conduct extensive studies on
soils and drainage, but the company and the Afghan government convinced themselves that in
this case it was not necessary, that “even a 20% margin of error…could not detract from the
project’s intrinsic value.”48

The promise of dams is that they are a renewable resource, furnishing power and water
indefinitely and with little effort once the project is complete, but dam projects are subject to
ecological constraints which are often more severe outside of the temperate zone. Siltation,
which now threatens many New Deal-era dams, advances more quickly in arid and tropical
climates. Canal irrigation involves a special set of hazards.49 Arundhati Roy, the voice of India’s
anti-dam movement, explains that “perennial irrigation does to soil roughly what anabolic
steroids do to the human body,” stimulating ordinary earth to produce multiple crops in the
first years while slowly rendering the soil infertile.50 Large reservoirs raise the water table in the
surrounding area, a problem worsened by extensive irrigation. Waterlogging itself can destroy
harvests, but it produces more permanent damage, too. In waterlogged soils, capillary action
pulls soluble salts and alkali to the surface, leading to desertification.51 Early reports warned that
the Helmand Valley was vulnerable, that it had gravelly subsoils and salt deposits. The
Emkayans knew Middle Eastern rivers were often unsuited to extensive irrigation schemes. But
these apprehensions’ “impact was minimized by one or both parties.”52 From the start, the
Helmand project was primarily about national prestige, and only secondarily about the social
benefits of increasing agricultural productivity .

Signs of trouble appeared almost immediately. Even when half-completed, the first
dam, a small diversion dam at the mouth of the Boghra canal, raised the water table to within a
few inches of the surface. A snowy crust of salt could be seen on the ground in areas around
the reservoir. In 1949, the engineers and the government faced a decision. Tearing down the
dam would have resulted in a loss of face for the monarchy and Morrison Knudsen, but from
an engineering standpoint the project could no longer be justified.53 The necessary
reconsideration never took place, however, because it was at this moment that the unlucky
Boghra works was enfolded into the global project of development.

Truman’s Point IV address reconfigured the relationship between the United States and
newly-independent nations. The confrontation between colonizer and colonized, rich and poor,
was with a rhetorical gesture, replaced by a world order in which all nations were either
developed or developing.54 The president explicitly linked development to American strategic
and economic objectives. Poverty was a threat not just to the poor but to their richer
neighbors, he argued, and alleviating misery would assure a general prosperity, lessening the
chances of war.55 But the “triumphant action” of development superseded the merely
ideological conflict of the cold war: communism and capitalism were competing carriers bound
for the same destination. Development justified interventions on a grand scale and made
obedience to foreign technicians the duty of every responsible government was presented not
as the best, but as the only possible course of action. Afghanistan—solvent, untouched by the
recent war, and able to hire technicians when it needed them—suddenly became
“underdeveloped” and owing to its position neighboring the Soviet Union, the likely recipient
of substantial assistance. Point IV’s technical aid could take many forms—clinics, schools, new
livestock breeds, assays for minerals and petroleum—but the uncompleted Boghra works was
an invitation to something grander, a reproduction of an American developmental triumph.

When Truman thought of aid, he thought of dams, or specifically of the Tennessee
Valley Authority, the complex of dams on the Tennessee River that transformed the economy
of the upper South. “A TVA in the Yangtze Valley and the Danube,” he proposed to the
TVA’s director, David Lilienthal. “These things can be done, and don’t let anybody tell you
different. When they happen, when millions and millions of people are no longer hungry and
pushed and harassed, then the causes of war will be less by that much.”56 Truman’s
internationalization of the TVA repositioned the New Deal for a McCarthyite age. Dams were
the American alternative to Communist land reform, Arthur Schlesinger argued in The Vital
Center. Instead of a “crude redistribution,” American engineers could create “wonderlands of
vegetation and power” from the desert. The TVA was “a weapon which, if properly employed,
might outbid all the social ruthlessness of the Communists for the support of the peoples of

The TVA had totemic significance for American liberals, but in the diplomatic setting it
had the additional function of redefining political conflict as a technical problem. Britain’s
solution to Afghanistan’s tribal wars had been to script feuds of blood, honor, and faith within
the linear logic of boundary commissions, containing conflict within two dimensional space.

The United States set aside the maps and replotted tribal enmities on hydrologi c charts.
Resolution became a matter of apportioning cubic yards of water and kilowatt hours of energy.
Assurances of inevitable progress further displaced conflict into the future; if all sides could be
convinced that resource flows would increase, problems would vanish, in bureaucratic parlance,
downstream. Over the next two decades the United States would propose river authority
schemes as solutions to the most intractable international conflicts: Palestine (“Water for
Peace”) and the Kashmir dispute.58 In 1965, Lyndon Johnson famously suggested a Mekong
River Authority as an alternative to the Vietnam War.59

Afghanistan applied for and received a $12 million Ex-Im bank loan for the Helmand
Valley, the first of over $80 million over the next 15 years.60 Afghanistan’s loan request
contained a line for soil surveys, but the bank refused it as an unnecessary expense.61 Point IV
supplied technical support.62 In 1952, the national government created the Helmand Valley
Authority—later the Helmand and Arghandab Valley Authority (HAVA)—removing 1800
square miles of river valley from local control and placing it under the jurisdiction of expert
commissions in Kabul. The monarchy poured money into the project; a fifth of the central
government’s total expenditures went into HAVA in the 1950s and early 1960s.63 From 1946
on, the salaries of Morrison Knudsen’s advisers and technicians absorbed an amount equivalent
to Afghanistan’s total exports.64 Without adequate mechanisms for tax collection, the royal
treasury passed costs on to agricultural producers through inflation and the diversion of export
revenue, offsetting any gains irrigation produced.
65 Although it pulled in millions in
international funding, HAVA soaked up the small reserves of individual farmers and may well
have reduced the total national investment in agriculture.

HAVA supplemented the initial dam with a vast complex of dams. Two large dams—
the 200 foot high Arghandab dam and the 320 foot high Kajakai dam—for storage and
hydropower were supplemented by diversion dams, drainage works, and irrigation canals.
Reaching out from the reservoirs were 300 hundred miles of concrete-lined canals.66 Three of
the longest canals, the Tarnak, Darweshan, and Shamalan, fed riparian lands already intensively
cultivated and irrigated by an elaborate system of tunnels, flumes, and canals known as juis.

The new, wider canals furnished an ampler and purportedly more reliable water source. The
Zahir Shah canal supplied Kandahar with water from the Arghandab reservoir, and two longdistance
canals stretched out into the desert to polders of reclaimed desert: Marja and Nad-i-
Ali. Each extension of the project required more land acquisitions, more displaced people. To
remain flexible, the royal government and Morrison Knudsen kept the question of who actually
owned the land in abeyance.
No system of titles was instituted, and the bulk of the reclaimed
land was farmed by tenants of Morrison Knudsen, the government, or contractors hired by the

The new systems magnified the problems encountered at the Boghra works and added
new ones. Waterlogging created a persistent weed problem. The storage dams removed silt that
once rejuvenated fields downstream. Deposits of salt or gypsum would erupt into longdistance
canals and be carried off to deaden the soil of distant fields. The Emkayans had to
contend with unpredictable flows triggered by snowmelt in the distant Hindu Kush. In 1957,
floods nearly breached dams in two places and water tables rose, salinating soils throughout the
region. The reservoirs and large canals also lowered the water temperature, making plots that
once held vineyards and orchards suitable only for growing grain.68 After a decade of work,
HAVA could not set a schedule or a plan for completion. As its engineering failures mounted,
HAVA’s symbolic weight in the cold war and Afghanistan’s ethnic politics steadily grew.

Like the TVA, HAVA was a multipurpose river authority. 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.69
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.”70 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. An uneasiness about the massive,
barely-understood forces impelling two thirds of the worl d in simultaneous and irreversible
social movement—surging population growth, urbanization, the collapse of traditional
authority—overshadowed policy toward “underdeveloped” areas. Modernization theory
offered reassurance that the techniques of Point IV could discipline these processes and turn
them to the advantage of the United States. 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.”71
A Strange Kind of Cold War. Following behavioral explanations of development,
U.S. aid officials sought to ally themselves with tutelary elites possessing the transitional
personalities that could generate nonviolent, nonrevolutionary change.72 At first glance, the
king and his retinue appeared almost ideally suited. Educated in Europe and the United
States, royal government officials spoke in familiar terms of ways to engineer progress.

Daoud presided as supreme technocrat. Educated (like the king) in France and at English
schools in Kabul, he became prime minister in 1953. “We members of the royal family,” he
told anthropologist Louis Dupree, “were all trained in the West and have adopted Western
ideas as our own.”73
Since coming to power in 1953, Daoud had accelerated the tempo of
economic development, believing that without rapid growth, Afghanistan would dissolve
into factionalism and be divided among its neighbors. He was sure U.S. and Soviet
generosity sprang from temporary conditions and that his government had only a short time
credibility. The company was “one of the chief influences which maintain Afghan connections
with the West,” Secretary of State John Foster Dulles believed. “Its departure would create a
vacuum which the Soviets would be anxious to fill.”82 He wanted to preserve Afghanistan’s
buffer role, but the perennial provocations along the Durand Line conjured scenarios in
Dulles’s mind in which a Soviet-backed Afghan army attacked U.S.-allied Pakistan—another
Korea, this time beyond the reach of U.S. air and naval power. Daoud’s Pashtun extremism led
his government to welcome Soviet arms while instigating mob attacks on Pakistani consulates
and border posts. In 1955, Dulles dissuaded Pakistan from a plan to overthrow the royal
family, while his brother Allen, head of the Central Intelligence Agency, suggested using against
Daoud the same methods that had recently worked to depose Mossadeq in Iran.83 The United
States wanted to separate the dual ambitions of Pashtun nationalism, preserving Daoud’s
modernization drive while disposing of the Pashtunistan issue.

The Helmand project offered a way to counter Soviet influence by giving Daoud what
he wanted, a Pashtun homeland.
As originally envisioned, HAVA would irrigate enough new
fertile land to settle 18-20,000 families on 15 acre farms.84 Together with Afghan officials,
U.S. advisers launched a program to sedentarize the nomadic Pashtuns whose migrations
were a source of friction with Pakistan.85 To American and royal government officials, this
floating population and its disregard for laws, taxes, and borders, symbolized the country’s
backwardness. Settling Pashtun nomads in a belt from Kabul to Kandahar would create a
secure political base for the government and bring them within reach of modernization
programs.86 Diminishing the transborder flows would eliminate smuggling and the periodic
incidents that enflamed the Pushtunistan issue. A complementary dam development project
in the Indus Valley, also funded by the United States, settled Pashtun nomads on the other
side of the Durand Line.87

HAVA’s mandate included the social reconstruction of the region. Those seeking
land, as well as families already occupying ancestral plots, were required to apply to HAVA
for housing, water, and implements. In the late 1950s, HAVA began constructing whole
communities for transplanted pastoralists in the Shamalan, Marja and Nad-i-Ali, while
simultaneously trying to break the authority of leaders of nomadic clans, known as maliks.
Maliks would lead their people “Moses-like, to the promised land,” according to a U.S.
report. HAVA “always informed the new settlers that they could choose new village leaders,
to be called wakil, if they so desired. None did.”88 Resettled families would receive a pair of
oxen, a grant of 2,000 Afghanis, and enough seed for the first year.89 To replace the need for
winter pastures, the United Nations brought in Swiss experts to teach nomads to use longhandled
scythes to cut forage for sheep from high plateaus.90
But even with the closing of
the border and the attraction of subsidies and well-watered homesteads, it proved difficult to
entice Ghilzai Pashtun to become ordinary farmers. Freer and wealthier than the peasants
whose lands they crossed, the nomads regarded their new Tajik and Hazara neighbors with
contempt. This may have served Kabul’s purposes, too. The government, according to
Hafizullah Emadi, planned to “use these new settlers as a death squad to crush the uprisings
of the non-Pashtun people of the west, southwest, and central part of the country.”91

The Helmand project symbolized Pashtun power, and the royal government resisted
efforts to attach alternate meanings to it.
U.S. advisers made several attempts to imitate the
“grass roots” inclusivity of the TVA. Aiming to dispel tribal feuds and foster a common
professional identity among farmers they established local co-ops and 4-H clubs, but
Daoud’s security forces broke them up. Courting the Muslim clergy was also forbidden.

Agricultural experts found the mullahs to be a progressive force, “constantly look[ing] for
things to improve their communities, better seed, new plants, improved livestock.”92
Regarding religion as an inoculation against communism, policymakers wanted to associate
the Helmand project with Islam. In 1956, the U.S. Information Agency produced “a 45-
minute full color motion picture, which featured economic development, particularly the
Helmand Valley Project, and the religious heritage of Afghanistan.”93 Daoud, however,
regarding the mullahs as a subversive element, discouraged their contact with foreign
advisers and resented, according to U.S. intelligence, “any reference made in his presence to
Islam as a bulwark against communism or as a unifying force.”94

In 1955, Afghanistan became the first target of Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s
“economic offensive,” the Soviet Union’s first venture in foreign aid.95 Over $100 million in
credits financed a fleet of taxis and busses and paid for Soviet engineers to construct
airports, a cement factory, a mechanized bakery, a 5-lane highway from their own border to
Kabul, and, of course, dams. The Soviets constructed the Jalalabad Dam and canal and
organized a joint river development scheme for the Amu Darya River.96 By the 1960s,
Afghanistan had Soviet, Chinese, and West German dam projects underway.97 It was
receiving one of the highest levels of development aid per capita of any nation in the world.98

U.S. News described it as a “strange kind of cold war,” fought with money and technicians,
instead of spies and bombs. The Atlantic called it a “show window for competitive
coexistence.”99 Publicly, U.S. officials said this was the kind of cold war they wanted, just a
chance to show what the different systems could do in a neutral contest. Afghanistan had
become a new kind of buffer, a neutral arena for a tournament of modernization.

As cultural historians have shown, Americans imagined the stakes and the price of
the developmental encounter through literary and cinematic forms. The Rogers and
Hammerstein musical The King and I and bestsellers such as The Ugly American and
Deliver Us From Evil validated modernization theory by associating it with mythic
conventions in which “a ‘hostile’ [Asian] is converted into a ‘friendly’ by the White
American’s display of honor and competence.”100 In a 1962 novel, James A. Michener drew
Afghanistan into a legend of American regeneration. The turbulent Helmand “symbolize[d]
the wild freedom of Afghanistan,” a kind of freedom that once belonged to American
men.101 “It’s great to be an Afghan man,” he affirmed. “You wear a beard and carry a gun.
You don’t pay too much attention to what the government says.”102 Among these nobles,
men who risked their lives to build irrigation works enjoyed precedence. They were “given
extra pay, extra clothes, extra food, and extra women.”103 According to Michener, Soviet
projects in downtown Kabul never received the respect Americans earned by meeting
Afghans on remote plains and joining the battle against the desert. He captured the
dilemmas of progress in two characters: Nur Muhammad, religious, proud, suspicious of
change, and Nazrullah, a foreign–educated expert, impatient, outspoken, and eager for help
from the Americans if possible, the Soviets if necessary. Nazrullah was an engineer,
damming the Helmand with boulders blasted from a nearby mountain. “Each day we must
throw similar rocks into the human river of Afghanistan,” he tells the American narrator.

“Here a school, there a road, down in the gorge a dam. So far, our human river isn’t aware
that it’s been touched. But we shall never halt until we’ve modified it completely.”104 The
narrator tells him of Nur Muhammad’s doubts. “I don’t have to solve the past,” he replies.
“My job is to get water out of that river.”105

Competition altered the significance, but not the fortunes, of the Helmand project in
the 1960s. Launching the “Development Decade,” John F. Kennedy determined not only to
surpass Soviet initiatives but to demonstrate the superiority of American methods of
development.106 Since the superpowers were offering similar kinds of aid, distinctions were
not easily made, but catastrophic crop failures in the Soviet Union and China in 1959 and
1960 clarified the difference. “Wherever communism goes, hunger follows,” Secretary of
State Dean Rusk declared in 1962. Famine in China and North Vietnam proved the
“humane and pragmatic methods of free men are not merely the right way, morally, to develop
and underdeveloped country; they are technically the efficient way.”107 Kennedy
characteristically linked the new policy to the rejuvenation of the United States and the
world, calling for a “scientific revolution” in agriculture that would engage the energies of “a
new generation of young people.”108 Diplomats and aid officials carried the message that
free men ate better. Presidential emissary Averill Harriman sent to Kabul in 1965,
complimented Afghan officials on the new Soviet factories but observed that the real measure
of modernity was the ability to grow food. The Soviets couldn’t, he explained “due to character
of farm work which requires hardworking individuals with personal stake in operation,
rather than hourly paid factory hands paced by machine.”109

Evidence for the efficiency of American techniques was scarce in the Helmand
Valley. The burden of American loans for the project, and the absence of tangible returns
was creating, according to the New York Times, “a dangerous strain on the both the Afghan
economy and the nation’s morale” which “may have unwittingly and indirectly contributed
to driving Afghanistan into Russian arms.”110 Waterlogging had advanced in the Shamalan
to the point that structural foundations were giving way; mosques and houses were
crumbling into the growing bog.111 In the artificial oases, the problem was worse. An
impermeable crust of conglomerate underlay the Marja and Nad-i-Ali tracts, intensifying
both waterlogging and salinization. The remedy—a system of discharge channels leading to
deep-bore drains—would remove ten percent of the reclaimed land from cultivation. A 1965
study revealed that crop yields per acre had actually dropped since the dams were built,
sharply in areas already cultivated but declines were evident even in areas reclaimed from the
desert.112 Withdrawing support from HAVA was impossible. “With this project,” the U.S.
ambassador noted, “the American reputation in Afghanistan is completely linked.”113 For
reasons of prestige alone the United States kept pouring money in, even though by 1965 it was
clear the project was failing. Diplomats complained about having the US reputation and
credibility hang on “a strip of concrete,” but there was no going back. Afghanistan was an
economic Korea, but Helmand was an economic Vietnam, a quagmire that consumed money
and resources without the possibility of success, all to avoid making failure obvious.

Revisions in modernization theory reinforced the new emphasis on agriculture and
the urgency of changing strategy in the Helmand. Dual economy theory, positing a division
of each economy into a self-propelling modern industrial sector and a retrograde but vitally
important agricultural sector, gained the attention of policymakers in the early 1960s.114
“Agricultural development is vastly more important in modernizing a society than we used
to think,” Rostow noted. Agriculture was “a system” like industry, and modernizing it
required “that the skills of organization developed in the modern urban areas of the society
be brought systematically into play around the life of a farmer.”115 Development was still
fundamentally a problem of scarcity, but while the Emkayans had filled voids with water and
power, the Agency for International Development (USAID) sought to build reservoirs of
organization, talent, and mentality.116 Rejuvenating Afghan agriculture, aid officials believed,
would require “a revolution in mental concepts.”117

The Kennedy and Johnson administrations renewed the U.S. commitment to HAVA
with a fresh infusion of funds and initiatives, raising the annual aid disbursement from $16
million to $40 million annually.118 The “green revolution” approach pioneered by the
Rockefeller Foundation would bring a new organizational system into play around the
farmer. In 1967, USAID and the royal government imported 170 tons of the experimental
dwarf wheat developed by Norman Borlaug in Mexico.119 The high-yield seed, together with
chemical fertilizers and tightly controlled irrigation were expected to produce grain surpluses
that would be distributed through new marketing and credit arrangements. Resettlement
subsidies had paid off by the mid-1960s, and the Helmand Valley was beginning to have a
lived-in look. The large corporate and state farms had vanished, and nearly all of the land
that could successfully be farmed was privately held, much of it by smallholders. Legal titles
were still clouded by HAVA’s inattention to land surveys, but the settlers had nonetheless
sculpted wide tracts of empty land into irregular 15-acre parcels divided by meandering juis,
tree-lined canals that served as boundary, water source, and orchard for each farm.120

Unfortunately, the juis system proved incompatible with the new plans. The small,
hilly, picturesquely misshapen fields contributed to runoff and drainage problems and
prevented the regular, measured applications of water, chemicals, and machine cultivation
necessary for modern agriculture. A green revolution would require, in effect, a land reform
in reverse: merging small holdings into large, level fields divided at regular intervals by
laterals running from control gates on the main canals. As the wheat improvement program
got underway, a team of U.S. Department of Agriculture advisers proposed that HAVA
remove all of the resettled families, “level the whole area with bulldozers” an then redistribute
property “in large, uniform, smooth land plots.” 121 HAVA adopted the land preparation
scheme but implementation proved difficult. Farmers objected to the removal of trees, which
had economic value and prevented wind erosion, but they objected chiefly to vagueness of
HAVA’s assurances. HAVA itself acknowledged, as bulldozing proceeded, that questions of
what to do with the population while the land was being prepared, how to redistribute the land
after completion, and whether to charge landowners for improvements were “yet to be worked
out.”122 When farmers “met the bulldozers with rifles,” according to a USAID report, it
presented a “very real constraint” that “consumed most of the time of the American and
Afghan staffs in the Valley throughout the 1960s.”123

The valley’s unrest coincided with Afghanistan’s brief experiment with political
liberalization. Daoud stepped down in 1963, and the monarchy issued a constitution permitting
an independent legislature and government ministries. The economy remained under central
guidance. Political parties were banned, and the king continued to control the army and
maintain a paternal supervision over government, but high ministerial posts went for the first
time to persons outside the royal family.124 Laws requiring women to wear the burqua were
lifted (although custom maintained the practice in much of the country), and restrictions on
speech a nd assembly were eased. In Kabul, an energetic student and café politics emerged, with
daily street demonstrations by socialist, Maoist, and liberal factions while outside of the capital
dissent coalesced around Islamic mullahs who articulated, according to U.S. embassy officials,
“latent dissatisfaction with the low level of economic development and progress in the Afghan
hinterland.”125 In the partyless parliament, ethnic politics took precedence as minority
representatives attacked Pashtun privileges while the majority defended them.126
deadlock, the stalling modernization drive, and the growing burden of external debt fed
perceptions of official ineptitude. The government of prime minister Mohammad Maiwandwal,
which initiated the wheat improvement effort, needed modernization to produce tangible

By 1969, the new grains had spread to a modest 300,000 acres, leading to expectations
of an approaching “yield takeoff,” but in 1971 a drought destroyed much of the crop.
Monsoon rains failed through 1973, reducing the Helmand to a rivulet.127 In 1971, the
Arghandab reservoir dried up completely, a possibility not foreseen by planners.128 With the
coming of détente in 1970, levels of aid from both the United States and the Soviet Union
dropped sharply. The vision of prosperous, irrigation-fed farms luring nomads into their green
embrace proved beyond HAVA’s grasp. Wheat yields were among the lowest in the world,
four bushels an acre (Iowa farms produced 180); farm incomes in the valley were below average
for Afghanistan and declining.129 State Department officials found it difficult to measure the
magnitude of the economic crisis “in Afghanistan where there are no statistics” but student
strikes and the suspension of parliament pointed to a “cre eping crisis” in mid-1972. “The food
crisis,” the embassy reported, “seems to have been the real clincher for which neither the King
nor his government were prepared.”130 In July 1973, military units loyal to Daoud deposed the
king, who was vacationing in Europe, and terminated both the monarchy and the constitution.

U.S. involvement in HAVA was scheduled to end in July 1974, and USAID officials
strenuously opposed suggestions that it be renewed. Nonetheless, when Henry Kissinger
visited Kabul in February , Daoud described the Helmand Valley as an “unfinished symphony”
and urged the United States not to abandon it.131 Kissinger relented. Land reclamation officers
remained with the project, while making little progress against its persistent problems, until the
pro-Soviet Khalq party seized power in 1978.

Soviet economic development also failed to create a stable, modernizing social class.
The Khalq was not broadly based enough to hold onto authority unaided.. Against the threat
of takeover by an Islamic pa rty, the Soviet Union launched the invasion of 1979.132 During the
Soviet war, both sides found ways to make use of the Helmand Valley’s infrastructure. In early
1980, according to M. Hasan Kakar, “about a hundred prisoners” of the Khalq “were thrown
out of airplanes into the Arghandab reservoir.”133
The project’s concrete water channels
provided cover for Mujaheddin fighters, and its broken terrain was the site of intense fighting
between the resistance and Soviet forces as well as among ethnic factions. Soviet troops felled
trees to smash the irrigation canals and extensively mined the fields and orchards, driving the
population into refugee camps in Pakistan.134 The Taliban movement began here, and the
valley provided one of its chief sources of revenue. The opium poppy grows well in dry
climates and alkaline and saline soils.135 In 2000, according to the United Nations Drug Control
Program, the Helmand Valley produced 39 percent of the world’s heroin.136

Official and unofficial post-mortems identified misperceptions at the root of the
project’s failures. Lloyd Baron, an economist given access to the U.S. aid mission’s records in
the 1970s, noted a “development myopia” that identified water scarcity as the sole obstacle to
agricultural abundance. Planners subordinated complex social and political problems within the
more manageable engineering problem of overcoming the water constraint.137 An official
USAID review in 1983 concluded that the project suffered from a commitment/leverage
paradox. The perception that HAVA was a “donor project” relieved the Afghan government
of ultimate responsibility and left the United States without influence to demand corrective

The ongoing critique of modernization theory furnishes a broader context for these
conceptual flaws. James C. Scott explains that the “high modernist” experiments of the midtwentieth
century were founded on a schematic view of the human and natural world that failed
to account for the full range of variation—in motivations, climate, effects (“even a 20% margin
of error…”), and human ingenuity—actually encountered.139 The project’s human subjects
were rendered as productive units, “abstract citizens” whose motives conformed to the goals of
the planner.140 “Any anthropologist could have predicted with confidence,” Arnold Fletcher
observed in 1965, “that the happy notion of settling Afghan nomads on the reclaimed lands
would not work out.
”141 Nonetheless that prediction was not made, or if made, not listened to,
just as two years later HAVA failed to anticipate settlers’ unsurprising objection to being turned
off the land so their homes could be bulldozed.

The goals and effects of the project were never viewed outside the distorting mirror of
modernization theory. Pastoralists produced the country’s primary export and most of its
foreign exchange revenue, and yet HAVA’s plan to convert them into wheat farmers was never
seriously questioned. The outcomes that were hoped for—tax earnings, political stability,
creation of a middle class, resolution of the Pashtunistan issue, national prestige—were seen as
concomitants of eventual developmental success, rather than as goals to be pursued directly.
Precautionary moves were easily brushed aside by the same assurance that time and effort
would bring improv ement. Belief in development imposes, according to Gilbert Rist, a “social
constraint” on the exp​ression of shared doubts.142

If illusions doomed the project they also created and sustained it. HAVA’s evolutionary
advantage was an ability to take on the protective coloration of a succession of modernizing
myths. The disastrous effects of dam-building were visible in 1949 and only became more
obvious as the project grew. But camouflaged by dreams of Pashtun ascendancy and invisible American influence, HAVA was as resilient as modernization theory itself, able to survive repeated debunkings while shedding the blame and the memory of failure. Proponents of a fresh nation-building venture in Afghanistan, unaware of the results of the last one, have resurrected its imaginings. Development aid to the new Pashtun-led government in Kabul, supporters claim, will provide a buffer against terrorism and “prevent future Osama bin Ladens from rising.”143 The centerpiece of the modernization effort, a writer for the New York Times suggests, should be “dams to provide water for irrigation.”144


1 This essay was researched and written between the beginning of the bombing campaign in late September and the mopping up of the last Taliban resistance around Tora Bora in early December 2001. Like many colleagues, I found myself called upon, without benefit of expertise, to place the war in a historical context. The lecture that became this essay was based on materials found in the Indiana University library, online, and in a few archival documents sent by friends. I am grateful to Melvyn Leffler and Andy Rotter for comments on an earlier draft; to David Ekbladh for his contribution of documents; and to Alison Lefkovitz for research assistance.

2 Mildred Caudill, Helmand-Arghandab Valley, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (Lashkar Gah: USAID, 1969), pp. 55-59; Hafizullah Emadi, State Revolution and Superpowers in Afghanistan (New York: Praeger, , 1990), p. 41.

3 Arnold J. Toynbee, Between Oxus and Jumna (New York: Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 12.

4 Ibid., pp. 67-68.

5 Louis Dupree, “Afghanistan, the Canny Neutral,” Nation, September 21, 1964, p. 135.

6 Harry S. Truman, “Inaugural Address,” January 20, 1949, Public Papers of the Presidents, 1949, pp. 114-115.

7 “Point IV,” Fortune, February 1950, p. 88.

8 Henry A. Byroade, “The World’s Colonies and Ex-colonies: A Challenge to America,” Department of State Bulletin 29 (November 16, 1953) 751: 655.

9 Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India (New York: Doubleday, 1960), p. 393.

10 On the history of development ideas, see H. W. Arndt, Economic Development: The History of an Idea (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987); Gerald M. Meier and Dudley Seers, eds., Pioneers in Development (New York: Oxford, 1984; Michael Cowen and Robert Shenton, Doctrines of Development (London: Routledge, 1996. On development as discourse, see Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995); Tim Mitchell, “America’s Egypt: Discourse of the Development Industry,” Middle East Report 21 (March -April 1991) 2: 18-34. On the social sciences and modernization theory, see Robert Packenham, Liberal America and the Third World: Political Development Ideas and Social Science (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973); Nils Gilman, “Paving the World With Good Intentions: The Genesis of Modernization Theory, 1945-1965,” PhD dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 2001; Frederick Cooper and Randall Packard, International Development and the Social Sciences: Essays on the History and Politics of Knowledge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); Christopher Simpson, ed. Universities and Empire (New York: New Press, 1998).

11 Edward Shils, “Political Development in the New States,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 2 (April 1960) 3: 265.

12 Clifford Geertz observed that this double sense of time was what gave “new-state nationalism its peculiar air of being at once hell-bent toward modernity and morally outraged by its manifestations.” Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), p. 243

13 James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine: Development, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in the Third World (New York: 1990), pp. 254-56; Michael E. Latham has also made this point. See Modernization as Ideology: American Social Science and ‘Nation Building’ in the Kennedy Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), p. 181.

14 Latham, “Introduction: Modernization Theory, International History, and the Global Cold War” in Staging Growth, ed. by David Engerman, et al (Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, forthcoming 2002).

15 Curzon, quoted in Cuthbert Collin Davies, The Problem of the North-West Frontier, 1890-1908 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1932), p. 153.

16 Defining the Pashtun threat in the absence of reliable linguistic or pigmentary markers was a vital strategic and scientific undertaking. A summary of the early ethnographic work is contained in John Cowles Prichard, Researches into the Physical History of Mankind, 3rd ed., (London: Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper, 1844), 4: 81-91; see also Maj. H. G. Raverty, “The Independent Afghan or Patan Tribes,” Imperial and Asiatic Quarterly Review and Oriental and Colonial Review 7 (1894): 312-326; Lt. R. C. Temple, “Remarks on the Afghans Found Along the Route of the Tal Chotiali Field Force in the Spring of 1879,” Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 49 (1880) 1: 91-106; H. W. Bellew, The Races of Afghanistan (Calcutta: Thatcher, Spink, and Co., 1880). See also Conrad Schetter, “The Chimera of Ethnicity in Afghanistan,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung October 31, 2001, http://www.nzz.ch/en....ghanistan.html, accessed November 9, 2001; on the importance of ethnology to the colonial mission, see Gyan Prakash, Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), pp. 26-30.

17 Lt. Gen. Sir George McMunn, Afghanistan from Darius to Amanullah (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1929), pp.225-228; Sultana Afroz, “Afghanistan in U.S. Pakistan Relations, 1947-1960,” Central Asian Survey 8 (1989) 2: 133.

18 Davies, Problem, pp. 162-3; Sulzberger, “Nomads Swarming Over Khyber Pass,” New York Times, April 24, 1950, p. 6; On the British construction of “Afghanistan,” see Nigel J. R. Allan, “Defining Place and People in Afghanistan,” Post-Soviet Geography and Economics 41 (2001) 8: 545-560.

19 W. K. Fraser-Tytler, Afghanistan: A Study of Political Developments in Central and Southern Asia (London: Oxford University Press, 1953), p. 332. British officials located the Muhammadzai’s homeland in Hastnagar, which is now in Pakistan. India Army, General Staff, A Dictionary of the Pathan Tribes (Calcutta: Superintendent of Government Printing, 1910), p. 34.

20 Ibid, p. 71; Maj. Gen. J. G. Elliott, The Frontier, 1839-1947 (London: Cassell, 1968), p. 53. Afghan nationalists believed Britain had secretly annexed Afghanistan by supporting the Mohammadzai, leading the constitutionalist “Young Afghan” movement to assassinate both the king, Nadir Shah, and his brother, Mohammad Aziz, who was ambassador to Germany. An attempt was also made on the British embassy. Hasan Kakar, “Trends in Modern Afghan History, in Afghanistan in the 1970s, edited by Louis Dupree and Linette Albert (New York: Praeger,1974), p. 31.

21 McMunn, Afghanistan from Darius, p. 228.

22 Akbar S. Ahmend, “An Aspect of the Colonial Encounter in the North-West Frontier Province,” Asian Affairs 9 (October 1978) 3: 319-327.

23 Rudyard Kipling, The One Volume Kipling (New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1932), p. 735.

24 Olaf Caroe, The Pathans-550 B.C.-A.D. 1957 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1958), p. 430.

25 In 1962, Louis Dupree tried a free association experiment on students at Kabul University using the terms “Afghanistan,” “United States,” etc. Students identified Afghanistan and the U.S. as “white” countries, Pakistan and India as “black-skinned.” Dupree, “Landlocked Images: Snap Responses to an Informal Questionnaire,” AUFS Reports , South Asia Series, 4 (June 1962) 5: 51-73.

26 Arnold Fletcher, Afghanistan: Highway of Conquest (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1965), p. 245. Fletcher attests that “Pushtoonism” was the base of the new Afghan nationalism.

27 Alfred Janata, “Afghanistan: The Ethnic Dimension,” in The Cultural Basis of Afghan Nationalism ed. by Ewan W. Anderson and Nancy Hatch Dupree (London: Pinter Publishers, 1990), p. 62.

28 The campaign against the Kuhestani Tajiks north of Kabul was particularly severe. Prisoners were executed by being blown from the mouths of cannon. “Eleven Afghans Blown from Guns at Kabul,” New York Times, April 6, 1930, p. 8; “Afghan Revolt Reported,” New York Times, November 21, 1932, p. 7; Vladimir Cervin, “Problems in the Integration of the Afghan Nation,” Middle East Journal 6 (Autumn 1952) 4: 407.

29 Bhalwant Bhaneja, Afghanistan: Political Modernization of a Mountain Kingdom (New Delhi: Spectra, 1973), p. 20.

30 Louis Dupree, “A Note on Afghanistan,” American Universities Field Staff Reports (hereafter AUFS Reports), South Asia Series, 4 (August 1960) 8: 13.

31 Afghanistan was the type of “illegible” state described by James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State (New Haven: Yale, 1998), pp. 77-78.

32 Rosita Forbes, “Afghan Dictator,” Literary Digest, October 16, 1937, p. 29.

33 Wilber, Afghanistan, pp. 238-243.

34 “Not the barren politics of abstractions and principles, but the warm, cruel politics of the heart.” Lawrence Durrell, Prospero’s Cell (New York: Marlowe and Company, 1996), p. 72.

35 “Karakul Sheep,” Life, July 16, 1945, pp. 65-68; Peter G. Franck, “Problems of Economic Development in Afghanistan,” Middle East Journal 3 (July 1949) 3: 302.

36 Abdul Haj Kayoumy, “Monopoly Pricing of Afghan Karakul in International Markets,” Journal of

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