Almost every American today knows Afghanistan is located in the heart of Asia. We were not always that informed. When my wife and I learned in the summer of 1964 that we would be going as Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) to Afghanistan, our family members and friends thought we were off to Africa. But after the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the ensuing military and civil presence of the US in that country, Americans are familiar with even more than the location of Afghanistan.
Yet images today of Afghanistan are rarely positive. There is little reporting on that nation’s rich culture and history, the renowned hospitality of the Afghan people, or its stunning physical beauty. Instead, reports of suicide bombings, loss of civilian and military lives, gender inequality, religious extremism, poppy cultivation, and allegations of corruption and election fraud dominate the news and suggest a troubled future.
Editor’s Note: A shorter version of this article by Thomas Gouttierre, “Images of Afghanistan,” appeared in the Omaha World-Herald, February 28, 2011, 1–2.
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