Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2010/01/03

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Subject: [Leica] IMG: Afghanistan followup
From: photo at (Nathan Wajsman)
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 2010 20:44:01 +0100
References: <> <> <>

This probably belongs on the LUG Forum, but anyway.

Notwithstanding my admiration for Hugh as a person and for his dedication to 
the goal of bettering the lives of these miserable people, I feel that we in 
the civilized world should just give up on the place. I see no justification 
why any American or British or Dutch or Danish soldier should die in that 
country. If the people there want to spend their time killing each other and 
abusing their women, let them. The only objective for us is to make sure 
that no terrorism directed at us emanates from places like Afghanistan or 
Pakistan. If that means building walls around those places (figuratively 
speaking), then so be it.


Nathan Wajsman
Alicante, Spain


On Jan 3, 2010, at 6:43 PM, Spencer Cheng wrote:

> Nathan,
> Yes it is bleak but much of the same could be said for the whole region or 
> many dry places on this planet. Hughes picture accurately reflects that 
> reality.
> People have lived, and, yes, eked out a living for far longer than any 
> recorded civilization. Most of them are very poor and want a better life 
> for themselves and their children. Many live a dogmatic existence because 
> that is how they and all the generations before them was raised. They are 
> no different than you and I in many ways. The difference is about 2 
> generations of education.
> Our guide from my Karakoram Highway cycling trip in 1998 told me of his 
> childhood from before the construction of the KKH. He spoke of poverty as 
> a child, of extreme isolation in the winter time, of eating dried apricots 
> in every form (soup, stew, dried, shredded,...) for months on end when the 
> villages were cut off from the world. He spoke of his hope for his 
> children. He has a Bachelor in Economics but chose to work as a guide 
> because the pay was better and he got the chance to spend his life 
> outdoors amongst some of the greatest scenery in the world instead of 
> being stuck in a office. His wife was a doctor. They were Ismaili, more 
> liberal than most. I lost track of him several years ago.
> Our innkeeper in the tourist town of Karimabad (a spectacular setting if 
> there ever was one) asked how to bootstrap his region, the northern end of 
> Pakistan, next door to Afghanistan. All I could offer then as advice was 
> to educate his people. It's the same advice I would offer today if they 
> had any security. They are just too far from transportation hubs.
> The desolate landscape makes me think of the moon when I was cycling 
> through it but then the road would go around a corner and all the sudden 
> there would be a lovely patch of intense green whenever there is some flat 
> area which can be irrigated and cultivated. A village or town would form 
> and prosper.
> My comment to my wife back in 2002 was that it will be a 
> multi-generational effort to bring this strife torn region into the modern 
> world. Ted et al has expressed the same opinion. Unfortunately, our 
> cynical leaders are incapable of, or unwilling to express this reality 
> because they have to deal with their political reality, the next election.
> I too admire Hugh for trying.
> My main point is really that we should not give up hope but we should also 
> deal with the reality that this is a long road which I fear western 
> democracies are not willing to walk to the end. The British tried and 
> failed. The Russians did no better.
> Democracy in this part of the world will look more like totalitarianism 
> for 50 years (feudalism, tribalism) than our version of democracy but that 
> too will pass if there is the will.
> To bring this message to back on topic, I took my M4P when I went and the 
> wide angles sure came in handy. The scenery is awe inspiring and the 
> people are friendly. If you ever get a chance to visit, don't leave your 
> Leica behind.
> Regards,
> Spencer
> On Jan 2, 2010, at 12:01, Nathan Wajsman wrote:
>> It is almost pointless to comment on these photos from a photographic 
>> point of view. It all just seems so bleak.
>> You are a brave man to try to make it better.
> _______________________________________________
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In reply to: Message from photo at (Nathan Wajsman) ([Leica] IMG: Afghanistan followup)
Message from spencer at (Spencer Cheng) ([Leica] IMG: Afghanistan followup)