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The 1969 "summer of love" even infected societies in places like Kabul, Afghanistan.

Hasan Nouri, an award-winning humanitarian who I talked to the other day, was a professor at the University of Kabul in 1969 where he actually witnessed women wearing miniskirts.  There was freedom of expression, music, art, culture, cinemas... all before the soviet invasion, post-soviet civil wars, Taliban rule and current U.S. intervention.  After over 3 decades of war, everything has been smashed to pieces.

Nouri was a man ignored by Congress 5 years before 9/11 as he pitched a peace plan that could stabilize his native Afghanistan.  Congressman Ed Royce once said: "If we listened to Hasan Nouri, we could have prevented 9/11".  His innovative plan is based on the premise that Afghanistan's future lies in it's past.  He advocates returning to a constitutional monarchy like the one under the benevolent King Zahir Shah who ruled from the 30s until a coup ousted him in 1973.  It was considered the longest stable and peaceful period in Afghan history.

This is his story - one in which he was almost a hero.  This article, pasted below, can also be found at The Huffington Post

by Michael Hughes

Those Were the Days
Not only did the 1969 "summer of love" transform the culture of an entire generation in America, its global reach infected societies in faraway places such as Kabul, Afghanistan.

"When I was a professor at a very young age at the University of Kabul in 1969 - 1970 I witnessed miniskirts," Hasan Nouri, a civil engineer and award-winning humanitarian told me as he recounted days past in his native Afghanistan. "Before the Soviet invasion, Kabul had hospitals, museums, music, religious tolerance and freedom of expression."

Mr. Nouri said it was all made possible because the Afghan nation actually enjoyed a period of relative peace and stability under King Mohammed Zahir Shah for decades from the 1930s until his overthrow and exile in 1973. Nouri has always believed Afghanistan could see stability once again and even formulated a peace plan in the mid-1990s to establish a new regime under Zahir Shah.

Unfortunately, Nouri's peace plan largely fell on deaf ears in the U.S., and America ended up paying a heavy price. In a Congressional Club meeting Congressman Ed Royce once said: "If we had listened to Hasan Nouri, Sept. 11 would have never happened."

Mr. Nouri corrected the Congressman and responded:

I disagree with Congressman Royce. You did listen to Hasan Nouri. It was Congressman Royce who organized the historic Congressional Hearing of 1996. It was Congressman Royce who cosponsored the Senate Hearing of 1996 revealing the atrocities of Taliban. Sir, I can never thank you enough for what you have done for America and Afghanistan

It's too bad others didn't listen.

Afghanistan's Cultural Ruin
In the late sixties and early seventies Nouri watched as Communist ideology spread throughout the universities in Afghanistan as quickly as miniskirts did. Soviet indoctrination had been effective up to that point as an intellectual movement, but then in 1979 the Soviets committed the calamitous folly, in defiance of history, of forcefully invading Afghanistan - because the one thing Afghans have consistently rallied against is a foreign invader.

The disappointment in Mr. Nouri's voice was palpable when he described the absolute annihilation of Afghan culture and society from more than thirty years' worth of instability, repression and destruction wrought from the Soviet occupation, the post-Soviet civil wars, Taliban rule and now the nine-year-old U.S.-led intervention.

Mr. Nouri has not only grieved for his native country, he has also shed plenty of tears for his new homeland: America. In the wake of 9/11, the tears Mr. Nouri cried were ones of tragedy because if the United States of America had heeded the admonitions he gave in Congressional testimonies, three thousand people that perished in the Twin Towers on that day might still be alive.

A Humanitarian Perspective
Mr. Nouri has participated in pivotal moments in the history of both his homelands. His American adventure began when Hasan's elite family in Afghanistan sent him to Georgia Tech during the sixties. From there he went on to become a successful civil engineer and left his imprint on both U.S. and Afghan societies through his work. He's the recipient of the prestigious Herbert Hoover Medal, a humanitarian award, which puts him in select company with Jimmy Carter and Dwight Eisenhower.

In 1984, Nouri and Dr. Robert Simon founded the nonprofit International Medical Corps (IMC) to provide health services in war-torn countries, including Afghanistan, where more than 50 M*A*S*H-style medical clinics were established to patch up "freedom fighters". In 1993 Nouri founded International Orphan Care (IOC), a nonprofit that builds orphanages, schools and medical clinics for an estimated 1.5 million children believed to have lost one or both parents during the seemingly ceaseless warfare in Afghanistan.

Because of his experience as an Afghan-American, his humanitarian perspective, his keen insights into Afghan tribal culture and society, and his deep understanding of the evils of war - Hasan Nouri has become one of the foremost experts on Afghanistan in the U.S. - and a voice U.S. leaders, hopefully, will seek out more and more.

Political Pragmatist
Mr. Nouri has always been involved and has enjoyed U.S. politics, considers himself a Republican and was a supporter of the Reagan administration when they funded the anti-Soviet mujahideen movement. However, Hasan isn't blinded by party ideology - he has supported Democrats for President in the past. He actually uses a unique philosophic three-level hierarchy to describe himself: "First and foremost, I am a human being; second, I am an American; and third, I am a Republican."

Although he's a humanitarian, Mr. Nouri also understands sometimes ends do justify the means. When I asked him how he felt about the fact that funding the mujahideen helped create the Osama bin Ladens and Talibans of the world, he shrugged:

"Look, it depends on the values and the politics at the time. The U.S. considers them terrorists today but when Reagan was in office the mujahideen were 'freedom fighters'.... and the Soviets were the ones calling them terrorists. Plus, the Taliban were able to take power in the first place because the U.S. abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew."

Return of the King
In 1993, soon after Nouri formulated his peace plan for Afghanistan, he introduced Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to the ex-king Zahir Shah who had been exiled in Rome. Nouri had sold Rohrabacher on the fact that Zahir Shah, whose 1933-to-1973 reign represented the longest period of stability in Afghan history, was the only person of stature remaining that all sides would respect as a leader who could establish a legitimate government.

The cornerstone to Nouri's peace plan was that the new government would have "no allegiance or loyalty to a particular nation or foreign power." Key components of the plan included constitutional law, compulsory military service, warlord abolition, reconstruction efforts financed by the international community and a ministry devoted to women and children.

History books will assert the plan failed because Zahir Shah could not reach a consensus with powerful Islamist factions; however, Nouri blames the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations for their lack of support and their choosing to prop up moderates already in Afghanistan. Nouri testified before a congressional subcommittee in 1996, five years before the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001 and uttered these haunting words: "Our administration should know that today's Afghan problem will become our problem tomorrow at home."

Fast forward to 2001: A tearful Nouri called Congressman Dana Rohrabacher the day after 9/11 and told him "it tears me to pieces" that Afghanistan had become a safe haven for terrorists. And Hasan stood in front of Congress and told them in testimony dated November 7, 2001:

"Afghanistan unfortunately became the home of terrorists - largely because we abandoned Afghanistan."

Still Time to Right the Course
Today, Hasan said President Obama's sending more troops into Afghanistan and supporting President Hamid Karzai's regime as if there are no alternatives are grave mistakes. Although Nouri curses the previous administration for inserting Karzai, he blames Obama for continuing an unwise policy.

If he had Mr. Obama's ear, Nouri would advise the President to form a committee of Afghan tribal leaders and conduct a Loya Jirga to establish a more legitimate government with no allegiance to outsiders. Hasan points to British imperial history for an example - they tried for 88 years and never succeeded in establishing a stable government in Afghanistan until they established one free of loyalty to the crown.

However, Nouri warns that the U.S. must be careful not to create another Saddam Hussein:

"We need to achieve a happy medium somewhere between Saddam and Karzai."

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush refused to heed Nouri's counsel - one wonders if Obama ever will. Based on the administration's current course, however - we may never see miniskirts in Kabul ever again.

Originally posted to Michael Hughes on Sun May 30, 2010 at 09:46 AM PDT.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Sorry but we are too busy dictating (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, historys mysteries

    what we need, no time for listening we're a superpower dontchaknow.

    Just stay away from my body and my rights, and everything will be just fine. ~LaFeminista Mon May 17, 2010

    by LaFeminista on Sun May 30, 2010 at 09:50:49 AM PDT

  •  no guarantee (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that our intervention then would have been any differently received.

    Not like the Taliban sprung up only because we didn't benevolently intercede. They wouldn't have stopped wanting a religious state simply because there was a benevolent King in charge.

    I think a large portion of blame does fall on the Soviets, there invasion led directly to the Taliban and AQ and Bin Laden.

    No, I am not saying we are blameless, but I am saying that I think the die was cast when the Soviets invaded. Bin Laden wasn't upset with us because we didn't help Afghanistan enough, after all, we provided him and the rest of Mujahadeen with weapons to fight the Soviet invasion.

    He was upset about Palestine, which is the central area around which radical Muslims at the end of the day hate us for. Our actions in Iraq certainly add fuel to that fire no doubt, but the reason 9/11 happened has more to do with Israel and Palestine than Afghanistan and kings.

    •  Taliban ... (0+ / 0-)

      could have been stopped by putting pressure on Pakistan. Without Pakistan's active help Taleban wouldn't have happenned. Taleban was just a part of Pakistan's "strategic depth" policy.

      •  not sure that is true but regardless (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        it wasn't the Taliban that attacked us on 9/11.

        •  not one Afghan on plane (0+ / 0-)

          on 9/11...

          It all goes back to Pakistan.  The Taliban would have never been able to take power if it weren't for Pakistan.  Pakistan madrassas, funded by Saudis, spawned Mullah Omar and company, run by "barely literate" (according to Ahmed Rashid) teachers who taught a perverse version of islam.

          Then, Pakistan and the ISI worked hand-in-hand w/ the Taliban to get them weapons, funds and to help them bribe every warlord and commander in Afghanistan so they would surrender. Without the cash and the guns - no Taliban.

          PLUS - the Taliban FOOLED many and said they wanted to restore the King, thus many tribal elders and even diplomats would rather see this Pashtun group prop up the old Pashtun King.  But the Taliban deceived.

          "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job"

          by Michael Hughes on Sun May 30, 2010 at 10:58:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  There's always a rat, a US rat. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Michael Hughes, mojada

    Though his relatives originally staged the coup to oust him, Zahir Shah, according to Wikipedia:

    In April 2002, while the country was under NATO occupation, Zahir Shah returned to Afghanistan to open the Loya Jirga, which met in June 2002.[18]  After the fall of the Taliban, there were open calls for a return to the monarchy.[16]  Zahir Shah himself let it be known that he would accept whatever responsibility was placed on him by the Loya Jirga.[18]  However he was obliged to publicly step aside at the behest of the United States as many of delegates to the Loya Jirga were prepared to vote for Zahir Shah and block the US-backed Hamid Karzai.[18]

    We always have to EAT the blowback our own shitty actions and policies. Not an ounce of foresight here, only visions of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

    Proud to be against everything the right wing stands for.

    by OleHippieChick on Sun May 30, 2010 at 10:04:03 AM PDT

  •  It is a no win situation... (0+ / 0-)

    but the people saying we need to get out are bascally saying they don't care about Afghanistan.  If we got out now it would degrade into a hell hole with Taliban running around and it will only become a problem for us again with another terrorist strike somewhere originating from Afghanistan.

    •  Thank you... (0+ / 0-)

      but the people saying we need to get out are bascally saying they don't care about Afghanistan.  If we got out now it would degrade into a hell hole with Taliban running around and it will only become a problem for us again with another terrorist strike somewhere originating from Afghanistan.

      ...for your baseless, ignorant, pro-corporate attempt to justify mass murder and American terrorism.

      Illegal Alien: Term used by the descendents of foreign colonizers to refer to the descendents of indigenous people

      by mojada on Sun May 30, 2010 at 11:07:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  people like you keep saying that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jeffersonian Democrat

      about every place we bomb into rubble, and all the while, as the occupations continue, the targets of our benevolent firepower become hell-hole war zones with the very people we claim to be fighting gaining legitimacy through our well-meaning slaughter.

      surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

      by wu ming on Sun May 30, 2010 at 11:18:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  1969? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'll stretch my mind to accept that the Summer of Love that was 1967 took two years to reach Afghanistan. It could also be that some sort of change happened in 1967 and the professor noticed it in 1969 when he arrived.

    The only reason this might matter is to understand how hooked up Afghanistan was with the rest of the world in terms of news and desire for freedom.

    Thanks for this diary. It makes me want to read more about Zahir Shah and his era.

    •  Kabul was on the route overland to India (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Many young Europeans and Americans went overland to India in the late 60's-early 70's thru Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan. It was the cheapest way to get to India from Europe.

      There was a large group of itinerant hippies headed to India in that era. (See the Beatles for example) The earliest ones who went met up and mingled with the locals, who were often welcoming and open to the ferenghi.

      Fast forward to a few years later, and there was not such a fond reception waiting for those travelers.

      I traveled in India in the 80's and found remnants of local attitudes to foreigners formed in that earlier time. It was frustrating, as a foreign face often as not = DFH to them.

      The late 60's must have been the golden era of cultural cross-pollination.

    •  both correct (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the summer of love was actually more than one summer.  It occurred during summer of 1967 and closed with Woodstock in summer of 1969.  So, in order to parallel w/ his professorship I went w. the book end.

      "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job"

      by Michael Hughes on Sun May 30, 2010 at 10:51:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've seen a photo (0+ / 0-)

    of two average and fairly sophisticated-looking sixties women at some nice plaza with a rectangular pool.

    With the current look of the place. Which is the barest outline of a rubble in a dirt of a destruction.

  •  Not long after the Soviet invasion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett, wu ming

    I received a new student in class. She was a teenage Afghani with long fashionably cut dark blonde hair, a "power suit", and a Paris style shoulder bag.  She stood out among the jeans and sweatshirt style of her classmates.

    Obviously a refugee from a small Kabul elite pocket of the most highly westernized and prosperous Afghanis.  This exception to the more stereotypical Afghan crowd scene lingers.

    Congressman Ed Royce once said: "If we listened to Hasan Nouri, we could have prevented 9/11".  His innovative plan is based on the premise that Afghanistan's future lies in it's past.  

    Pardon me if a congressman's comment fails to demonstrate validity.  This world has Michelle Bachman's and John Boehner's too.

    The prevention of 9/11 did not lie in Afghanistan.  There are monkey bars in every park, and which "mastermind" of 9/11 performed the actual tasks of masterminding?

    Afghanistan's curse is that it happens to be one country whose role in 9/11 is not redacted.

  •  Interesting, hmmm .... n/t (0+ / 0-)

    ~we study the old to understand the new~from one thing know ten thousand~to see things truly one must see what is in the light and what lies hidden in shadow~

    by ArthurPoet on Sun May 30, 2010 at 11:13:09 AM PDT

  •  what is it with americans and kings? (0+ / 0-)

    i'm halfway surprised we didn't try to restore the nguyen dynasty in vietnam.

    bad enough we used our military to prop up a UNOCAL man in kabul. a puppet king isn't going to make the miniskirts come back. if he had that kind of sway and ability to build stable afghan coalitions he wouldn't be in exile.

    surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

    by wu ming on Sun May 30, 2010 at 11:15:55 AM PDT

  •  There´s also a piece in FP (0+ / 0-)

    with photos from Kabul in the fifties.

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