Peace Corps Afghanistan: 2003

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Peace Corps was active in Afghanistan from 1962 to 1976. Although President Bush proposed returning the Peace Corps to the country in 2002, the security situation in the country has not allowed a return to Afghanistan but the legacy of the Peace Corps' fourteen years in Afghanistan lives on in the many RPCVs who lives were deeply affected by their work in the country and in the many RPCVs who served in other countries but who now work in Afghanistan in civil affairs, diplomacy, as aid workers in NGO's and as journalists. RPCVs with an Afghan connection include Thomas Gouttierre who became Director of the Center of Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1974; Sarah Chayes (RPCV Morocco) who since 2002 has been responsible for rebuilding homes and schools, creating employment for about 300 people and launching today's most popular local radio station in Kandahar; James Rupert (RPCV Morocco) who has reported on on Afghanistan since the 1980's for Newsday, Bloomberg, and the Washington Post; and Ben Rosen (RPCV Iran) who since 1995 has worked with Teacher's College to produce textbooks, design curriculum, recruit teachers and help local ministries take over these tasks and who returned to Afghanistan in 2003 to help reopen the college.

Peace Corps was active in Afghanistan from 1962 to 1976. Although President Bush proposed returning the Peace Corps to the country in 2002, the security situation in the country has not allowed a return to Afghanistan but the legacy of the Peace Corps' fourteen years in Afghanistan lives on in the many RPCVs who lives were deeply affected by their work in the country and in the many RPCVs who served in other countries but who now work in Afghanistan in civil affairs, diplomacy, as aid workers in NGO's and as journalists. RPCVs with an Afghan connection include Thomas Gouttierre who became Director of the Center of Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1974; Sarah Chayes (RPCV Morocco) who since 2002 has been responsible for rebuilding homes and schools, creating employment for about 300 people and launching today's most popular local radio station in Kandahar; James Rupert (RPCV Morocco) who has reported on on Afghanistan since the 1980's for Newsday, Bloomberg, and the Washington Post; and Ben Rosen (RPCV Iran) who since 1995 has worked with Teacher's College to produce textbooks, design curriculum, recruit teachers and help local ministries take over these tasks and who returned to Afghanistan in 2003 to help reopen the college.


Contents

2003

2003: Afghanistan RPCV Courtney Siceloff protests war over Iraq

Siceloff's entire life has been about peace. He was one of several people hauled to jail for holding a sit-in at Sen. Zell Miller's Atlanta office in November. He and four other anti-war activists refused to leave until they were granted a meeting with the senator, who has supported President Bush's plan to use military force in Iraq. "If you wait until it happens, it's too late," said Siceloff, now facing criminal trespass charges. "The time to act is now." So, as they have every Friday for the past few months, Siceloff and other protesters will picket outside Miller's office on Peachtree this afternoon. Sit-ins, protests and marches may seem like a young person's job, but Siceloff and others are showing that, in some, activism never mellows. As the nation creeps toward a possible war with Iraq, the ranks of anti-war protesters are growing. Plentiful among them are people in their 60s, 70s and older. And that's not all that unusual. "I can't think of an anti-war movement that hasn't started this way," said Charles Chatfield, a retired professor at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, who has studied and written about the history of anti-war sentiment. "They provide the leadership and experience." Chatfield said anti-war activism in every conflict after World War I has been spearheaded by people middle-aged and older. Even Vietnam War protests, which are historically portrayed as growing out of college campuses, started with groups of aging activists who were longtime members of peace and anti-war groups, he said. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "81-Year-Old Pickets Miller Over Iraq" January 10, 2003.


2003: A Peace Corps for Afghanistan

It is not too early to start thinking about what needs to happen in Afghanistan after the war stops. We dare not again simply walk away from this strategic corner of Central Asia when our short-term goals have been reached. Once the Afghans have chosen their leaders, and a responsible, working government is in place, the monumental task of rebuilding this devastated and war-torn nation can only be accomplished with massive help from the West. For centuries, Afghanistan's geopolitical location and strategic importance has rendered it a constant victim of internal and external power struggles, conflict and combat. The world ignores this reality at its peril. If there is a lesson to be learned from our earlier experience in this beautiful but wasted land, it lies in the need for intelligent, appropriate manpower. Afghanistan has been destroyed many times before and each time it was the human capital rather than the physical infrastructure that suffered most. In the past twenty or so years, the flight of more than five million refugees has denuded the country of its pool of responsible leaders, and its educated middle class. This is where a Peace Corps contingent can be highly useful. In the years 1962 to 1973, over 600 Peace Corps volunteers assisted the country in the fields of teaching, medicine, office management, auto mechanics and printers. Hydrology, textile arts, marble and alabaster fabrication and a host of individual projects worked out mutually between the Volunteers and their Afghan supervisors were other endeavors where they made a noticeable contribution. Afghans from every walk of life and in the entire country were introduced to different perspectives on old problems, and fresh ideas. In short, the Volunteers opened windows to the world beyond, much Marco Polo had done when he walked the Silk Road in the XIIth Century. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: PCOL Exclusive. "A Peace Corps For Afghanistan" January 31, 2003.


2003: RPCV Thomas Gouttierre helps Cities in Afghanistan and Nebraska Forge "Sister Cities" Partnership

Forging links between U.S. and Afghan citizens is nothing new for Gouttierre, or for his university, where he also serves as director of its Center for Afghanistan Studies. One of the first things he did upon coming to Nebraska in 1974 was to establish a sister universities tie between UNO and Kabul University. Before that, he had lived in Afghanistan for almost a decade, first as a Peace Corps volunteer, then as a Fulbright Fellow and finally as executive director of the Fulbright Foundation's programs there. Indeed, Goutierre says, plans to link the two cities were in progress as early as the late 1970s, but then "the Communist coup took place and derailed that." With the Communist period followed by the rule of the Taliban, "we didn't have a chance to revisit that again until the Karzai government was established" after the Taliban were routed at the end of in 2001, he notes. Gouttierre said the new opportunity developed as the result of the U.S. antiterrorist campaign in Afghanistan following in the wake of the deadly September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. "There are, I guess, some positive things that may develop from that horrendous event," he said. Gouttierre -- and Nebraska -- have been quick to seize the opportunity to strengthen ties. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: U.S. Department of State. "Cities In Afghanistan And Nebraska Forge "Sister Cities" Partnership" February 3, 2003.


2003: Afghanistan After the War bodes ill for Iraq

People remember Tony Blair's pronouncement that the world "will not walk away from Afghanistan, as it has done so many times before". But Afghans have also listened with astonishment as Americans portray their country's experience since the overthrow of the Taliban as a "success". Now the United States is priming its laser-guided bombs anew, and the attention of the world's media has swivelled to the deserts and oilfields of Iraq. Few in Kabul seem convinced by the repeated assurances ­ from the US government and its military, from the UN and Britain ­ that they will not be forgotten or allowed to lapse back into the bloodshed that prevailed after the occupying Soviet forces were driven out by the CIA-funded and CIA-armed mujahedin in 1989. There are plenty who dislike the presence of the Americans and their allies sweeping around their pot-holed streets in shiny new four-by-fours or army jeeps. This is a city that still has a deeply conservative strain ­ despite all the trumpeting about the liberation of women, many of those on the streets still wear burqas ­ and one whose capacity for trust has been corroded by past international betrayals. But a fear of abandonment ­ or at least a sharp fall-off in international support ­ is palpable and encompasses many international aid agency workers as well as residents. One agency official, a veteran of several previous conflicts, told The Independent: "The Pentagon and the White House have absolutely no policy on Afghanistan." Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: The Independent. "Afghanistan After The War Bodes Ill For Iraq" February 24, 2003.


2003: Dennis Aronson and Susan (Girdler) Aronson married and joined the Peace Corps. Their assignment: Afghanistan.

We met many of our friends through the Peace Corps experience, including several students and Afghan colleagues with whom we have kept in touch over the years. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a former student became a political prisoner and was threatened to be killed. He was released after Amnesty International intervened—and we became AI members. Many of our activities were focused on the third goal of the Peace Corps: bringing the world back home. We gave many presentations about the experience of living in and learning about a different culture and the way the experience made us appreciate what we have here in the United States: a democratic system of government with freedom of speech and movement, educational opportunities and an abundance of clean food and water. (I still appreciate being able to use water out of a tap and not having to boil drinking water.) Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Pomona Magazine. "Dennis Aronson ’63 And Susan (Girdler) Aronson ’63" March 1, 2003.


2003: Almost 40 years ago, after graduating from Pomona College in 1963, Dennis Aronson and Susan (Girdler) Aronson were married and joined the Peace Corps. Their assignment: Afghanistan.

The Peace Corps experience had a profound influence on our lives, our careers, our subsequent volunteer work, many of our personal relationships and our appreciation of being United States citizens. We both taught English as a foreign language (TEFL) in Afghanistan from 1963 to 1965. After our Peace Corps service, we continued in TEFL in Saudi Arabia and in Lebanon. (I took my MA in TEFL at the American University of Beirut.) Back in the United States, Susan taught foreign students, and we were instrumental in establishing an ESL program in West Virginia. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Pomona Magazine. "Dennis Aronson ’63 And Susan (Girdler) Aronson ’63" March 1, 2003.


2003: RPCV Duaine Goodno says the situation in Afghanistan and other countries could deteriorate quickly

My assessment: There may be some incidents around the world in the immediate aftermath of the attack against Iraq, then they will subside. If the U.S. starts taking casualties and uprisings occur elsewhere, then I think the situation could deteriorate rather quickly -- but not just here -- in many locations around the world. The good news is that a major upraising in Afgh is an opportunity to eliminate the enemy and the allied forces are well positioned to do exactly that. The best plan is to stay put and out of sight. Meanwhile we are taking certain precautions, just in case. We will stay alert and continue to assess the situation on a daily basis. Worried, no. Observant, cautious and prepared, always! As for safety. Herat is extremely safe, but not for women. The situation is very difficult with many of the Taliban rules being strictly enforced. Controlled for a long time by one warlord it is a country onto itself. Mazar has been extremely dangerous with factional fight among three warlords. There was a recent brokered cease fire, but it's too early to know if it will hold. Kabul has been extremely safe. I heard before I left that the situation here was deteriorating. I see no evidence of that being true. When I received the email today, saying again that the word is that the situation is deteriorating for women I reacted with alarm. I thought maybe that I was not seeing the problem so I asked. I asked several young women who work at the Gallery of Fine Arts. I was told that they feel very safe. One said that she was sometimes uneasy when at the market, but only there. I was also at Women for Women today, so I asked there. They have many women in and out all day long. I was told that there is no increase in their fear. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: PCOL Exclusive. "After Several Queries In The Last Two Days On The Safety And Security In Afghanistan, I Thought It May Be Helpful To Write A Note About The Two Issues." March 11, 2003.


2003: Obituary for Afghanistan RPCV Carol Helm

Following the death of her husband, Gordon Garber, in 1972 Carol went back to school, earned her teaching degree and joined the Peace Corps. She served in Afghanistan for five years as an instructor at the Institute for Industrial Management, for the Ministry of Education in Kabul Afghanistan. Her major responsibility was teaching business skills to Afghan high school students. Having a love of Afghanistan she continued to live in Kabul, working in an administrative capacity for the US Agency for International Development for the University of Nebraska at Kabul University. She also served with the CARE/Medical Chief Medical Officer at Avicena Hospital in Kabul. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Friends of Afghanistan. "Carol Helm Died March 16, 2003 At Hospice Of The Valley. Born Carol Hope Shaw On December 20, 1922 In Lorain, Ohio, Carol Was A Valley Resident Since 1953." March 19, 2003.


2003: RPCV Scott Phair works with the BluePack Project to help children in Afghanistan

Phair encourages students to travel and to learn about world affairs and different cultures. He taught English as a Peace Corps. volunteer in Afghanistan when he was 22. He was in that country in 1975-76. Phair said the students worked hard to raise money for the BluePacks, and when they presented in public, they did so with grace, ease and professionalism. "They were wonderful," he said. "I'm very proud of these guys." Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Central Maine Daily Sentinel. "Students Raise Money For Afghan Children" March 25, 2003.


2003: Brazil RPCV Dave Miller and Afghanistan RPCV Bob Hull's Firm win awards for socially responsible and humane public architecture

Miller and Hull met while studying architecture at Washington State University in Pullman in the late 1960s and became immediate friends. They graduated in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War and both joined the Peace Corps. Miller spent four years designing and building houses in a satellite city of Brasilia. Hull, meanwhile, traveled to Afghanistan. There he spent 24 months constructing mud brick schools in Kabul. Both said they saw modernism under the influence of regionalism. Both learned to design simply using limited materials and resources. Both learned to build small but efficient buildings. After returning to the United States, Miller worked in Chicago and Hull went to New York City. Eager to return to their native Northwest, they met up in 1976 when they took jobs with a Vancouver, B.C., architecture firm. They accepted the company's offer to open a branch office in Seattle. A year later, they became business partners and started Miller/Hull. In 1978, Miller and Hull moved from the Smith Tower to its current location, 9,000 square feet of open studio space in the Maritime Building. The company has grown to include two other partners — Norman Strong, an architect who oversees the management and business side of the firm and who became a partner in 1985, and Craig Curtis, who became a partner in 1994. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Puget Sound Business Journal. "Sturdy Foundations: Miller/Hull Partnership Finds Stability, Recognition During Soft Economy" March 31, 2003.


2003: If Afghanistan Stays Forgotten, It Won't Forget

Remember Afghanistan? It's the wretched Central Asian country that became a haven for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, which attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon a year and a half ago. When U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban, al-Qaida's hosts, President Bush promised that Americans would make a sustained commitment to helping the country rebuild. And then he forgot about it. The United States said it would promote stability, foster economic growth and encourage a progressive indigenous government that would not shelter terrorists. At least that was the game plan the Bush administration offered for public consumption. But the United States is already reneging on its promise to Afghanistan. After Bush grandly signed a bill last December authorizing $3.3 billion for reconstruction over four years, he neglected to include any of that money in his 2003 budget request. Not one thin dime. Congress hastily penciled in $295 million, but that doesn't come close to Bush's pledge. No wonder poor Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's interim president, was reduced to a round of begging in Washington in February. "Don't forget us if Iraq happens," he implored members of Congress. But his plea for sustained support could not overcome the notoriously short American attention span. Afghanistan is already a distant memory for the news media, for most ordinary Americans and even for foreign-policy hands in the Bush administration. Whatever attention America has left for foreign policy will go to Iraq, where the fight for dollars for reconstruction is only beginning. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Atlanta Journal Consitution. "Atlanta Journal-Constitution April 27, 2003" May 1, 2003.


2003: Life after War: Under the guidance of the President of Afhanistan’s brother, Quyam Karzai, Sarah Chayes set out to rebuild one remote village- thirteen simple houses

Having built a distinguished career reporting from several war zones around the world for NPR, Sara Chayes faced an unexpected challenge while covering the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan. “Why not stop reporting, and really help people?” asked one of her interview subjects. Sarah decided to do just that, and began the incredible odyssey that is described in this film, and is still in progress. Under the guidance of the President of Afhanistan’s brother, Quyam Karzai, Sarah set out to rebuild one remote village- thirteen simple houses. As America starts the rebuilding of Iraq, while continuing to shoulder some responsibility for Afghanistan, Life after War reminds us that rebuilding a village, much less a country is a complicated, humbling, nonlinear process. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Maryland Film Festival. "Life After War" May 2, 2003.


2003: Philip D. Needham's Memories of Afghanistan

During my junior year at St. Lawrence, I received a call from my brother, letting me know he had decided to apply to the Peace Corps. His excitement rubbed off on me, then a restless student wondering about my future path. To improve my chances, I volunteered to go anywhere in the world. I was assigned to a little-known, landlocked country that had attracted conquerors and empire-builders from all sides of the world, a country that was a major stop on the great trade and exploration routes of the past: Afghanistan. From 1964 through 1967, when I returned to St. Lawrence to complete my degree, I taught physical education at Kabul University, the country's only university, in its capital city. The entire experience made unforgettable impressions on my mind, even as it expanded my mind. Today I co-own Needham-Betz Thoroughbreds breeding farm in Lexington, Ky. My interest in horses was nurtured in the Peace Corps; how life unfolds for each of us is a mystery. Afghanistan has been the stage for the advance and decline of powerful religions. I hope it will someday rid itself of the Taliban and return to the progress and development it was enjoying when I was there nearly 40 years ago now. I live some part of every day shaped by my experiences there. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: St. Lawrence University. "Memories Of Afghanistan" May 26, 2003.


2003: Don't Soften the Army, Harden the Peace Corps - and send them into Afghanistan and Iraq

Washington and elsewhere about the possibility of rethinking the mission of the forty-two-year-old agency. This sentiment, by no means universal among the close-knit network of returned volunteers, let alone the current leadership of the agency, found its way into print this week in an op-ed article in the New York Times, written by Avi Spiegel, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco from 1998 to 2000. There aren't any Peace Corps volunteers in Morocco today, because the country is considered too dangerous, and that's precisely the point Spiegel and those who share his view want to make. Spiegel says we need "a more active, less gun-shy Peace Corps," that "should equip itself to enter regions it now deems too dangerous." This move would drastically change the culture of the Peace Corps, so it is no surprise that many of the agency's stalwart veterans and friends are aghast at the idea. The Peace Corps has always considered itself independent of American foreign policy, and these people want it to stay that way. They would rather see war zone humanitarian work done by the UN and international NGO's. But of course, that's a major contradiction, because those organizations – even more than the Peace Corps – are completely independent of American foreign policy, and that's the problem. We need a force of humanitarian workers who will advance American foreign policy by performing genuine humanitarian service. There is no reason why there should be any conflict between the two. Siegel likens the relationship to that between wartime Iraqi military units and their embedded reporters. Both had jobs to do, and did them while establishing good working relationships that, in most cases, increased respect for each side among the other. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Town Hall. "Don't Soften The Army, Harden The Peace Corps" July 25, 2003.


2003: Somber reminders of danger

In the agency's 24-year history, eight of its workers have died while working on Mercy Corps projects. Three of them were lost during a horrendous four-day period earlier this month. One, Raz Mohammad, was killed Aug. 7 in an attack by gunmen near Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan. On Sunday, a Mercy Corps vehicle was attacked in Eritrea. Program officer Habtemariam Tsegay Tegbaru and Haileab Simret Yosief, who had joined the agency nine days earlier, were killed. Their driver, Habtay Tesfaldet Berhe, was shot four times but is expected to recover. The attacks are a reminder that service to fellow human beings can be dangerous work -- especially when it involves the kind of emergency relief that is such a prominent part of Mercy Corps' portfolio. They also underline the bravery and sacrifice of these workers, many of whom are our fellow Portlanders, Oregonians and Northwesterners. One of the remarkable things about this community and region is the sense of service embedded in the culture. Peace Corps officials, for example, never tire of pointing out that the Northwest provides a disproportionate percentage of its volunteers. The attack in Afghanistan, sadly, also underlines a more sobering truth: The United States and the rest of the international community remain far from their goal of establishing a functioning, secure, modern state in Afghanistan. The attack on the humanitarian volunteer came in a region where local warlords, Taliban fighters and meddling agents from nearby Pakistan all compete for power in a near-chaotic atmosphere. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: The Oregonian. "Somber Reminders Of Danger" August 16, 2003.


2003: Letters from Afghanistan by RPCV Eloise Hanner

Eloise Hanner’s fantastic new book, Letters from Afghanistan, details her time spent in Afghanistan with the Peace Corps thirty years ago. The book is a compilation of the letters that she wrote to her mother during her time there, a format that is movingly effective and entertaining. Ms. Hanner was kind enough to share a little of her time and answer a few questions about her book and her writing. " Americans don't view Afghans as normal people who have the same dreams and ambitions as they do. They only think of crazy, turban-wearing extremists and beaten down women. They have no idea of the kindness of the people, what their daily lives are like or how they live. They are often amazed when I tell them that northern Afghanistan is a four-season climate with snow," says Hanner. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: My Shelf. "Before The Title" August 20, 2003.


2003: RPCV says No Stability in Afghanistan

"Soon Afghans will turn against the Americans the way they turned against the Russians," several people have told me in the past week. "And once that happens, nothing will stop them." A businessman added: "Even doctors and engineers took up arms against the Russians." In the past week, a murky dust-cloud ("Khaura") engulfed Kandahar. Popular wisdom associates this phenomenon with an imminent change of regime. Kandaharis were harking back to the fall of Daud Khan and Amanullah - when, they said, a similar dust storm obscured view for days. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Transom. "On The Ground. No Stability," August 28, 2003.


2003: Glimpses of Afghanistan: A Country Director looks back on the 1960's (Part 1)

I had been in-country only for a few days when I held my first staff meeting in the rather spare Peace Corps Office. The windows were open, it was mid-June, and I opened with what I thought were fairly commonplace remarks. In the wink of an eye, the room emptied. Everyone but me rushed out and gathered in the middle of the street. I was stunned. What had I said? I leaned out of the window and asked "What happened?" My entire staff, grinning from ear to ear, motioned me to come down and join them. Once I got to the street, they asked me " Didn't you feel the earthquake?" I said 'No.'. They laughed some more. "You will!" and indeed I did. The shocks occurred almost weekly. The really serious earthquakes that hit Tashkent and Dushanbe (then part of the Soviet Union) demolished them with 6.0 and 7.3 Richter quakes, but Kabul just had these 'minor' temblors. Early one morning in our second year in Kabul, I woke up, annoyed at my wife. "Stop scratching, you woke me up." "I'm wasn't scratching, Walter. It's just another earthquake, look at the lamp swaying above our bed. Get the kids up, and out into the garden. MOVE IT", she yelled as the shaking got worse. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: PCOL Exclusive. "Glimpses Of Afghanistan: A Country Director Looks Back On The 1960'S (Part 1)" September 14, 2003.


2003: New Alameda County Superior Court Judge John Marshall True III served in Peace Corps in Nepal and in Afghanistan

Gov. Gray Davis Thursday named Berkeley attorney John Marshall True III to the Alameda County Superior Court. A graduate of UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall, True is a partner with Leonard Carder LLP, an Oakland law firm. The new jurist didn’t take straight to law school after earning his bachelor’s degree. “I spent six years in the Peace Corps in Nepal and in Afghanistan,” he said. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Berkeley Daily Planet. "Davis Picks Berkeley Lawyer For Judgeship" September 19, 2003.


2003: RPCV Cheryl Ray is the director of a scholarship program to bring Afghan graduates to the United States

Ray has had a long love affair with Afghanistan. Ray served in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan from 1971 to 1972, and liked the country so much she stayed on as a businesswoman dealing in carpets and antiques until the Soviet invasion in 1979. In 2001, long after Ray moved to Walla Walla, a friend from the old days called, asking for a favor. Mary MacMakin, the director of Parsa, a non-governmental humanitarian organization in Afghanistan, had been kicked out of the country by the Taliban. She asked Ray to go back in to check on the organization's programs. Ray spent a week there and was nearly jailed before fleeing the country on the eve of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But a few months later, she was on her way back to Afghanistan to work for Parsa. She also joined the staff of Sima Samar, the Afghan Minister of Women's Affairs. While on Samar's staff, she was sent to Washington D.C., to lobby Congress, and obtained a pledge for $2.5 million to create women's development centers in Afghanistan. Fourteen of those centers are now open. ``There are millions of widows because of the war,' she said. ``That has created a crisis for families trying to take care of them, but it also creates an opportunity for them to be allowed to do something on their own.' Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Walla Walla Union Bulletin. "Despite Dangers, Woman Heads Back To Afganistan" October 1, 2003.


2003: Interview with Sarah Chayes: Danger, Determination and Destiny

Afghanistan is a compelling place ... . As for me, though I've been called a war reporter, I'm not drawn to conflict; I am drawn to what happens afterward, to the chaos and promise of societies recovering from war. In fact, the only moment I had a twinge of regret that I wasn't covering the Iraq war was the day Baghdad fell. I'm also rather spartan in my habits and tastes, and I think it's the ruggedness of this land and its people, their tenaciousness, their refusal to bend -- sometimes to a fault -- that draws me. And in contrast to other places I'd been, notably the Balkans, I felt strongly there were a few people acting in the true interests of their country. I felt I just had to throw my lot in with them. Chayes walks through Akokolacha seeking Haji Baba, for whom they were building a new home. How dangerous is it for you in Kandahar these days? We read reports of resurgent Taliban attacks, and a U.S. envoy warned recently that the Taliban may be planning larger attacks. Four people working for a Danish relief group were killed in Ghazni in central Afghanistan, and two members of the Afghan Red Crescent were killed in the same area along the Kabul-to-Kandahar road on which we see you driving in the beginning of the film. Is the security situation deteriorating? I don't think it's immediately dangerous for me in Kandahar: I'm well known around town, and I'm known to enjoy powerful backing. I am connected with the Karzais [the president's family], and I'm seen, if not as "an American," at least as connected with the Americans in some way. What's important to understand about this culture is that security is not based so much on protection -- on how many guards I might have -- as on the certainty of retaliation should anyone try something. For the moment, I enjoy that kind of deterrence. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: PBS. "Interview With Sarah Chayes: Danger, Determination And Destiny" October 1, 2003.


2003: RPCV Ron Di Orio writes on "What form of government will work in Afghanistan?"

Now while some would assert that this is because of the backwardness of Afghanistan, or in the Marxian sense a population that has been stuck in feudalism and lacks the development of a bourgeois class, or because development has been thwarted due to religious reasons, from the point of nation building, it is perhaps the result that is important more so than the causes. That is, there is an identifiable consciousness of being a resident of Afghanistan amongst all the ethnic groups that comprise current day Afghanistan. Note, however, that I have hesitated to use the term "Afghan", and purposely so. This is because "Afghan" can be and often is virtually synonymous with "Pushtoon". And here lies one of the main problems as far as what the future government of Afghanistan might be. For it is safe to say that there can be little doubt that despite the consciousness previously alluded to in the above paragraphs as existing amongst all ethnic groups, no modern independent state in the area comprising Afghanistan would exist had it not been for the existence of the "Afghan" Pushtoon/Pukhtoon tribes that gave identity to Afghanistan. What has all this to do with the question at point, the form of the future government of Afghanistan, the reader by now undoubtedly bored with the above exposition may be asking? I have presented the above in order to demonstrate that the central problem with the form of future government in Afghanistan is the Pushtoon question. There can probably never be a successful government in Afghanistan that more or less takes into account the needs and desires of all the population of Afghanistan as long as the only "Afghans" are the Pushtoons. This would be like saying the only "Americans" are those of white English Protestant descent, despite the fact that the population of the United States would be, by this standard, largely composed of non-"Americans", just as the majority of the population of Afghanistan is composed of non-"Afghans", although Pushtoons remain the largest single ethnic group. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Personal Web Page. "What Form Of Government Will Work In Afghanistan?" October 13, 2003.


2003: Turkey RPCV Author and Ambassador Robert Finn to lecture on Afghanistan

Finn was the first U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan in over 20 years and is currently the Ertegun Visiting Professor in the Near East Studies Department at Princeton University. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Tajikstan from 1998 until July 2001, and has held diplomatic positions in Turkey, Pakistan and Croatia. He also opened the U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1992. Shahrani said Finn resigned as ambassador in protest of recent U.S. activity in Afghanistan, making way for David Sedney, former director for Afghanistan at the National Security Council, to assume the role of ambassador. "(Finn) was a trusted man among the Afghan people," Shahrani said. "He is a man of principle." Shahrani said he hopes the former ambassador speaks his mind. "I hope the real story of what the United States war on terrorism in Afghanistan has been like during the last two years is discussed." Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: IDS News. "Former Diplomat To Visit Iu" October 22, 2003.


2003: Afghanistan RPCV Chet Orloff lectures on "The History of History"

Orloff will host a conversation on "the history of history" in Oregon, beginning with the earliest forms of remembering and documenting life among the first Oregonians based a record of their presence on the earth and the rocks, and in their tools. Throughout his career, which began in Afghanistan as a Peace Corps teacher, Orloff has worked to create a sense of place. His work includes teaching, writing, exhibit design and development, and interviewing. He is the current managing director of the Pamplin Institute, and initiated Oregon's Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Celebration. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Oregon Live. "Crossroads Lecture Tapsformer Ohs Director For Oregon History Talk" November 13, 2003.


2003: Former Director Mark Schneider, to testify on Afghanistan Constitution and Prospects for Democracy at House Committee on International Relations

The next major step in the political reconstruction of Afghanistan, as outlined by the Bonn Conference agreement of 2001, is adoption of a constitution in December and subsequent national elections for government leaders and parliament. The draft constitution, crafted by a 35-member commission, establishes a governmental structure with a strong elected presidency, subject to substantial checks and balances by an elected parliament. The draft sets up a two-chamber parliament, to be elected one year after the presidential elections. The draft gives the president the ability to appoint one-third of the seats for the upper chamber (Meshrano Jirga, House of Elders), and stipulates that half his appointments should be women. The lower house (Wolesi Jirga, House of People) is to be fully elected. The draft constitution designates former King Zahir Shah as ceremonial "father of the nation," but gives him no formal role in governance. The draft does not impose Sharia (Islamic law), but it does attempt to satisfy Afghanistan's conservative clerics by stipulating that laws should not contradict Islamic law. Protections for minorities are also written into the draft. However, some observers say the draft constitution does not provide sufficient protections for human rights, such as for freedom of speech and religion, and that it places the freedoms of Afghans in the hands of judges educated in Islamic law, rather than civil law. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Committee on International Relations. "News Advisory" November 19, 2003.


2003: Former Peace Corps Director Mark L. Schneider testifies before Congress on Situation in Afghanistan

The Afghan government, the UN and the U.S. and coalition forces all are committed to the Bonn schedule and to building democratic institutions. Dedicated soldiers, diplomats, USAID, UN and non-governmental aid workers are risking their lives trying to help Afghans build a nation free of Al Qaeda, Taliban, and renegade warlords. The murder of a young UN refugee worker this past weekend in Ghazni, a car bomb last week outside the UN office in Kandahar and a rocket attack on the UN disarmament event days after I left Gardez are some of the latest examples of the terror strategy Taliban and al Qaeda have used to attack the soft target of international civilian agencies and NGOs and derail reconstruction and the political transition. Nevertheless, much has been accomplished: more than 2 million refugees have returned since 2001 (although several million more still remain outside Afghanistan); the Karzai government has established basic administration and ended flagrant government abuse of human rights (although abuses by warlords still persist); and immunizations have reached some 90% of children, many of whom have the chance to go to school for the first time. However, a lack of security has made more sweeping progress impossible. It forced postponement of the Constitutional Loya Jirga (the traditional national assembly) from September to December 10. Even that date is extremely tenuous since the copies of the draft Constitution still had not reached all provinces until a week ago. Holding Presidential elections next June will likely prove even more challenging. The election of a Parliament, crucial to establishing a functioning democracy, is likely to slip until 2005. Democracy requires participation, open campaigning without intimidation and public discussion, all of which require a minimum of stability. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: PCOL Exclusive. "Testimony Of Mark L. Schneider, Sr. Vice President, International Crisis Group To The House International Relations Committee Hearing On Afghanistan" November 19, 2003.


2003: Glimpses of Afghanistan: A Country Director looks back on the 1960's (Part 2)

When I first arrived in Afghanistan there were more than 50 peace Corps nurses working in hospitals in all the major cities. Within a few months, however, they started to quit in droves. " I can’t take it anymore," one told me. "I came here to help, but instead the Afghan doctors are chasing me all around the OR., there are no clean needles, no alcohol, the autoclave doesn’t work, and they let the cholera vaccine spoil in the open air instead of refrigerating it. Send me home!" I warned them it would cost them $ 575 if they quit voluntarily. "I don’t care," they said. One nurse who complained vigorously about her Chief Nurse ( an Afghan male nurse) called him an s.o.b. I remonstrated by asking if she never found that to be the case where she came from in East St. Louis. "No!" she answered me. So I gave her 20 ¢ in American money and asked her to send me a postcard at Christmas reporting on what she found when she came home. Sure enough, a picture of the arch above St. Louis showed up a few months later in which she said, yes, it was just as bad in Missouri, and she wished she were back in Afghanistan. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: PCOL Exclusive. "Glimpses Of Afghanistan (Part 2)" November 30, 2003.


2003: Colombia in Kabul by Former Director Mark L. Schneider

In early November, traveling in Afghanistan, the smell, feel and magnitude of the drug threat evokes Colombia. We are increasingly seeing both government-affiliated militias and armed insurgent groups in Afghanistan become reliant on poppy; just as every guerrilla and paramilitary group in Colombia descended into financial dependence upon the cocaine trade. A security vacuum in the countryside gave illegal military forces free reign at a time when the central government had abandoned rural Colombia and offered little opportunity for economic development. Similarly, insecurity in rural Afghanistan today is rising as resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda forces carry out hit-and-run terror attacks from bases in Pakistan as well as redoubts in Afghanistan. Poppy production is believed to finance some of the opposition forces operating from within Afghanistan. Some Afghan officials and commanders are also enmeshed in the drug trade. Effective law enforcement is virtually nonexistent. At present, the coalition military forces of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) don't have policing the drug trade in their mandate, and there are only a few token programs aimed at alternative economic development Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Washington Times. "Colombia In Kabul" December 4, 2003.


2003: From Radio Reporter to Relief Worker, Sarah Chayes Wanted to Make a Difference

Chayes lives with other relief workers in a compound, where she grows her own vegetables. She also has two cows, which means fresh milk. She even has a generator, which means a hot shower — when it works. She is now the field director at Afghans for a Civil Society and was profiled in a film made by an American, Brian Knappenberger, to raise awareness about Afghan society. The filmmaker showed Chayes during a typical day, trying to convince some local officials that she needed foundation stone to rebuild houses. When the Taliban were driven out of this region almost two years ago, the United Nations and various relief agencies came in to help, but it is a struggle. There is no government to speak of in many towns and provincial warlords cause further destruction as they fight each other. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: ABC News. "Rebuilding Afghanistan" December 5, 2003.


2003: Morocco RPCV Sarah Chayes discovers the exhilarating power speaking the truth as she sees it

"Wouldn't you come back and help us?" The gentle question, almost an afterthought, struck me like the bolt from a crossbow. It was after dinner with one of my favorite, if sparingly used, sources during the post-9/11 conflict in Afghanistan. Aziz Khan Karzai, uncle of President Hamid Karzai, is a spry gentleman, full of good humor and energy, whose mischievous glance camouflages a penetrating regard upon the situation of his country – stripped of illusions. This was in January 2002. I had completed a long rotation for National Public Radio, reporting from Pakistan and Afghanistan. For once I was wrapping up with some kind of dignity, making the rounds and drinking a last cup of tea with friends and contacts. Aziz Khan had invited me for dinner the night before I flew out. We talked about the steep road that lay ahead for fledgling Afghanistan. After dinner, I got up to leave, and then came his question: "Wouldn't you come back and help us?" My ears heard with surprise what my mouth said without hesitation. "Yes." Surely it's not just me. Surely all of us struggle with the value of what we do as journalists – with the impact (or lack of it) of our work on the lives of the people we report about, or on any people for that matter; on the quality of public policy in our field; in short, with whether we, as journalists, help. Surely all of us come to some sort of accommodation – more or less self-deluding – with this problem. Over time, freelancing in Paris, I had come to my own: that given the paucity of foreign news in the U.S. media, just being a foreign correspondent was a kind of subversion. If by the end of my career, I told myself, I had convinced some Americans that the United States is not the only country in the world, I would have achieved something. Reporting for NPR, long a goal for me, further hushed my concerns. But after an exciting period covering the Balkans, beginning with Kosovo, I began to feel the old doubts return. A succession of food stories in early 2001 – the mad cow crisis, a vegetarian three-star restaurant, an effort by Mondavi to buy out a Languedoc vineyard, etc. – gave voice to an indictment: "What am I doing? Spending my time entertaining well-to-do Americans with the foibles of well-to-do Europeans." I began groping for alternatives. Then came Sept. 11. What else would one want to be at that moment than an American foreign correspondent with some experience of the Muslim world? And yet it proved a difficult juncture to be an American journalist. "The worst period in my entire career," a dear friend confided as we were comparing notes afterwards. He sent me a list of story ideas his editors had turned down. "They simply didn't want any reporting," he explained. "They told us the story lines, and asked us to substantiate them." CNN correspondents received written instructions on how to frame stories of Afghan suffering. A BBC reporter told me in our Quetta hotel the weekend before Kabul fell how he had had to browbeat his desk editors to persuade them that Kandahar was still standing. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Alternet. "Breaking Ranks In Afghanistan" December 11, 2003.


2003: Breaking Ranks in Afghanistan By Sarah Chayes

So by March of 2002, I found myself field director (an invented title) of Afghans for Civil Society, an organization founded by Qayum Karzai, the president's older brother, in 1998, but non-existent inside Afghanistan up to that time. The job amounted to inventing an NGO. We did so with blissful disregard for the usual rules. The firewalls most NGOs erect between development work and political advocacy haven't existed at ACS. And that's why, for me, it works. It's no use deluding oneself. I am not a medic, nor an engineer, nor do I possess any other concrete skill "useful" to people. This incapacity is what held me up when I toyed with the idea of leaving journalism before. What I know how to do, what I do almost compulsively, is look at things, analyze them, and talk about them. Consequently, please understand: I am not attending the bedsides of Afghan mine victims or shepherding a flock of children at an orphanage. Of course, ACS does run development projects. We rebuilt a village, for example: ten houses and a mosque, bombed to rubble during that final intense battle for the airfield outside Kandahar when the Taliban regime was in its death throes. I visited the building site every day, cajoling children to help clear the debris by making truck noises with them and loading their outstretched arms. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: AlterNet. "Breaking Ranks In Afghanistan" December 11, 2003.


2003: Washoe County school trustees decided to make Afghanistan RPCV Paul Dugan permanent superintendent but postponed a formal hiring vote until next month because of the state’s open meeting law

Washoe County school trustees decided Tuesday to make Paul Dugan permanent superintendent but postponed a formal hiring vote until next month because of the state’s open meeting law. Trustees unanimously voted not to search nationally for a new superintendent, less than a week after many Hispanic and black community leaders asked that Dugan be hired immediately. He took over after Jim Hager, superintendent since January 1999, left in June to join the University of Nevada, Las Vegas faculty. “Rest assured, there will be no regrets,” Dugan told the trustees Tuesday. Trustees said they have been impressed with Dugan’s handling of minority student and parent issues, including his formation of a committee to study racial unrest at Hug High School. Dugan was supported by teachers’ and administrators’ unions. “One of the smartest things Jim Hager did was that he saw something in Paul Dugan and groomed him for this job,” said Tim Fuetsch, the principal at Towles Elementary and the president of the administrators’ union. “Paul Dugan knows this district. He is the man for the job.” Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Reno Gazette-Journal. "School Board To Hire Dugan" December 14, 2003.


2003: RPCV Barry Rosen returns to Afghanistan to serve in Kabul University

After Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Rosen pushed for Columbia to resume its work there, playing a constructive role in a wounded land. He laments the decision by the Bush administration to devote enormous energy and resources in Iraq, rather than Afghanistan, which he says is "the homeland of terror" when it could be a "showcase for democracy." BUT Teachers College, Unicef and the ministry are making strides on their own. The partnership has already created first-grade texts in a half-dozen subjects, including Islam, in both of the country's languages, Dari (a close cousin of Farsi) and Pashto. "Afghanistan wants both languages spoken by every Afghan," Mr. Rosen said. "That is one of the essential ways to build a nation." Once the current alert is lifted, Mr. Rosen and a retired professor will relocate to Kabul, with additional faculty rotating in and out. Their task: to get an education system up and running, even if it means "emergency teacher training" for anyone with a ninth-grade education and classrooms in tents, he said. On his short visits to Kabul so far, Mr. Rosen has been teased for speaking Dari with a Tehran accent and is called aqay-e Irani, or Mr. Iran. "It's the funniest thing given my history," he said. Yet Mr. Rosen has told no one in Kabul of his ordeal as a hostage and says he cannot imagine doing so. "They only care that I'm there, that I know something and that I'm trying to be of assistance," he said. "These people have suffered such ruthlessness and devastation. Why should I burden them with my stupid little story?" Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: New York Times. "Returning To Danger, Desire To Serve Unquenched" December 19, 2003.


2003: Jack Cole lived in Kabul and traveled extensively throughout the country tending to the health of the Peace Corps volunteers. Next was Swaziland for one year, where Jack split his time between a government hospital and the volunteers. Then on to New Delhi for two years in India, again responsible only for keeping the volunteers healthy.

In 1968 he was accepted as a staff physician for the Peace Corps. In August of that year Jack, Lynn, five of the children and the family dog left for Afghanistan for a two year posting. They lived in Kabul and traveled extensively throughout the country tending to the health of the Peace Corps volunteers. Next was Swaziland for one year, where Jack split his time between a government hospital and the volunteers. Then on to New Delhi for two years in India, again responsible only for keeping the volunteers healthy. Click this link to read more.

  • Original Source: Personal Web Site. "Jack Cole Grew Up In Matamoras, A Small Town On The Delaware River In Northeast Pennsylvania. His Father Was A Freight Conductor On The Erie Railroad. Many Other Family Members Also Worked For The Railroad." December 27, 2003.


References

  1. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "81-Year-Old Pickets Miller Over Iraq" January 10, 2003.
  2. PCOL Exclusive. "A Peace Corps For Afghanistan" January 31, 2003.
  3. U.S. Department of State. "Cities In Afghanistan And Nebraska Forge "Sister Cities" Partnership" February 3, 2003.
  4. The Independent. "Afghanistan After The War Bodes Ill For Iraq" February 24, 2003.
  5. Pomona Magazine. "Dennis Aronson ’63 And Susan (Girdler) Aronson ’63" March 1, 2003.
  6. Pomona Magazine. "Dennis Aronson ’63 And Susan (Girdler) Aronson ’63" March 1, 2003.
  7. PCOL Exclusive. "After Several Queries In The Last Two Days On The Safety And Security In Afghanistan, I Thought It May Be Helpful To Write A Note About The Two Issues." March 11, 2003.
  8. Friends of Afghanistan. "Carol Helm Died March 16, 2003 At Hospice Of The Valley. Born Carol Hope Shaw On December 20, 1922 In Lorain, Ohio, Carol Was A Valley Resident Since 1953." March 19, 2003.
  9. Central Maine Daily Sentinel. "Students Raise Money For Afghan Children" March 25, 2003.
  10. Puget Sound Business Journal. "Sturdy Foundations: Miller/Hull Partnership Finds Stability, Recognition During Soft Economy" March 31, 2003.
  11. Atlanta Journal Consitution. "Atlanta Journal-Constitution April 27, 2003" May 1, 2003.
  12. Maryland Film Festival. "Life After War" May 2, 2003.
  13. St. Lawrence University. "Memories Of Afghanistan" May 26, 2003.
  14. Town Hall. "Don't Soften The Army, Harden The Peace Corps" July 25, 2003.
  15. The Oregonian. "Somber Reminders Of Danger" August 16, 2003.
  16. My Shelf. "Before The Title" August 20, 2003.
  17. Transom. "On The Ground. No Stability," August 28, 2003.
  18. [http:peacecorpsonline.org/exclusive.html PCOL Exclusive. "Glimpses Of Afghanistan: A Country Director Looks Back On The 1960'S (Part 1)" September 14, 2003.]
  19. Berkeley Daily Planet. "Davis Picks Berkeley Lawyer For Judgeship" September 19, 2003.
  20. Walla Walla Union Bulletin. "Despite Dangers, Woman Heads Back To Afganistan" October 1, 2003.
  21. PBS. "Interview With Sarah Chayes: Danger, Determination And Destiny" October 1, 2003.
  22. Personal Web Page. "What Form Of Government Will Work In Afghanistan?" October 13, 2003.
  23. IDS News. "Former Diplomat To Visit Iu" October 22, 2003.
  24. Oregon Live. "Crossroads Lecture Tapsformer Ohs Director For Oregon History Talk" November 13, 2003.
  25. Committee on International Relations. "News Advisory" November 19, 2003.
  26. PCOL Exclusive. "Testimony Of Mark L. Schneider, Sr. Vice President, International Crisis Group To The House International Relations Committee Hearing On Afghanistan" November 19, 2003.
  27. PCOL Exclusive. "Glimpses Of Afghanistan (Part 2)" November 30, 2003.
  28. [www.washingtontimes.com Washington Times. "Colombia In Kabul" December 4, 2003.]
  29. ABC News. "Rebuilding Afghanistan" December 5, 2003.
  30. Alternet. "Breaking Ranks In Afghanistan" December 11, 2003.
  31. AlterNet. "Breaking Ranks In Afghanistan" December 11, 2003.
  32. Reno Gazette-Journal. "School Board To Hire Dugan" December 14, 2003.
  33. New York Times. "Returning To Danger, Desire To Serve Unquenched" December 19, 2003.
  34. Personal Web Site. "Jack Cole Grew Up In Matamoras, A Small Town On The Delaware River In Northeast Pennsylvania. His Father Was A Freight Conductor On The Erie Railroad. Many Other Family Members Also Worked For The Railroad." December 27, 2003.
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