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Replenishing the Borderlands: From Hydro-Freedom to Eco-Development in Cold War Afghanistan

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by Timothy Nunan on 10 March 2013

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Transcript of Replenishing the Borderlands: From Hydro-Freedom to Eco-Development in Cold War Afghanistan

A 'New Frontier' Beyond the Durand Line? From Hydro-Freedom to Eco-Development in Cold War Afghanistan, c. 1946 - 1973 Timothy Nunan
D.Phil. Candidate, History
Corpus Christi College
University of Oxford Université de Paris 8
Paris, France
March 12, 2013 Presentation Overview a. Methodology & Background c. Making Afghanistan 'Sustainable' - the Paktia-Projekt Methodology & Background Methodology Historical Background Part of a chapter of my D.Phil. dissertation, 'Developing Powers', on international development in Cold War Afghanistan from the 1950s to 1989. Speaks to a rising interest in both Soviet international history (Odd Arne Westad, Elizabeth Bishop, Ragna Boden) as well as the history of development and modernization. Afghanistan: an 'economic Korea', not to mention the pinnacle of Soviet development efforts in the 1980s. Project draws on Soviet, German, and American archives, as well as Afghan and Pakistani materials held in US-based special collections. Daniel Rodgers (Princeton)
'Age of Fracture' 'What crossed between these widely flung fronts of thought and argument was not a single, dominant idea - postmodern, new right or neoliberal - but a contagion of metaphors. Intellectual models slipped across the normal divisions of intellectual life. Market ideas moved out of economics departments to become the new standard currency of the social sciences. Certain game theory set-pieces - the free-rider problem, the prisoner's dilemma, the tragedy of the commons - became fixtures of common sense. Fluid, partial notions of identity, worked out in painful debates among African-American and women's movement intellectuals, slipped into universal usage. Protean, spill-over words like 'choice' were called upon to do more and more work in more and more diverse circumstances. In the process some words and phrases began to seem more natural than the rest - not similes or approximations but reality itself.' Top Aid Donors to Afghanistan, c. 1955-1973 * PL480 is American Food Aid Budget Breakdown for Selected Asian Countries, 1950-1960 State Budget of Afghanistan, 1961-1973 Countries Importing Afghan Goods, c. 1955-1968 Countries Exporting Goods to Afghanistan, c. 1955 - 1968 Sources of Revenue for the Royal Government of Afghanistan, c. 1952-1983 West German Development in Paktia Bob Nathan and Arthur Paul (American fiscal, monetary, and trade advisers to RGA Ministries): Adaptation of Lend-Lease liberal internationalist trade system and wartime production policies. 1940s Development Thought, Postwar Afterlives Developing Powers Aswan Dam, Egypt Bokaro Steel Plant, Jharkand, India Institute for the World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Moscow Projects Archives Nangarhar Provincial Development, Economic Advisers, Infrastructure Development, Trade Agreements, Military Training, Art School Training, Komsomol Aid - a huge range of projects GARF, RGAE, RGASPI (All in Moscow); interviews with former aid workers and Komsomol workers Helmand Valley Association, Nathan Associates Fiscal & Monetary Policy Consulting, Trade Policy Consulting Various US archives - Cornell, University of Omaha Nebraska, published sources, memoirs, and interviews Food relief during 1971-1972 famine, regional development in Parwan Province, seconded economic advisers UN Archives,
New York City; IMF and World Bank Archives, Washington, DC Regional development in Paktia Province, assorted smaller projects (trade schools, economic advising in Kabul) Bundesarchiv (Koblenz), Interviews with former development workers Paktia Province Core Forest Areas of Paktia Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus deodara) Anecdotes about Pashtunwali, blood revenge, informal negotiations between Häselbarth and tribal leaders Claus Lampe (Director of German aid to Afghanistan), center, with King Zahir Shah (King of Afghanistan) Districts of Paktia coded by percentage of surface area covered with sustainably-harvestable forests, January 1, 1970 Districts of Paktia coded by percentage of surface area covered with totally unrecoverable wastes, January 1, 1970 Christoph Häselbarth, Director of Paktia Development Authority Stanislaw Miarkowski (Polish road engineer in Northern Afghanistan): Afghanistan development scene as recreation of pre-1939 'European' cultural identities that Poles fit into coherently. Generalplan Ost, ludicrously detailed planning schemes for Eastern European forests, wetlands, and agriculture Nazi conservationist fears about 'Versteppung' (steppefication) and 'Entwässerung' (dessification) Postwar emergence of 'avocado' Nazi conservationist voices (Alwin Seifert, Franz Heske) who influence West German discourse on 'the environment' and 'sustainability' German Foreign Office in the 1950s: '... wir sind vom Kolonialismus unbelastet ...' Development becomes a fruitful arena for former GPO staffers, planning academics to re-establish West German ties with potential commercial partners. The Paktia Project reflects a specific late-1960s conjuncture in West German development practices: disciplines like forestry and water management had begun to contaminate mainstream discourse with abstract ideas of environmentalism, but the development workers think in terms of 'sustainability' in a purely technical sense. 'The environment' (Umwelt) doesn't exist. 'Since describing the region in terms of tribal territories would not yield any sensible (sinnvoll) solution, [our report conceptually] combines the valley systems and regions whose flow of wood exports (deren Holzabfluß) is forced into a common direction by geographical particularities.' Christoph Jahn (Forest Manager), 'Forest Inventory', January 1, 1970. Thank you for your attention! Timothy Alexander Nunan
D.Phil. Candidate, History
Corpus Christi College
University of Oxford Contact Me: timothy.nunan@gmail.com www.timothynunan.com @timothynunan blog Twitter e-mail b. Paul S. Jones' Quest for Hydro-Freedom Paul S. Jones' Quest for Hydro-Freedom South and Southwest Asia Southern Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan Replenishing Helmand's Waters: A Short History 1910s Afghans re-construct old irrigation canals 1937-1941 German and Japanese-led efforts to construct new irrigation canals 1941-1946 British Empire expels German and Japanese advisers from country, followed by Afghan-led efforts to extend canals 1946 - 1963 Royal Government of Afghanistan signs multi-year deal with Morrison-Knudsen (an American engineering firm) to build dams and canals. Deal is underwritten by US Import-Export Bank. Morrison-Knudsen Logo Food for Work program with American corned beef '... we are unburdened by colonialism ...' Białowizcża Forest
(Then: Poland; Today: Belarus & Poland) Anatolian Steppe
(Turkey) Terraced Agro-Forestry System
(Konso People, Ethiopia) Kajaki Dam 'It now so happens that 2,250 years later – in these years of the 1950's AD – another “conquest” has begun this time in reverse. The conquerer: His Majesty, the King of Afghanistan, and his Government. The army: M-K-A Inc., with its thousands of Afghan workers. The enemy: a recalcitrant Nature. Cause of war: Nature's enforcement of its decree that a vast region be doomed to drought forever. Field of battle: the Arghandab and Helmand River valleys and Sistan basin.' 'Even as today Afghanistan shines brightly in the Middle East as the “Star of Asia,” a free nation, just so one day will loom forth this currently dark star from out the depths of communist blackness, this Yangtze Gorge Project, in brilliance and reality as the guiding light of China, a free nation in a free world.' 'That day [of the collapse of Chinese Communism] will come. And with it will follow release from servitude of 600,000,000 people all the way from Formosa to beyond Sinkiang – from Mengtsze [in Yunnan, China] to beyond Manchuria!' Paul S. Jones, 'Afghanistan Venture: Discovering the Afghan People. The Life, Contacts, and Adventures of an American Civil Engineer During His Two-Year Sojourn in the Kingdom of Afghanistan' (1956) Three Gorges Dam
(Planning initiated by American engineers in 1940s, projected final completion date May 2012) Chiang Kai-Shek MKA Engineers: from 'Marysville, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Los Banos, Modesto, Santa Rosa, Watsonville …' 'The western half of the United States would sustain a population greater than that of our whole country to-day if the waters that now run to waste were saved and used for irrigation. The forest and water problems are perhaps the most vital internal questions of the United States.' President Theodore Roosevelt, First Annual Message, December 3, 1901 'And then I take another look at Mohammed – Jan, I mean – and am puzzled as to whether he is dreaming of a future as impossibly fantastic as is appearing all around us in this land of strange mirages.' 'And then it dawns on me his ideas aren't so out of place. Farm units, villages, schools, hospitals, recreation centers, industry, improved agriculture, electric power, stockraising – a wealth of productive uninhabited land – enough for all Afghans who want it on a basis similar to the American irrigation reclamation project plan – and water to irrigate it from the Helmand, a veritable Colorado River with its many tributaries, right here in the heart of Afghanistan, and fed by the melting snows of the lofty Hindu Kush.'
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