Insofar as the “brutal Afghan winter” has any objective reality at all, all it means is that the key highway to Pakistan runs through some pretty high elevations, and has a tendency to get snowbound and impassable. Whether it needs to get quite so impassable is another matter. I like the Afghans, God bless ‘em, but honestly it doesn’t speak well for a culture to have lived in the same place for thousands of years and never got around to inventing the snowplow.
During the Afghan campaign, an Internet wag, Glenn Crawford, deftly summed up the different cultural approaches to unpromising climate - in this instance between the bleak Afghan plain and Nevada. Third World solution: eke a living out of the desert. American solution: “Viva Las Vegas!” One wouldn’t commend a den of gambling and fornication to every spot on earth, but, driving through the Sunni Triangle, I couldn’t help feeling the history of the Middle East would have been a little different if smack in the middle of the Arabian desert you could have seen Wayne Newton with full supporting orchestra. It would be to Afghanistan’s benefit if someone opened a ski resort, and made the brutal Afghan winter pay its way.
That’s what the Thais did: they made Phuket and Phi Phi Island the preferred vacation resorts for millions of westerners. Economic reality dictates that poor people wind up providing services for richer people: in Mississippi, they work in Wal-Mart; in China, they manufacture stuff for Wal-Mart; in Sri Lanka, they make the brassieres for virtually every breast in the United Kingdom; in Thailand, they pour your banana daquiris; in Afghanistan, they grow poppies. There are worse things than luxury tourism. To demand, as Mr Ferrando does, that Thai beaches remain free of “commercialism” is to demand that the Thai people stay poor and dependent.
I have to look at that as the step that takes a country from 3rd to 2nd status: the idea that we don't have to passively accept what we have, but can, through hard work and determination, decide on our own fate. And the fateful step towards 1st world status comes when the people decide to extend that opportunity to ALL who want to try, along with the political power to enforce that right to opportunity.