The documentary-maker Adam Curtis has written a brilliant post over at his BBC blog on America's efforts to "modernise" Afghanistan during the cold war. Here is a short excerpt:
If you look beyond the soldiers, and into the distance, what you are really seeing are the ruins of one of the biggest technological projects the United States has ever undertaken. Its aim was to use science to try and change the course of history and produce a modern utopia in Afghanistan.
Now go and read it.