My personal experience in Afghanistan goes back to the late 60’s early 70’s. No one ever talked about Afghanistan then, and hardly anyone could find it on a map.
Was an Air Force AirEvac medic. We flew in on a mission, can’t exactly remember what for, and when we landed I was sure we had gone through a time warp. But the only thing I could remember about it, was they told us as long as we stuck to the main road we were good. If we roamed off of that we were on our own.
There is a reason that Afghanistan is called the place Where Empires Go To Die. It is like no other place on earth. I’m sure Ernst can speak to contemporary Afghanistan, but it’s telling that after 40 years his impressions and mine are probably not any different.