Top 6 Things Trump didn’t know about Herat when he barred Girl robotics Scientists from US

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The US embassy in Kabul has denied a visa to 6 Afghan high school students from Herat to accompany their invention in robotics to the United States for a demonstration. The girls made the 500 mile journey from the western city of Herat to the capital of Kabul to apply for visitor visas. They were rejected.

Their project, however, was accepted by The First Global Challenge, which organizes events for teenaged high school students.

The ironies here are rich. These Afghan girls know more about science than the billionaire president of the United States. As residents of Herat province, they are part of a population that has steadfastly resisted extremism. Yet an ignorant, anti-science and Islamophobic White House is excluding them.

We do not know on what grounds they were turned down, but alt-Neo-Nazi and White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has implemented “extreme vetting” for visas issued to Muslims. Afghanistan is one of six Muslim-majority countries that Bannon has successfully barred from coming to the US under most circumstances.

Here are some things that Bannon and Trump do not know about Herat:

1. The people of Herat are for the most part speakers of Dari Persian and they have been bulwarks against terrorism. They rejected the Taliban (a movement that appeals to Pashto-speakers ). They rejected ISIL (Daesh, ISIS).

2. Herat is an ancient city. Herodotus called it the bread-basket of Central Asia.

3. Herat is one of the world’s great cities, which made important contributions architecture and science.

4. Fakhr al-Din Razi (d. 1290), from Herat, wrote on logic and philosophy as well as on: medicine, astrology, geometry, physiognomy, mineralogy, and grammar.

5. Sa`d al-Din Taftazani (d. 1390) wrote four important books on logic and influenced the founder of sociology, Ibn Khaldun.

6. The great Persian poet and Sufi mystic Jami (d. 1412) hailed from Herat. Among his sayings, which Trump should study:

“Everyone likes flattery; and when you come to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel.”

“Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”

“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.”


Related video:

Restoration of the historic Citadel in Herat (NATO and Afghanistan)

15 Responses

  1. it doesn’t matter to people like Bannon and Trump what the facts are or that these are a group of young women who will help make the world a better place. People like Bannon and Trump don’t want to get along with others, they want there to be strife and they are working hard to create it.

    There is not much about Bannon and Trump which hasn’t been done before by other dictators. Give it another 5 years and it will look just like Nazi Germany did prior to WW II and those they target will be much more than Muslims. the list will expand.

    it is truly a shame these young women can not attend this conference and it may well be that other international organizations will no longer hold events in the U.S.A because of the ban. this 90 ban will continue for another 90 days and then another 90 day, until the end of the time Trump spends in the Wh. House.

  2. What can anyone expect from a man who gets his information from the National Inquirer? This is one of the most ill informed and intellectually challenged presidents, in the history of the White House, who seem to rely on conspiracy theories, and has no interest in learning/listening to help make better decisions.

  3. “Success is constancy to purpose,” was framed and posted on the wall of my dentist’s office, back around 1962. As I recall, it was attributed to Disraeli. Now I know, some 45 years later, that he must have been citing a much earlier sage. Thank you Juan for this very useful history.

  4. Disclaimer: I am a “native American” of the people that historically, have both supported and resisted America. It is shameful today that Trump & Co. Have seized control and are working to reform America and it’s leadership to an inward gazing mess that denies progress in the sense of its positive map for all humanity. Sorry the young scientists were turned away, collateral damage of the nasty conservative minions of the Trump era.

  5. I can imagine that what’s left of Afghan tolerance/collaboration with us, the uninvited guests who never left, will quickly come to an end.

  6. A lot of people think this is no big deal but I do know a lot of tech conferences that used to be in the U.S. have already or are talking about moving to some other country to escape the U.S. insanity.

    BTW there is a U.S. consulate in Herat. Why did they have to go 500 miles to get their visas rejected?

    • Generally consulates cannot issue visas. That centralizes handling and serves as a filter by making it more difficult and expensive for people from rural or remote areas to travel to
      embassies in the capital. The assumption is that the right kind of people will have money and connections to come to the embassy from wherever but poor people or those the embassy is likely to regard as undesirable are less likely to be able to afford the travel. Crude but quite effective.

      • That is interesting. Although the consulate’s web page says they answer questions about visas they also say they might not be able to help. And their Facebook page is down.

        I kinda wonder why they bothered to even have a consulate there unless there was a recent policy change that rendered it useless.

        link to

        • Alan, you think of visa issuing as a friendly service, and that honors you. In reality in third world countries it is made as difficult as possible. Part of it is a centralized process with exclusively personal, face-to-face interviews. Costs and time are important factors in keeping people even from trying. Other “first World” countries are not much better.

  7. See also…

    “Tibetan women’s soccer team set to make international debut in Vancouver: After being denied tourist visas to attend a tournament in Dallas, the team of exiles are now coming to Canada.”

    link to

  8. There may be even more ugliness to this visa rejection added to anti-Muslim prejudice.
    A few years ago, I was a member of a church that was partners with some churches in Malawi. Malawi and US folks travelled to visit one another. This worked fine for a couple visits until some women were invited & given travel stipends.

    The State Department refused to give the women visas, though they had had no problem with the men.
    Go figure-as if these women would have wanted to desert their families.
    This was during the Obama administration.

  9. Did the present White House people read any book about the history of Islamic mysticism, Islamic philosophy, the history of the Middle East, the contribution of the Arabs to culture, and serious works critical of the present White House people?

  10. Stupid short-term actions usually have very bad long term consequences.

    Although I do not know the exact technical details about the robot the girls designed, based on my own robot design background, I can offer some ideas about what they achieved for non-technical readers.

    – The CPU is likely 32-bit and based on either ARM or Intel technology. ARM technology is what is in all smart phones and tablets while Intel technology is in almost all powerful servers, like the Google servers we all rely on, as well as laptops and desktop. In other words the girls are learning more about the future than most kids in the USA. BTW – Raspberry PI single board computers with quad-core 64-bit ARM CPUs cost less than US$ 50.

    – The operating system is probably Linux but may be Windows 10 (MS is giving it away on Raspberry pi and Intel systems). That is, a very powerful operating system.

    – In addition to the powerful operating system and hardware, the girls have learned how to make all the power do useful things by using very comprehensive programming technology.

    Basically, the girls are learning skills that everyone in “coal country” should be learning but most in “coal country” are extremely resistant and the few that may be willing, have no way to gain the skills because their republican controlled states refuse to help them get the skills.

    One possible long term consequence to this mean-spirited blunder is, the leader of a country that has a disagreement with the USA (China?), could invite the girls to demonstrate their robot to the country’s leadership and then the leader could offer the girls a “full ride” scholarship to the top engineering school in that country. This would reinforce to the world that the USA is no longer the leader of the globe.

    And before non-technical users think that that would not be much of a prize, they might want to check out how highly rated the top technical universities in China, Russia and the EU are. the non-USA universities are now doing more original research and making more inventions than USA universities. While USA universities have struggled with funding, especially a lack of federal funding, countries in Asia and Europe have been pouring resources into their universities and their universities have caught up and in many cases moved in front of USA universities. The USA has been investing in war while most other countries have been investing in their youths.

    USA priorities are all wrong.

    • I’d just like to remind readers that before WWII, some of the greatest scientists in all of history such as Einstein and Szilard, came to the US to escape dictatorships and had outstanding schools like Princeton provide them with succor and research facilities. Imagine what might have been if these men had stayed in Europe and been forced to work on atomic weapons for the Nazis instead of being in the US. The US has so benefited from foreigners coming here to study and then staying and providing invaluable contributions in the sciences. Most every major university has professors who fit this bill. A former roommate of my wife was like that and went on to get a Phd. in microbiology. Who will want to do this as long as this insane clown and his ignorant minions are in the White House?

      • While the USA openly no longer values non-whites, the same can not be said for other countries.

        Ever since I “retired” (thanks to an incompetent CEO) from a large multinational company, I have received numerous invitations to teach computer engineering at Chinese universities where I would be treated very well.

        Note that the classes would have been taught in English because many Chinese engineering students know English so they can read all the latest technology journals and send questions to the authors.

        Now that China and many other countries in Asia and Europe have INVESTED in their universities and have recruited professors from around the globe, including the USA, many of these universities are of equal quality to American universities. Most of these non-USA universities have much better lab equipment than USA universities.

        I have worked with some of the graduates of these universities and have found them to be extremely knowledgeable and creative, just the type of individuals that ACTUALLY make a country great (unlike fat blowhard real estate developers).

        BTW – at the same time, the republican governments in the USA (federal and state) have been defunding education (K12, community college and university). Such are the “new” USA priorities. Kansas is so bankrupt due to republican policies their schools are failing.

        Americans appear to be eagerly trying to make the USA much less great.

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