Archive for February, 2008

Two Myths About Afghanistan

Monday, February 11th, 2008

By Ann Marlowe

As Western leaders and Congress debate NATO’s responsibilities in Afghanistan, it’s time to dissolve two great American illusions about Afghanistan.

The first is that Hamid Karzai is a good president who looks after American interests. The second is that the situation in Afghanistan is going from bad to worse. Both of these unchallenged “facts” are dangerous errors.

Karzai manages by panic, with massive corruption and an absence of vision. It’s a tribute to the Afghan people’s energy and U.S.- implemented economic regulations and reforms that Afghanistan’s gross domestic product has more than doubled since the invasion. But Karzai has sought to derail grass-roots efforts at building democracy and to stifle Afghanistan’s nascent civil society, repeatedly siding with fundamentalists against progressives. (more…)

Winning Afghanistan

Sunday, February 10th, 2008



They stood out sharply against the worn concrete buildings and battered cars on the potholed road our convoy followed: two soaring solar-powered street lamps provided by the US Army. Kholbesat Bazaar is a back-of-beyond district capital in the eastern Khost Province of Afghanistan, poor even by Afghan standards, and one of the two of 12 Khost districts still classified as “red” or insecure. Yet even here, change is coming.

It’s not just the lights that allow shopkeepers to stay open past dark and increase safety, or the fact that Kholbesat now has a clinic with a female doctor and can thus accommodate female patients. The US Army is building a 40-kilometer blacktop road from the Pakistani border to Kholbesat and onward to Khost City at a pace of two kilometers a week. When it is completed in spring 2008, the speed of local transport should triple, jumpstarting trade and allowing locals to make the trip to Khost City in a half-hour rather than an hour and a half.

The future should hold more improvements in locals’ lives, given the close cooperation between the government and American soldiers who are scheduled to move into a barracks in the district center. Rapport has increased, and residents are calling in the locations of improvised explosive devices, denying insurgents safe haven in their houses, and generally obeying the law. (more…)