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10 years after
As the U.S. and NATO mark 10 years of war in Afghanistan on Friday, a grim picture emerges from scores of interviews over six months across the country with ordinary Afghans, government officials, soldiers, and former and current Taliban, along with recent data.
The difference between the often optimistic assessment of U.S. generals and the reality on the ground for Afghans is stark.
After more than 30 years of war and chaos, Afghanistan is really a mess. Despite all the American aid and promises to rebuild the country, it’s a wreck. The capital, Kabul, is becoming more prosperous, but only because that’s where most of the U.S. and coalition troops are based to provide security, and because that’s one of the few places the aid organizations feel safe enough to operate.
But for Afghans, it has been a decade of one step forward and two steps back. Maybe it's because they have such a short attention span and memory. As one journalist commented, a short memory is a great boost to self-esteem. It helps when you can so easily forget the past and tune out reality. Americans can forget that the country is as bad off as it ever was.
Ted Rudow III, MA