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What I Saw in Afghanistan


Stashed in: New Yorker

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No one who knew Afghanistan before 9/11 can fail to note the remarkable changes that have taken place there:

The dramatic increase in life expectancy and decrease in child and maternal mortality rates; the elections for President, parliament, and provincial councils; the distribution of millions of cell phones, many connected to the Internet; the flourishing of the mass media; the construction of office and commercial towers, roads, and, airports; and, perhaps most important, the spread of education, which is creating a generation of professionals who, as they move into positions of influence, are sure to transform the country. And yet, after thirty-seven years of continual warfare, the population is traumatized. Both civilian and military casualties are on the rise. Extreme poverty, vulnerability, and violence, especially against women, are pervasive, as are government corruption and other abuses of power. And all of the progress hangs by a thin, fraying thread— Afghanistan depends on foreign aid to finance two thirds of the government’s operating budget and virtually all of its development projects and national-security forces.

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