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Rebuilding Afghanistan (Take II)
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Here's a tempered, but encouraging report from Kabul by the Washington Post (via Tacitus).

Many of those perceived troubles are real and worrisome, and nobody would mistake Kabul for a prosperous and peaceful city. Sections are still in ruins, and many of the 600,000 returning refugees who have flooded the city live precariously on the margins. Islamic militants remain determined to destabilize and oust the Karzai government through violence, and periodic attacks continue. There is also concern that the flashier developments could offend conservative Afghan attitudes and create a dangerously wide divide between the relatively rich and the very poor.

But whatever the risks, the Kabul of today is almost unrecognizable as the austere city ruled not long ago by the Taliban -- or as the place where warring Islamic militias demolished neighborhood after neighborhood, or where Soviets presided over a rebellious socialist state.

While the current business mini-boom involves mostly small-scale projects, some see it as a harbinger of bigger investments from abroad.

A reminder that true reconstruction isn't going to be facilitated solely by outside governments (though they should definitely play a role). Foreign investment is going to be the real key to revitalizing Afghanistan.

I forget to mention yesterday that one of the things Diane Rehm asked Ambassador Shahryr about was what individuals could do to help. He said he wasn't sure about individual efforts, though donations from private individuals would always be welcome. What he pleaded for was investment from foreign businesses, to build, provide jobs, and increase confidence by investing capital in Afghanistan.

I hope companies, not just American, but European, Japanese and others, listen to him.

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