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Another Afghanistan Update
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Via Instapundit, here's a report from Kabul from John Simpson, the BBC's World Affairs Editor:

Three years after the Taliban were chased out, Kabul has returned to the real world. The streets are jammed with cars, the shops are full of goods. Last year Afghanistan's economy grew by 30 per cent. The weirdest thing about Kabul under the Taliban used to be its unnatural silence. Now it's as noisy as anywhere on earth.


This is not Baghdad. The Americans and their allies are not unpopular here - except in the east and south of the country, where there has been fighting - and they are regarded as guarantors of Afghanistan's stability. The West is seen as essentially benign. At the international donors' conference in Berlin last April, $8 billion in aid and investment was pledged over the next three years: about as much as the Afghan economy can absorb.

There is no equivalent here of the stories you hear every day in Iraq, about people being insulted or mistreated by American soldiers; no suburbs, towns or cities are attacked with the latest American weaponry. If Afghanistan gets safely through this week, it will be a remarkable success story.

I'd say even if there is violence, as long as the elections are carried out, it will be a success. There are still plenty of problems: the drug trade, regional warlords, etc. But with construction and legitimate trade booming, and elections around the corner, things are looking better all the time.

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