Tuesday, November 23, 2010

IS Afghanistan a lost cause? Could the Taliban make a come back?

This is the most positive report I've heard in a long, long time. And the nice thing about it, is if you think about it, its just logical. With all the changes, with all the efforts, change happens. Whenever we have moved into a country, we have had change, people get to like the new changes, the new technologies they are given and that filter in, regardless. But this isn't always true. However, just consider what Jackie Northam has to say.

Jackie Northam, foreign affairs correspondent, NPR is interviewed by NPR's Neal Conan:

CONAN: We're talking with NPR foreign correspondent Jackie Northam, recently back from a visit to Kabul. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
And does it feel different in Kabul this time around?

NORTHAM: Yes, sure. I mean, it changes. I go there quite regularly and it changes every time that you go there. I think one of the things this time that sort of stuck with me is that you got the sense that everyone was positioning themselves, you know, with this, quote, unquote, "transition" that is coming up in July 2011. Now, combat troops, they're saying, out by 2014.

You know, normally when I go there, no matter who you talk with, Pakistan comes into the conversation, what Pakistan - is doing, how it's all Pakistan's fault, frankly. And now what you're hearing increasingly is Iran is coming into the conversation as well, whether it's interference from Tehran or whether it's how President Karzai is dealing with Iran, and that type of thing with the leadership in Iran as well. So that's pretty curious to see how that is.

But I got to tell you, every time you go back as well, there's just more and more progress in that city, and all the various other cities as well. Certainly, there's more cars, the traffic is astonishing, but more computers, more - everything has become more Westernized, more Western music, people are wearing Western clothes. It's just - the city, the country, for the most part, is progressing. It's moving along.

CONAN: You read the dispatches from the battlefields and you say, this is going to be extremely difficult, the Taliban seems to be so well positioned, the government is corrupt and inefficient, yet you report - and you see them in terms of the evidence of movies like "Afghan Star" and things like that.

NORTHAM: Mm-hmm.

CONAN: The culture in Afghanistan, at least in Kabul and the big cities, has changed.

NORTHAM: It certainly has. And that's one of the things that, you know, I really talked to a lot of people about this time, is whether the Taliban could come back in a big way to Afghanistan. And they say, a lot of people, you know, and talking to, like, 20-year-olds, 30, 40, analysts, major thinkers, that type of thing - and it's probably no, because this country has advanced so much more than when the - you know, when the Taliban first came in back in the '90s, there was nothing there. There was no running water. Even in the capital city there was no electricity. There was nothing. Now, there is.

CONAN: After the Russian invasion and then civil war which followed and the war of Iraq.

NORTHAM: Absolutely. And the country had gone through decades of war and it was devastated. There was nothing. Now there is. Now there is something that people have. They've all got cell phones. Again, they've got access to computers, to the open world, everything else like that. And people I spoke with said, no, we're not willing to give that up very easily, which in turn means, could the Taliban come back as it once was? And I think it would be a much greater struggle than the first time around.

Listen to the full interview here: NPR article

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