My magazine column on my visit to Afghanistan is now online. I think this is probably the crux of the issue:
Back-of-the-napkin calculations suggest that Afghanistan stands in immediate need of something like a million and a half educated and dedicated people, just to get the state back on its feet. Where are they going to come from? There’s the educated Afghan diaspora, but it has been almost completely tapped. The only remaining source of human capital is the school system, and this is one area that has seen some obvious progress. When the Taliban were overthrown in 2001 there were only 700,000 children in school; now there are seven million. Educating people takes a long time, though, and when they are at their most open, Canadian officials concede that we are at least a decade away from being able to turn Afghanistan over to the Afghans.
Also, be sure to read Brian Stewart’s take on the same trip, at his cbc.ca column. I miss Brian’s reporting on the CBC news, but it was a delight to find that he’s a dynamite writer.