Friday, November 10, 2006

Afghanistan Is Far From A Return to Chaos

Fire of Liberty
Of late, I've been hearing a lot from the MSM and the Democrats about how Afghanistan returning to a period of violence and chaos because we're directing our focus and assets to Iraq. Now while its easy for politicians and talking heads to sit thousands of miles away and wax how things are a disaster in Afghanistan in an effort to sell news or promotes an agenda, Its refreshing to get find some information on how the folks in Afghanistan feel about their current situation due to the fact that they're living it first hand and unfiltered. Thankfully, the good folks over at the WSJ Asia editorial page have presented a recent poll conducted by the Asia Foundation that reveals some very a far different perspective from the folks on the ground in this far reach of the world. Here's what I've found most interesting about the poll:
The survey, conducted by the Asia Foundation and released on Thursday, finds that a majority of Afghans hold a mostly optimistic view of their country's future. Economic insecurity, not violence or physical safety, is their top worry.

This may come as news to outside observers used to hearing only about the resurgence of the Taliban. Yet a majority of the Afghans surveyed say the security situation is "excellent" or "good"; three-fifths say they "rarely" or "never" worry about their safety. Security, it seems, is not a significant factor in most Afghans' day-to-day lives.

The violence in the southern and eastern provinces is serious, and bears watching. But it helps that well over 80% of respondents trust the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Sixty-three percent said they would report a crime to the police.

Many of the survey results are remarkable for their sheer ordinariness. Thirty-four percent of respondents consider unemployment their biggest problem. After that, electricity (25%), water (18%), poverty (18%), the poor economy (17%) and corruption (8%) were cited as significant challenges.

These responses help explain why it's been so difficult for Afghan farmers to kick their poppy-growing habit. In principle, Afghans are eager to stop growing the crop. According to the survey, 80% of respondents believe poppy cultivation is "wrong." But given the country's poor infrastructure and the few alternative vocations in rural areas, many Afghans feel they have little choice but to continue to cultivate the lucrative cash crop.
Now it's true that Afghanistan is far from being Switzerland but its still far removed from the death and chaos we keep on hearing about Afghanistan.

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