Fire of Liberty
Philip Smucker has a good piece in the June 2008 issue of the Atlantic which points out how the building of major highways throughout Afghanistan can make a considerable difference in helping the US Army, Marines, NATO, Afghan Army/Police(As well as its government) forces turn the country from a war zone to a more pacified country. Not only will this massive capital expenditure improve our forces ability to transverse the country in a more timely and secure manner(Even though deadly terrorists lurk around various corners) thus showing out troops are out and about, but it will initiate an economic boom by connecting bigger commerce centers of Afghanistan to the smaller more remote villages and neighboring countries as well as opening these regions to various NGO's who are ready to provide food, medicine, technical expertise and whatever else is required to pull out of the horrors that they have endured under the Soviets and Taliban/Al Qaeda. As with all aspects of counterinsurgency fighting, our military and their allies will be called on 60% of the time to use deadly force, but the other 40% they can improve the peace and achieve a great bit of success by drilling wells, inoculating goats, building schools, set up sewer or trash pickup, or make it possible for a private corporation to build a major highway. So here's wishing the builders of this highway G-d's speed.
*For a more detailed look at this soft power side of counterinsurgency fighting, check out Robert D. Kaplan's wonderful book Imperial Grunts.