While there are a lot of global economic and political issues being played out in Afghanistan, it is the social issues -- the life of the people -- which most consistently gets lost in the "change" that is happening.
"Change," according to whom?
Whose life will be better for all this "change"?
Basically, we Euro-Americans are trying to drag the Afghan people into the 21st century (from our perspective), even if “we” have to drag “them” kicking and screaming (which they are).
“We” want to change thousands of years of culture, and do it virtually overnight. We're trying to change their whole society — everything they believe about who they are, and how their society "should" operate.
It is a kind of a cultural imperialism. But we are doing it because, you see, “we” think a liberal democracy “would be good” for “them.”
Change focus. We are in the early 1960s. The Americans are trying to get the Saudi Arabian royal family to effect a more “democratic” and “humanitarian” tone to their society. The response from the Saudis is instructive. “Do not send us your Coca Cola, Ford cars, or upstart son of a whisky merchant [i.e., President John F. Kennedy]. We have our own culture and have had it for thousands of years.”
Is real change possible in Afghanistan?
There are strong forces opposing change in Afghan society. Particularly the Taliban, but they are not alone. Traditional rulers, so-called "Warlords," really don't want much change, nor do many traditionalist clerics and ordinary citizens. No different from our society, where "conservatives" of all kinds oppose creative change.
A recent report for a knowledgeable Afghan woman, on International Woman's Day in Saskatoon, presented the situation in sharp contrast. (What she said is well known; she simply highlighted the problem.) "Redevelopment" money being spent three ways in Afghanistan. First, to arm and equip the new Afghan army. Second, to "pay off" the "Warlords." If there's any money left over after that, it might go into something else like a school or a hospital.
And that is the situation which the Canadian Government wants to support until 2011. Because the government thinks real change will happen if it supports this new "status quo."
If we are rdally committed to making change in "their" society, we'll have to leave troops -- army of occupation -- for several generations -- not years, or decades; generations. It will take that long for real change to take hold. Otherwise, the "conservatives" in that society will quickly reverse any changes that have been made.
And who will benefit from any of these kinds of "change?