My column this week at PBS focuses on roads:
Why does the international ommunity focus so intently on road construction? It’s difficult to say. There is a belief, justified in many ways, that well-paved roads are a necessary step toward fostering economic development. Roads do little for commerce, however, if they’re controlled by criminals and insurgents, and paving them seems to make road-based crime worse. There is also a belief, almost religious in its adherence to faith over fact, that paving roads somehow reduces the emplacement of IEDs — even though the many thousands of miles of paved roads have accompanied a dramatic increase in the use of IEDs by insurgents.
Like far too many aid projects in Afghanistan, the relentless focus on road construction probably has as much to do with western preferences as it does with specific benefits to Afghan communities.
Rip it apart, folks.