Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Afghanistan Improving

In spite of all the gratuitous remarks one can read about how hopelessly bad things are in Afghanistan, Colin Powell on Sunday said that two million refugees have returned to the country, and today at George Washington University Abdullah Abdullah, the foreign minister, said that 1.6 million refugees have returned from exile, and one million have returned from internal displacement, to their homes.

All the pundits and the media can spin the story of how crummy America is all they want: even if these numbers are wrong, it seems certain that many refugees are returning home to Afghanistan. Things are improving, and Americans should feel proud.

It is true that we deserted the Vietnamese and the Iraqi dissident factions after our wars there were over, but somehow, we are doing rather better in Central Asia. Without casting aspersions or assigning political credit, we have brought a measure of liberty to a usually forgotten corner of the planet.

According to DEBKAfile, bin Laden and Ayman Zawahri have surfaced in Yemen and Saudi Arabia (there is no exact border between the two countries, as it stands in the largest area of unremitting sand desert on the planet), so it seems that they are out of Afghanistan as well. If true, this adds up to a situation where the slime have left, and the families are returning. As I said, we should be proud.