March 5, 2007:
One of the reconstruction efforts in
Afghanistan consists of paving 900
kilometers of dirt roads. This will cost $366 million, and foreign experts are
running into resistance from Afghans living along those roads. The foreigners
attribute this hostility to Afghans angry at the corruption in the government.
That's not the case. Afghans don't trust their government because it is
corrupt, but because it is the government, and they don't trust any government.
What's really important is tribe, clan, and family. As for the roads, somehow,
the local folks will learn what to do with them if they're safe enough to
travel on. But what Afghans fear most is some government in Kabul using the
improved roads to come out and attack them. This is an ancient fear. Two
thousand years ago, the Romans built roads in newly conquered territory, mainly
to facilitate the rapid movement of troops to put down rebellions.