Saad Mohseni, chairman of Afghanistan's largest media group, summed up in a column for The Wall Street Journal the conventional wisdom about Afghanistan. It goes, he said, something like this:
"The country is a lost cause. Almost nothing has changed. The people remain backward and thankless, and there is little benefit for the international community to stay engaged in the country's future."
He begs to differ, and the West Virginians who have served there, and the families who have backed them up, should hear what he had to say:
"With a population of 35.3 million . . . Afghanistan is a young nation. The median age is 17, and 60 percent of the people are under age 20. This generation is like no other in the country's history."
* In 2001, there were only 900,000 boys in schools, and almost no girls. Today there are more than 8 million Afghan children in schools, and 2.6 million of them are girls.
* The literacy rate, now 33 percent, is expected to grow to 60 percent by 2025.
* "Life expectancy, stuck at 40-odd years for decades, has jumped beyond 60, thanks to Afghan and international efforts to improve access to health care."
* In 2003, there were about 450 health facilities in Afghanistan. Today there are more than 1,800.