Murphy's Law: Fear of Roads in Afghanistan

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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.

 


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