The military alone cannot end the conflict in Afghanistan. On that much nearly everyone can agree, offering a rare island of consensus among sides otherwise divided on the question of how and when America's longest-ever war should wind down.
Yet news media coverage from Afghanistan is dominated by the politicians in the Kabul government and men with guns. This means Americans hear little from the Afghan men and women fighting every day for their own communities. If Americans did, they would get to know people who share their values and who work each day for the future of their children and the progress of their country, despite overwhelming obstacles.
Among the leading indicators of that change:
- A communications boom that has seen cellphone penetration top 50% —up from barely a blip a decade ago.
- A thriving, independent regional and national news media.
- 2.4 million girls in school, from fewer than 10,000 in 2001.
- Nearly 3,000 nationally accredited midwives, up from 250 in 2001, who teach women to deliver babies more safely.