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Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 08:24 | SYDNEY
Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 08:24 | SYDNEY

'Where the road ends the insurgents begin'

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17 June 2008 16:40

That's a memorable quote from this 22 May piece on Afghanistan reconstruction in The Economist, which I just caught up with thanks to Thomas Barnett's blog. There's a similar story in the last Atlantic Monthly, which includes a very good map of Afghanistan road construction.

The logic is beguiling: new roads will create commerce and improve communication and aid flows, thus opening up opportunites for Afghans who might otherwise join the Taliban. And roads in Afghanistan's remote regions might make it harder for the Taliban to hide from Afghan and Coalition forces.

But Iraq has (or had) quite an extensive and modern road network, by Middle Eastern standards, which has certainly not inhibited the insurgency there. Indeed roads have been the scene for many of its most successful attacks. Infrastructure is surely critical in helping lift Afghanistan out of its desperate poverty. But will it really play a role in defeating the Taliban?

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