This BBC post
has a few stats that suggest that things are better in Afghanistan. Specifically, the number of kids in school has increased by over 600% and the GDP/capita has tripled. Even the casualty stats are kind of okay.
That is, if you notice, the increase in civilian casualties seems to have been stemmed, that Afghan security forces are taking far fewer hits, and so on. One could argue that figures through August are premature, but most of every year's damage has taken place in summer (where "winter is coming" is actually a good thing). So, we will see 2011 look less bad than 2010 unless something strange happens. NATO has been doing a better job of avoiding harming civilians, even though it still happens. But again, what really stands out here is that the ANA and ANP are not getting hit that hard. Given that "Transition" is supposed to put these guys more in the front, and given that they have always been seen as easier targets, this one trend (I use that word hesitantly) is very, very important.
Of course, none of this is necessarily sustainable. When the US and its allies leave in 2014-2015, schools will likely close, the economy (which is almost entirely based on aid and the activities of the foreign folks) will suffer, and the ANA/ANP will be taking the blows quite directly. That is, if they can remain functional and united.
Still, not too bad. On the usual Afghan-o-meter of confidence from zero to ten, I guess I am now at negative three. Which is an improvement.
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