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Argument: Afghanistan is more stable and governable than often assumed

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Peter Bergen. "Winning the good war. Why Afghanistan is not Obama's Vietnam". Washington Monthly. July/August 2009: "corollary to the argument that Afghanistan is unconquerable is the argument that it is ungovernable—that the country has never been a functioning nation-state, and that its people, mired in a culture of violence not amenable to Western fixes, have no interest in helping to build a more open and peaceful society. Certainly endemic low-level warfare is embedded in Pashtun society—the words for cousin and enemy in Pashtu, for instance, are the same. But the level of violence in Afghanistan is actually far lower than most Americans believe. In 2008 more than 2,000 Afghan civilians died at the hands of the Taliban or coalition forces; this is too many, but it is also less than a quarter of the deaths last year in Iraq, a country that is both more sparsely populated and often assumed to be easier to govern. (At the height of the violence in Iraq, 3,200 civilians were dying every month, making the country around twenty times more violent than Afghanistan is today.) Not only are Afghan civilians much safer under American occupation than Iraqis, they are also statistically less likely to be killed in the war than anyone living in the United States during the early 1990s, when the U.S. murder rate peaked at more than 24,000 killings a year."

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