Remembering Afghanistan on 9/11
Five years ago today, the world stood transfixed. Standing on the rubble of the World Trade Center, President Bush promised to retaliate against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. It didn't take long. The United States began bombing Afghanistan on October 7. Within six months, they disabled the Taliban regime and weakened Al-Qaeda's power.
Five years later, Afghanistan is often referred to as the "forgotten war," even though the country is facing its strongest upsurge in violence since the ouster of the Taliban. A suicide bomber killed a provincial governor, his bodyguard and his nephew yesterday in eastern Afghanistan.
Three days ago, a car bomber slammed into a U.S. army convoy near the U.S. Embassy, killing 16 people, including three American soldiers. It was the worst such attack in the capital.
Why is the violence increasing? What went wrong? Was it incompetence in the Bush administration? Was it the fiasco in Iraq? Or was it shadowy influences from Afghan neighbors like Pakistan?
Perhaps the most pressing question is: What's in store for the future of Afghanistan?
Former NPR reporter Sarah Chayes explores these questions in her new book, The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban.
Chayes was NPR's Paris reporter for years. After 9/11, she filed reports from Pakistan and Afghanistan. In early 2002, she finished her NPR rotation, visited the U.S., and moved back to Kandahar to help rebuild the country and run Afghans for Civil Society, a humanitarian organization that rebuilds homes. With a few exceptions, she has lived in Kandahar ever since.
I interviewed Chayes on today's Your Call. She's such an engaging, passionate speaker and shares many stories about Afghan warlords, politicians, the Taliban, day to day obstacles, the relationships she created with the locals, and hopes for the future. Listen here.