Politics: Afghanistan Exists! Hooray!
Think Canada has problems with Quebec (and vise versa)? There are over 30 languages spoken in Afghanistan. Even the "official" language of Pashtu is only the primary language of 35% of the country: half the people speak Dari, but they often aren't the ones in command of government. There are more than 40 political parties (more than there are provinces) in what is a theoretically budding democracy, and there are still warlords controlling many of the outlying regions. Fewer than a third of the population could get registered to vote. Lost cause, right?
Not even close.
Of those who could vote, almost 85% did. The new constitution that has been written states that while no law should be "contrary to Islam" (okay, I'm not fond of that bit), it must also be based on the protection of human rights, and that the nation shall abide by the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There has been over $2 billion in aid entering the country, and a bunch of that is going to be infrastructure such as roads, phone lines, hospitals, schools. And, of course, internet. Can't forget the internet. Now, you just know the concept of internet cafes would have started here if they had computers sooner...
So why should I be optimistic about this country, but not Iraq? Because the bulk of the invading army LEFT afghanistan once it was decided bin Laden & Co. wouldn't be found there, leaving behind a smaller force who were (and are) committed to helping the country govern itself. The coalition that ended up invading Afghanistan (no need to use euphemisms here, kids) did so with very little protest from the Arabic or Muslim world, unlike the remnants of the bribed mob that's left in favour of the Iraq invasion. That "coalition" is down to what? Twenty-five members now? A decision wasn't made to strip resources while they were there, either.
Gee, maybe there's a lesson there. Not that I expect any of the mob to strain themselves reading a history book or anything.