How to Save Afghanistan

Violence has dipped in Iraq, but surges in Afghanistan. A veteran diplomat explains why more troops won't help

Photograph by Zalmaï

A LITTLE HELP FROM FRIENDS: Kabul residents cross an incomplete bridge. Infrastructure projects are the best way for the West to make a difference in the lives of Afghans

It is summer now in Kabul, the snow has largely melted from the 15,000-ft. (4,600 m) peaks, and I am sitting with my friends Hussein, Nabi and Zia in the garden of a 19th century fort. Nearby, 10 carpenters who work with my nongovernmental organization (NGO) are creating a library for a buyer in Tokyo. They're fitting slivers of wood into a delicate lattice and carving flowers into the walnut shutters. They work fast and smile often. But Nabi, a gentle-voiced 66-year-old cook, is not smiling. He is pessimistic about his country. "We have been promised progress by every government since...