Harvesting Democracy in Afghanistan

With the Taliban uprooted from Marjah, will McChrystal's "government in a box" bear fruit?

Mauricio Lima / AFP / Getty

US Marines of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, India Company, move towards Taliban position as their squad came under heavy fire while conducting a joint foot patrol with Afghan Army soldiers in a Taliban stronghold area, in northern Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

We flew into Marjah over a patchwork of poppy fields — not exactly a sea of poppies, but plenty of them. It was two weeks before the harvest, and the last blossoms were floating away in the dusty haze of Helmand province, leaving the prohibitively weird-looking, blue-gray bulbs bald and ready for processing, like an army of alien vegetative creatures. We landed in a wheat field just across the road from the district governor's pathetic headquarters. It was Day 45 after the operation to retrieve Marjah from the Taliban had begun, and the highest-ranking U.S. military official, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman...

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