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The Need for Democracy in the Global Village

September 22, 2002

Amir Taheri makes some excellent points about political realities and assassinations in Afghanistan ("Welcome to Assassin-istan," Commentary, Sept. 16). But he also perpetuates certain unfortunate stereotypical notions, as if Afghanistan of the 21st century would be better off if it were left to be the collection of tribal fiefdoms it has been for the last few centuries. The days of Afghanistan being a buffer state in the midst of regional competing powers ended with the Soviet Union's implosion. Left alone, Afghanistan is not only an impoverished land, it is a major security threat to the United States, as events of Sept. 11 showed vividly.

Afghanistan needs to leap forward into the 21st century in a hurry and become a modern, pluralistic democracy and a market economy. This can only happen with outside aid, and the only source the Afghans can turn to is the United States, which has now been engaged in Afghanistan with significant regional implications for the second time in two decades.

Afghanistan must be the first step in the transformation of South and Central Asia and the Middle East to modern, pluralistic democracies and open markets. That is the only way to rescue generations of Afghans and others in the region from war, terror, backwardness and poverty.

The truth is that only the United States has the resources, the influence and the global reach to do this for its own security as well as for those in the region. Welcome to the age of the global village.

Wali M. Osman

Senior Fellow

East-West Center

Honolulu

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