What will the Afghanistan war legacy be?

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...To better understand the road ahead, a look back at the Soviet experience here may prove instructive.

"[The Soviets] were pretty active, and to a large degree effective, in urban-based development schemes, the paving of roads, the construction of buildings for government, and things of that nature," says Thomas Gouttierre, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Mr. Gouttierre first began working in Afghanistan in 1964. Unable to visit during the nine-year Russian war, he says he remembers returning shortly after it was over to find that many of the large cities such as Kabul, Jalalabad, and Herat had been noticeably changed by Soviet development projects. The power grid had improved, new roads were paved, and housing developments had been expanded.

Meanwhile, there were other changes not readily apparent. Russians had sent Afghans to study in the USSR and even launched an Afghan pilot into space....

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