Girls in schools, wheat crops instead of poppy?  This ain't your daddy's Afghanistan.   

No one believed meaningful change in Afghanistan would happen over night but, as in Japan and Germany and Korea, the longer the US stays and makes people who like democracy feel safe, the more gains there will be.    Though the cost is obviously quite high.

Marjah is a good example of what will be.   Obviously some there remain skeptical.  "If the Marines left, the Taliban would be back in two weeks," said Sidar Mohammad, the 25-year-old owner of a bakery in Marjah's Loy Chareh market.

And it's often the case that huge forces are needed for a while.   America had an 'occupation' draft of a million young men just to occupy Japan, 20X the troops in Afghanistan and American troops remain there to this day, though obviously in smaller numbers - but outsourcing national defense let countries like Japan, Germany and Korea transform into democratic economic powerhouses.

Once girls are allowed to be educated in backward nations, science cannot be far behind.  And science drives out fundamentalism, making it harder for fanatics to gain a stronghold again.