American Marines secured this desolate village in southern Afghanistan nearly two months ago, and last week they were fortifying bases, manning checkpoints and patrolling in full body armor in 120-degree heat. Despite those efforts, only a few hundred Afghans were persuaded to come out here and vote for president on Thursday.We are also informed that Marines manning checkpoints have to do without air-conditioning and refrigerated water. Those sacrifices are also not enough to bring flocks of the natives to the polling booth to vote for the mayor of Kabul. Why?
A local gives another reason:
Governor Massoud said he personally admired the Marines here, from the Second Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, but he said many people “just don’t want them here.”
He estimated that two of every three local residents supported the Taliban, mostly because they make a living growing poppy for the drug trade, which the Taliban control. Others support them for religious reasons or because they object to foreign forces.
As Mr. Hanan points out, if you're dead, hospitals and schools are a useless luxury. But try to tell that to the Marines.
When one man, Abdul Hanan, complained that “more people are dying,” First Lt. Jake Weldon told him that the Taliban “take away your schools, they take away your hospitals; we bring those things.”
Mr. Hanan remained doubtful. Some people have fled the area, fearful of violence since the Marines have arrived. “So you want to build us a hospital or school, but if nobody is here, what do we do?” he asked.