The Foreign Service Journal, July/August 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY-AUGUST 2018 71 AUAF reopened and now has more than 2,000 students, some 50 percent women. Eleven percent of graduates become Fulbright scholars, the highest percentage in the world. AUAF is typical of the projects and programs launched by USAID in Afghanistan since 2001. Is it a development success story preparing leaders for Afghanistan’s future, or mainly an unsustain- able terrorist target? As a forceful example of the difficulties faced by donors and the Afghan government, what do such projects tell us about trying to carry out sustainable development in a war zone? One of the Largest USAID Missions in the World Since returning to Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S. Agency for International Development has been tasked to do many things: bring peace and stability to areas still in, or recovering from, con- flict; repair institutions and infrastructure and establish function- ing government services; and build for the long term. Some have called it stability operations; others, nation-building. Whatever it is called, it has been the most extensive USAID program since Vietnam—and an effort that has pushed the agency well beyond its traditional boundaries and operational capacity. It remains today, after 17 years, one of the largest USAIDmissions in the world, in terms of both budget and staffing. The challenges of trying to do long-term development pro- grams and build government institutions and capacity while also helping to stabilize an insecure and fragile environment are varied and complex. How best to integrate programs to meet urgent political and security objectives with long-term development goals within a framework of ever-changing stra- tegic priorities? How best to carry out critical but sometimes conflicting political, security and development operations A plaque commemorating the opening of a new girls’ high school in Kabul, and students at the dedication ceremony. PHOTOSCOURTESYOFWILLIAMHAMMINK