By Lucky Gold, CNN
Just as President Obama considers accelerating the exit of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the prospects for peace and prosperity there may be dimming – literally.
The Kajaki Dam on the Helmand River symbolizes all that has gone right and wrong in Afghanistan.
It was built by American contractors in the 1950s, and survived both the Soviet invasion and Taliban rule after that.
Since the beginning of this latest Afghan war, the U.S. has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade hydro-electric generators in order to bring electricity to three hundred thousand people and bolster agriculture in the region.
At an even greater cost, the U.S. and NATO have committed the lives of coalition forces to protect the workers from insurgents bent on killing them and destroying the projects.
Afghans have vowed that the work will go on, but the price – both in blood and treasure – only keeps rising. With the United States’ imminent withdrawal, the dam could become vulnerable again.
Now, it seems that unless Afghans are willing to pay for it with money and manpower, the lights – and the hopes of a people – will be extinguished.