The 4,000 US Marines who invaded the Helmand Province in Afghanistan this week might feel at home—the US helped build it, the Christian Science Monitor reports. In a Cold War race against the Soviets, Washington lavished more than $110 million on irrigating land, constructing schools, and building the capital city of Lashkar Gah. But Taliban insurgents eventually claimed the land from Afghanistan's government.
"It was a huge influx of people who came in there for the land settlement," says Richard Scott, an expert on the project. Scott helped villagers repair war-damaged irrigation systems there until 2005, when militants killed a truckload of Afghan engineers. Until then, he says, local goodwill for the American enterprise was strong. Now he fears that rising civilian casualties have turned local support to anger.