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.
(Read more Afghanistan war stories.)