This article appeared in the August 21, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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If the Taliban return, what will happen to Afghan haircuts?

Nishanuddin Khan/AP
People have their picture taken while draped in the Afghan flag during Independence Day celebrations in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2019.

Welcome to the Daily. Today’s five handpicked stories touch on the independent spirit of a true American political swing district, the tactics of the far-right in Italy, seeking emotional resilience amid changing environments, how one woman is spreading racial reconciliation in her community, and an effort to share one of Afghanistan’s greatest treasures.    

But first, a look at who will actually have to “win” the Afghan war.

If reports are right, some sort of peace deal between the United States and the Taliban might be drawing near. Ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan is a priority for the Trump administration.

It is a time for considering how much the Taliban has changed since 2001. The Monitor’s Scott Peterson has already shared reasons to be wary of the Taliban’s promises.

But it is also important to consider how much Afghanistan has changed. The list is long and substantial. Women’s rights have dramatically improved, particularly in cities. Legitimate national security forces exist. The president and parliament are democratically elected.

Cultural changes have taken hold, too. “Young Afghans have embraced new clothing styles and haircuts with a vengeance,” writes Javid Ahmad in The Washington Post. “Several media channels broadcast 24 hours a day, producing everything from news to the Afghan versions of American Idol, mixed martial arts and Sesame Street.”

“We won’t let the Taliban force their ideas on us again,” said Zekeria, a high school graduate, to Radio Free Europe. Like Zekeria, half the country was born since 2001. Ultimately, the question of how much Afghanistan has changed will be theirs to answer.

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This article appeared in the August 21, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 08/21 edition