FOUR YEARS AFTER THE TALIBAN FELL — and four years and a month after people pronounced Afghanistan a hopeless, Vietnam-like quagmire — an ABC News poll says that Afghans are optimistic about the future:

77 percent of Afghans say their country is headed in the right direction — compared with 30 percent in the vastly better-off United States. Ninety-one percent prefer the current Afghan government to the Taliban regime, and 87 percent call the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban good for their country. Osama bin Laden, for his part, is as unpopular as the Taliban; nine in 10 view him unfavorably.

Progress fuels these views: Despite the country’s continued problems, 85 percent of Afghans say living conditions there are better now than they were under the Taliban. Eighty percent cite improved freedom to express political views. And 75 percent say their security from crime and violence has improved as well. After decades of oppression and war, many Afghans see a better life.

Read the whole thing. (Via BarcePundit).

UPDATE: Major John Tammes, who spent some time in Afghanistan with the Ordnance Corps, and also served as InstaPundit’s Afghan photo correspondent (see some of his photos here) sends this email:

I saw your story (and link to the Barcepundit) on the optimism of the Afghans. The past few months have been a little difficult – feelings of letdown, etc. Seeing something like this is…validation.

You and Franco have made my day!

Good! As I’ve said before, if you read the news coverage and it leaves you dispirited, demoralized, and depressed, that’s not an accident. That’s the goal.