Most readers of this weblog are aware that the United States is in a mission of “nation building” in Afghanistan. I know that we probably deny that, but that’s what it is. Going through Google data explorer I’m struck by what an exceptional nation we’ve decided to intervene in. Below is a chart which has infant mortality rate on the y-axis and life expectancy on the x-axis. I’ve allowed the bubbles to be defined by their regions in terms of color, and labelled the South & Central Asian nations to give a sense of the change in vital statistics for the “peers” of Afghanistan over the past generation. Observe that Sub-Saharan Africa is pulling away from Afghanistan in the last 10 years!