Let’s imagine that several different localities do in fact develop effective governance at the local level. That’s good for the local leaders and good for the local people. But what happens next? Do effective local leaders want to submit to the authority of an ineffective central government? Does the population of well-governed localities want to see their effective local government subordinated to an ineffective central state? If the goal is some kind of Afghan state that holds some approximation of a monopoly on the use of force inside Afghanistan’s borders, then I don’t think rays of hope at the local level actually constitute steps toward that goal.