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Saggysack
12-04-2009, 05:54 AM
Johnson, Gorbachev, Obama
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/03/opinion/03kristof.html

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF


Imagine you’re a villager living in southern Afghanistan. You’re barely educated, proud of your region’s history of stopping invaders and suspicious of outsiders. Like most of your fellow Pashtuns, you generally dislike the Taliban because many are overzealous, truculent nutcases.

Yet you are even more suspicious of the infidel American troops. You know of some villages where the Americans have helped build roads and been respectful of local elders and customs. On the other hand, you know of other villages where the infidel troops have invaded homes, shamed families by ogling women, or bombed wedding parties.

You’re angry that your people, the Pashtuns, traditionally the dominant tribe of Afghanistan, seem to have been pushed aside in recent years, with American help. Moreover, the Afghan government has never been more corrupt. The Taliban may be incompetent, but at least they are pious Muslim Pashtuns and reasonably honest.

You were always uncomfortable with foreign troops in your land, but it wasn’t so bad the first few years when there were only about 10,000 American soldiers in the entire country. Now, after President Obama’s speech on Tuesday, there soon will be 100,000. That’s three times as many as when the president took office, and 10 times as many as in 2003.

Hmmm. You still distrust the Taliban, but maybe they’re right to warn about infidels occupying your land. Perhaps you’ll give a goat to support your clansman who joined the local Taliban.

That’s why so many people working in Afghanistan at the grass roots are watching the Obama escalation with a sinking feeling. President Lyndon Johnson doubled down on the Vietnam bet soon after he inherited the presidency, and Mikhail Gorbachev escalated the Soviet deployment that he inherited in Afghanistan soon after he took over the leadership of his country. They both inherited a mess — and made it worse and costlier.

As with the Americans in Vietnam, and Soviets in Afghanistan, we understate the risk of a nationalist backlash; somehow Mr. Obama has emerged as more enthusiastic about additional troops than even the corrupt Afghan government we are buttressing.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned in his report on the situation in Afghanistan that “new resources are not the crux” of the problem. Rather, he said, the key is a new approach that emphasizes winning hearts and minds: “Our strategy cannot be focused on seizing terrain or destroying insurgent troops; our objective must be the population.”

So why wasn’t the Afghan population more directly consulted?

“To me, what was most concerning is that there was never any consultation with the Afghan shura, the tribal elders,” said Greg Mortenson, whose extraordinary work building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan was chronicled in “Three Cups of Tea” and his new book, “From Stones to Schools.” “It was all decided on the basis of congressmen and generals speaking up, with nobody consulting Afghan elders. One of the elders’ messages is we don’t need firepower, we need brainpower. They want schools, health facilities, but not necessarily more physical troops.”

For the cost of deploying one soldier for one year, it is possible to build about 20 schools.

Another program that is enjoying great success in undermining the Taliban is the National Solidarity Program, or N.S.P., which helps villages build projects that they choose — typically schools, clinics, irrigation projects, bridges. This is widely regarded as one of the most successful and least corrupt initiatives in Afghanistan.

“It’s a terrific program,” said George Rupp, the president of the International Rescue Committee. “But it’s underfunded. And it takes very little: for the cost of one U.S. soldier for a year, you could have the N.S.P. in 20 more villages.”

These kinds of projects — including girls’ schools — are often possible even in Taliban areas. One aid group says that the Taliban allowed it to build a girls’ school as long as the teachers were women and as long as the textbooks did not include photos of President Hamid Karzai. And the Taliban usually don’t mess with projects that have strong local support. (That’s why they haven’t burned any of Mr. Mortenson’s schools.)

America’s military spending in Afghanistan alone next year will now exceed the entire official military budget of every other country in the world.

Over time, education has been the single greatest force to stabilize societies. It’s no magic bullet, but it reduces birth rates, raises living standards and subdues civil conflict and terrorism. That’s why as a candidate Mr. Obama proposed a $2 billion global education fund — a promise he seems to have forgot.

My hunch is that if Mr. Obama wants success in Afghanistan, he would be far better off with 30,000 more schools than 30,000 more troops. Instead, he’s embarking on a buildup that may become an albatross on his presidency.

BucEyedPea
12-04-2009, 09:50 AM
My hunch is that if Mr. Obama wants success in Afghanistan, he would be far better off with 30,000 more schools than 30,000 more troops. Instead, he’s embarking on a buildup that may become an albatross on his presidency.

Oh my gawd! :eek: If there's anything worse than a military interventionist, it's the liberal/progressive humanitarian interventionist. Social engineering and nation-building....blah, blah blah! As if that's not being done. Spend, spend, spend!

KC native
12-04-2009, 10:20 AM
Oh my gawd! :eek: If there's anything worse than a military interventionist, it's the liberal/progressive/SOCIALISTIC, NEOCON, humanitarian interventionist. Social engineering and nation-building....blah, blah blah! As if that's not being done. Spend, spend, spend!

FYP, you forgot a couple of labels :thumb:

Saggysack
12-04-2009, 10:48 AM
Oh my gawd! :eek: If there's anything worse than a military interventionist, it's the liberal/progressive humanitarian interventionist. Social engineering and nation-building....blah, blah blah! As if that's not being done. Spend, spend, spend!

Yeah, what a bunch of evildoers. Much braver to blindly turn an eye of apathy and claim, "I's gots mines, bitch!"

BucEyedPea
12-04-2009, 11:05 AM
Yeah, what a bunch of evildoers. Much braver to blindly turn an eye of apathy and claim, "I's gots mines, bitch!"

Sounds like the envy of a communist. "What's your's is MINE! Nobody really OWNS ANYTHING anyway!"

wild1
12-04-2009, 11:59 AM
Why build schools, when he hands the country back over to the Taliban/AQ in 7/2011, they'll just tear them down.

Saggysack
12-04-2009, 12:08 PM
Sounds like the envy of a communist. "What's your's is MINE! Nobody really OWNS ANYTHING anyway!"


Yes, we all know your tired old tale of doing something beneficial for others without expectations of return payment is wholely and entirely communistic. I'm sorry if your privileged ass may be asked to give 30 cent can of corn once in a while.

Saggysack
12-04-2009, 12:09 PM
Why build schools, when he hands the country back over to the Taliban/AQ in 7/2011, they'll just tear them down.

And sending troops into a killing zone is supposed to accomplish what?

SNR
12-04-2009, 12:42 PM
Yes, we all know your tired old tale of doing something beneficial for others without expectations of return payment is wholely and entirely communistic. I'm sorry if your privileged ass may be asked to give 30 cent can of corn once in a while.Do you not see what state our economy is in?

We can't ****ing afford it. The 90s are over.

Saggysack
12-04-2009, 01:15 PM
Do you not see what state our economy is in?

We can't ****ing afford it. The 90s are over.


We haven't been able to afford many things for decades. Not being able to afford 'it' has never stopped us.

Calcountry
12-04-2009, 02:21 PM
We haven't been able to afford many things for decades. Not being able to afford 'it' has never stopped us.What do you do when your credit card returns the message: DECLINE ?

Heck, it has never stopped you before.

RaiderH8r
12-04-2009, 02:27 PM
Do you not see what state our economy is in?

We can't ****ing afford it. The 90s are over.

But a $1.8Trillion socialized medicine program is quite affordable? The porkulus is affordable? The bail outs are affordable? The only one of these things that is guaranteed in the Constitution is for the common defense.

SNR
12-05-2009, 12:04 AM
But a $1.8Trillion socialized medicine program is quite affordable? The porkulus is affordable? The bail outs are affordable? The only one of these things that is guaranteed in the Constitution is for the common defense.Democrats believe adding these programs will make everything else more affordable, which is totally dumb. There's some weird math behind taxing people to pay for stuff that many of them already have so that they can save money and spread the economic wealth around this country like butter on bread. And then they laugh at the invisible hand.

Whatever. Anyway, no, I don't think we can afford that stuff. But at least we're not wasting it on other people in the world. If the country wants to help impoverished people, there's PLENTY to go around in this country right now.

Saggysack
12-05-2009, 10:35 AM
What do you do when your credit card returns the message: DECLINE ?

Heck, it has never stopped you before.

What do I do at that point? I buy failing feed stores. Looking to sell?

Calcountry
12-05-2009, 12:49 PM
What do I do at that point? I buy failing feed stores. Looking to sell?You want to buy?

BucEyedPea
12-05-2009, 03:28 PM
Yes, we all know your tired old tale of doing something beneficial for others without expectations of return payment is wholely and entirely communistic. I'm sorry if your privileged ass may be asked to give 30 cent can of corn once in a while.
Doing something beneficial for others?

That it's beneficial is debatable and is different to each of us, but who are you to tell anyone what they should do for others in a free country. Who elected you to be the secular minister of the land? You haven't a clue what I do that may benefit others either except some smug high-horse elitist morality. A sense of property that's communistic is harmful for the country—not beneficial.

And I am not privileged. I've worked for everything I ever got coming from a blue-collar worker family. Sounds like you just haven't made it.