Afghanistan's sheer distances are the chief problem. It is not just
that there is no factory. It is not just that the factory has no
electricity. It is not just that the worker has no education that
would make him able to take a job in the factory if you built one and
provided it with energy. What could rural Afghanistan produce that is
worth enough to make it worthwhile to export -- by donkey, over
mountains, in many cases?
Comments and links are worth reading too.
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After seven years of refinement, the policy seems so buoyed by
illusions, caulked in ambiguous language and encrusted with moral
claims, analogies and political theories that it can seem futile to
present an alternative. It is particularly difficult to argue not for a
total withdrawal but for a more cautious approach. The best Afghan
policy would be to reduce the number of foreign troops from the current
level of 90,000 to far fewer – perhaps 20,000. In that case, two
distinct objectives would remain for the international community:
development and counter-terrorism. Neither would amount to the building
of an Afghan state. If the West believed it essential to exclude
al-Qaida from Afghanistan, then they could do it with special forces.
(They have done it successfully since 2001 and could continue
indefinitely, though the result has only been to move bin Laden across
the border.) At the same time the West should provide generous
development assistance – not only to keep consent for the
counter-terrorism operations, but as an end in itself.
reduction in troop numbers and a turn away from state-building should
not mean total withdrawal: good projects could continue to be
undertaken in electricity, water, irrigation, health, education,
agriculture, rural development and in other areas favoured by
development agencies. We should not control and cannot predict the
future of Afghanistan. It may in the future become more violent, or
find a decentralised equilibrium or a new national unity, but if its
communities continue to want to work with us, we can, over 30 years,
encourage the more positive trends in Afghan society and help to
contain the more negative.
I have only skimmed the article, so my comments will focus on the excerpt.
I prefer Stewart's policy to what we have now. However, I have one major objection to it. He wrote,
But the intervention in Afghanistan was a response to 9/11, sanctioned
by international law and a broad coalition; the objectives were those
of self-defence and altruism.
His proposal revolves around those two objectives. While I am all for the first objective, I have doubts about the second.
I am puzzled by conservatives who are all for spending US tax money on
good projects [that] could continue to be
undertaken in electricity, water, irrigation, health, education,
agriculture, rural development and in other areas favoured by
in Afghanistan but not on similarly altruistic projects in the US. Why should Afghans get US-funded 'free' health care while Americans don't?
I am not arguing for 'free' government health care in the US. Please note the scare quotes. My point is: if conservatives expect Americans to fend for themselves, why do they expect Americans to fund crutches for Afghans for years? Conservatives are always saying how welfare fosters dependence. Is that only true in America? Are we not fostering milllions of foreign dependents?
Tonight President Bush explained how he plans to get our troops out of Iraq. "Our strategy can be summed
up this way," he said. "As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."
I've heard politicians say this sort of thing before. But the
politicians were liberals, and the downtrodden people they talked about
were needy Americans. As these folks learned to support themselves,
government would no longer need to support them, the liberals promised.
As the poor stood up, we would stand down.
For 40 years, the
central argument of the Republican Party—George W. Bush's party—was
that liberals had it backward: If you prop people up, they'll never
stand up, and you'll never stand down. You have to let go. As you stand
down, they'll stand up.placeAd2(commercialNode,'midarticleflex',false,'') Which
brings us to the occupation of Iraq. In blood and money, it's fast
becoming the most expensive welfare program in the history of the
world. Like other welfare programs, it was a good idea when it started. [Saletan would say that; he is a liberal.]
Like other welfare programs, it has begun to overtax the treasury and
the public. Like other welfare programs, it warps the behavior of its
beneficiaries. But in one respect, it's unique. It's the one welfare program conservatives can't criticize or even recognize, because they're the ones running it.
If I were a poor American, I might wonder, why should I vote for McCain and let Iraqis and Afghans benefit from American tax dollars when I, an American, should be receiving government assistance? Why should I vote for McCain, who wants the US to spend a zillion years helping foreigners in the Middle East? Why shouldn't I vote for Obama, who will help me, an American?
Is it any wonder such people are pro-Democrat and anti-war?
What have government programs done for them? I need not describe what our inner cities are like.
Why are government programs abroad better? Because they are run by our military good guys, not them - not Leftist social worker bad guys?
Around 2005, someone asked, if America can't even make Washington, DC a decent city, how could it possibly build a new Iraq (and, I would add, Afghanistan)?
Altruism may even conflict with the first objective of self-defense. Dependents are not necessarily grateful. Ask the North Koreans of 2009 how grateful they are for their 1930s Japanese trains and 1930s Japanese medical equipment. Dependents resent their position and a few Afghan dependents may turn to terrorism.
Speaking of terrorists, how much of a threat do the Taliban pose to us at present? It's often been said that we fight them over there to keep us safe over here. What if we just prevent them from coming here? What if our immigration policy screened out jihadists? If the Taliban are so dangerous, why can't we minimize contact with them and their country? Why do our doors have to stay wide open?
Suppose Stewart's nightmare scenario came true:
Even if – as seems most unlikely – the Taliban were to take the
capital, it is not clear how much of a threat this would pose to US or
European national security.
When someone goes berserk in a poor American neighborhood, the police come, neutralize the threat, and leave. The police do not stay for eight years and double as social workers wrestling with 'root causes'. If the American police doesn't build neighborhoods for poor Americans - and if America is the world's policeman - why does Officer America have to build Afghanistan?
Unfortunately, Stewart's proposal is going to be more popular than mine. His altruism appeals to both Leftists and Rightists who dream of helping the Third World. (The real conflict between them is whether the poor in the West should receive government assistance.) My proposal is too mean. Lock our doors and let the Afghans deal with their own problems? Not likely.
So I fear we'll continue to stay the course in Afghanistan and Iraq while real threats go unchecked in Iran and North Korea. Which is a greater danger to the US, the Taliban or nukes?
Posted by: Amritas at July 17, 2009 08:27 PM (h9KHg)
You wrote this in another post, but I thought my comment would be more relevant here:
how casually an Afghan man says he would divorce his wife and choose another if she couldn't bear children.
I think you understand why I get nauseated by the thought of Americans fighting for Afghans.
Regarding Planet Afghanistan, we still hear the deadly cliché that "all
human beings want the same basic things, such as better lives and
greater opportunities for their children." How does that apply to
Afghan aliens who prefer their crude way of life and its merciless cults?
Detroit’s public schools are on the verge of bankruptcy, reports the Wall Street Journal ... Of those who start ninth grade, only a quarter claim a diploma four years late ...
Detroit would be the first major urban district to go bankrupt, but it probably won’t be the last.
Is it because the former are distant abstractions for those on the homefront, whereas the latter are all too familiar and depressing? Have we given up on our fellow Americans in favor of an "irresistible illusion" in the Middle East?
Posted by: Amritas at July 22, 2009 12:57 PM (+nV09)
Two years ago I liked watching and listening to Glenn Beck but I thought he was way out there crazy. Now I think he is one of the few who gets it and did a long time ago. Monday night we attended a 912 project meeting here in our town. Next time we are going to help them start a blog, not enough organization going on yet. People can keep in touch and comment on a blog. HNN really gave up on a great guy, I bet his program had better ratings than anything they had then or have now.
Posted by: Ruth H at July 15, 2009 09:07 PM (BkiKe)
It's clips like that one that make me very worried for his safety... and sad that we don't get FNC (and that I spend so much time on political stuff that I don't have all the time to catch up with his tv show!) I have to settle for my insider-enhanced radio privileges, LOL...
But he's right, and the more people who realize it, the more hope we have to root out the corruption... thanks for posting such a great clip!!!
Posted by: Krista at July 16, 2009 03:21 PM (sUTgZ)
"You understand that my column was basically a prophesy," I shot back. I had suggested right-leaning ideas weren't welcome on campus and in response the faculty had tied my viewpoints to racism and addressed me with profanity-laced insults.
What's so remarkable is that I hadn't actually advocated Republican ideas or conservative ideas. In fact, I'm not a conservative, nor a Republican. I simply believe in the concept of diversity – a primarily liberal idea – and think that we suffer when we don't include ideas we find unappealing.
Yes, it's a problem. Why aren't all of his professors Communists? I expected better from North Berkeley.
Imagine a world where people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations believe in one true ideology and worship one Great Leader. Diversity through conformity!
Posted by: kevin at July 14, 2009 12:39 PM (+nV09)
Very interesting read. Thanks for the link!
I clicked through to read his article, and then his original op-ed that had gotten him in trouble at school... and came across this interesting bit:
I want Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Marxists, Independents and anyone with a halfway decent idea that doesn't incorporate hate.
Well, that's the kicker, isn't it? :-)
People can have hate, regardless of their political leanings.
But when it comes to ideology, which seems more "hateful":
a) Regardless of your feelings, you may not violate Person X's rights, nor may you join with others to do so in a collective fashion; or
b) Regardless of your feelings or actions, if you have a material or immaterial advantage over Person X, then Person X may individually or collectively violate your rights to eliminate that inequality
(Oh, this is SO getting its own blog post soon...)
Posted by: Krista at July 14, 2009 02:39 PM (sUTgZ)
This part: "I want Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Marxists, Independents and anyone with a halfway decent idea that doesn't incorporate hate." should've been in quotes...
Posted by: Krista at July 14, 2009 02:40 PM (sUTgZ)
Thanks for finding the original article, Krista. I hope to see your article soon!
And thanks for quoting that key line. I also like what follows:
"I want that [intellectual diversity] more than free football tickets, a new basketball arena or
pretty much anything else a University could offer. In exchange for
paying $20,000 in tuition a year, I think I deserve it."
He's got a proper sense of priority. Academics before sports. And he should be demanding his money's worth.
Why are universities so overwhelmingly Leftist? One answer is that Leftism is obviously small-r right. Here's another:
The truth is that it is very, very hard to get a tenured faculty
position at a university. And the hiring process is unlike anything in a
private business. In most cases, one needs a unanimous vote of the professors
in one’s department to get tenure. This puts a high priority on intangibles
like collegiality, which often translates into sharing the same politics and
ideology. David Boxenhorn commented:
This is a sure-fire way to get uniformity - and mediocrity. The most original
people are almost by definition controversial. (Not necessarily disliked, but
disbelieved.) A system to promote diversity would be designed differently, with
say, professors taking turns on a small tenure committee, or even having
outsiders be in charge. The system described above sounds more like a
self-perpetuating aristocracy or cult than anything else.
Academic freedom is supposedly a big deal, but
universities, at this point in time, have exactly the wrong kind of freedom:
There are no clear rules, instead there is a clear ideology to which you must
conform. So let's try to turn the situation around: What sort of rules should
there be? What should the academic meta-ideology be? Well, I know where to
start: The scientific method. Unfortunately, the scientific method is not easily
applicable to all fields of study, and it is true that in those areas where it
is clearly applicable (physics, for instance) ideology is much less important.
But, in fact, the scientific method (plus some statistics to make up for the
difficulty of doing experiments) can be applied much more widely than it is.
Fashionable fields like Woman's Studies or Black Studies are actually very
amenable to the scientific method, if you are honest. And it's beyond me why
Linguistics isn't a "true science" - you can really do experiments in many
branches of Linguistics almost like you can in Physics. So the first rule of
academia should be: I can say anything I want as long as I can back it up with
the scientific method. I think that will get us far, but what about areas like
Political Science, Literature and History? I don't know, but I'm open to
I am fascinated by the idea of applying the scientific method to identity studies. Why can't the history and current status of women and blacks - or men and whites - be studied scientifically?
Posted by: Amritas at July 14, 2009 03:26 PM (+nV09)
Capitalism is liberating: You’re born a peasant but you don’t
have to die one. You can work hard and get a nice place in the suburbs.
If you were a 19th century Russian peasant and you got to Ellis Island,
you’d be living in a tenement on the Lower East Side, but your kids
would get an education and move uptown, and your grandkids would be
doctors and accountants in Westchester County.
great-grandchild would be a Harvard-educated environmental activist
demanding an end to all this electricity and indoor toilets.
Back in the 70s, I really believed we would run out of oil in ten years. Didn't happen. I've been wary of ecopalyptic predictions ever since.
Your quote of Steyn sums up the last four generations: from Old World peasant to New World activist aristocrat. Now that's progress!
The last line of Steyn's that you quoted reminds me of this post of yours that I happened to reread last night.
Posted by: Amritas at July 13, 2009 07:59 AM (h9KHg)
Speaking of toilets (and you totally started it):
My Great-great grandfather was so disgusted by the idea of indoor toilets that he refused to let my GG Grandmother put one in the house. Pooping mere feet from where food was prepared? REVOLTING.
My grandmother (who will be accompanying me to SBL Pendleton) still throws up her hands in frustration about that, and it happened over 70 years ago.
Posted by: airforcewife at July 13, 2009 02:33 PM (CDkfD)
I had a great aunt and uncle who lived in the country close to the Oklahoma/Kansas line. About 1943 or so the discovered oil on their farm and they came into money. The got water into the house They had a beautiful sink with water in the kitchen and built a fine bathroom, no toilet, just bathroom. They built a really nice outbuilding for the water flushed toilet. It was painted white with red rambler roses climbing up the walls. My aunt wouldn't have a toilet in the house. The idea! I wish that aunt were still alive. she was a wonderful musician, could play anything she ever heard on the piano and could not read a note of music. That whole family, including my dad, had wonderful voices and sang a lot anytime they all got together.
Posted by: Ruth H at July 13, 2009 02:49 PM (BkiKe)
And the term PRT, though accurate in Iraq, should be changed to “PCT” (Provincial COnstruction Team) in Afghanistan. The Provincial REconstruction Teams in Iraq are far different. The term “reconstruction” in Iraq is generally correct, but it’s usually a misnomer in Afghanistan and confuses people at home by implying there was something here to reconstruct.
Oh our Obama, we actually agree with Michael Yon! It is Omerica's duty to construct in Afghanistan, to build where there was nothing before, to give selflessly to our Muslim brothers and sisters in the greatest redistribution project in humyn history. It is not fair that infidels in Omerica get to enjoy all this wealth. Most of those riches must be shared with Afghanistan ... Iraq, victim of the biggest crime of all time ... Africa ... the entire Third World! Work, Omericans, work ... never rest until every Afghan can read the Holy Qur'ān at your expense!
Stop being selfish about your money ... and your land. Open your borders. Let the entire world in. There's more than enough room for a billion people! Or two. Why deprive them of the great government of the One? handOuts for all!
Just imagine the vvvvibrant diversity that will result when sharī`ah and gay marriage attempt to coexist in Vermontistan! We feel thrills going up our legs!
Posted by: kevin at July 05, 2009 05:58 AM (7burq)
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There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of living. --The Count of Monte Cristo--
While our troops go out to defend our country, it is incumbent upon us to make the country worth defending. --Deskmerc--
Contrary to what you've just seen, war is neither glamorous nor fun. There are no winners, only losers. There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: The American Revolution, WWII, and the Star Wars Trilogy. --Bart Simpson--
If you want to be a peacemaker, you've gotta learn to kick ass. --Sheriff of East Houston, Superman II--
Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. You just leave a lot of useless noisy baggage behind. --Jed Babbin--
Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. --President John F. Kennedy--
War is a bloody, killing business. You've got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. --General Patton--
We've gotta keep our heads until this peace craze blows over. --Full Metal Jacket--
Those who threaten us and kill innocents around the world do not need to be treated more sensitively. They need to be destroyed. --Dick Cheney--
The Flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. --Col Steven Arrington--
The purpose of diplomacy isn't to make us feel good about Eurocentric diplomatic skills, and having countries from the axis of chocolate tie our shoelaces together does nothing to advance our infantry. --Sir George--
I just don't care about the criticism I receive every day, because I know the cause I defend is right. --Oriol--
It's days like this when we're reminded that freedom isn't free. --Chaplain Jacob--
Bumper stickers aren't going to accomplish some of the missions this country is going to face. --David Smith--
The success of multilateralism is measured not merely by following a process, but by achieving results. --President Bush--
Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life.
First, go buy a six pack and swig it all down. Then, watch Ace Ventura. And after that, buy a Hard Rock Cafe shirt and come talk to me. You really need to lighten up, man.
You've got to kill people, and when you've killed enough they stop fighting --General Curtis Lemay--
If we wish to be free, if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending, if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained -- we must fight! --Patrick Henry--
America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them. And every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American. --President George W. Bush--
are usually just cheerleading sessions, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing but a soothing reduction in blood pressure brought about by the narcotic high of being agreed with. --Bill Whittle
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
--John Stuart Mill--
We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other. --General George Marshall--
We can continue to try and clean up the gutters all over the world and spend all of our resources looking at just the dirty spots and trying to make them clean. Or we can lift our eyes up and look into the skies and move forward in an evolutionary way.
America is the greatest, freest and most decent society in existence. It is an oasis of goodness in a desert of cynicism and barbarism. This country, once an experiment unique in the world, is now the last best hope for the world.
Recent anti-Israel protests remind us again of our era's peculiar alliance: the most violent, intolerant, militantly religious movement in modern times has the peace movement on its side. --James Lileks--
As a wise man once said: we will pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
Unless the price is too high, the burden too great, the hardship too hard, the friend acts disproportionately, and the foe fights back. In which case, we need a timetable.
I am not willing to kill a man so that he will agree with my faith, but I am prepared to kill a man so that he cannot force my compatriots to submit to his.
You can say what you want about President Bush; but the truth is that he can take a punch. The man has taken a swift kick in the crotch for breakfast every day for 6 years and he keeps getting up with a smile in his heart and a sense of swift determination to see the job through to the best of his abilties.
In a perfect world, We'd live in peace and love and harmony with each oither and the world, but then, in a perfect world, Yoko would have taken the bullet.
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. --Ronald Reagan--
America is rather like life. You can usually find in it what you look for. It will probably be interesting, and it is sure to be large. --E.M. Forster--
Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOR. That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoemaking and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse. --Mark Twain--
The Enlightenment was followed by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, which touched every European state, sparked vicious guerrilla conflicts across the Continent and killed millions. Then, things really turned ugly after the invention of soccer. --Iowahawk--
Every time I meet an Iraqi Army Soldier or Policeman that I haven't met before, I shake his hand and thank him for his service. Many times I am thanked for being here and helping his country. I always tell them that free people help each other and that those that truly value freedom help those seeking it no matter the cost. --Jack Army--
Right, left - the terms are useless nowadays anyway. There are statists, and there are individualists. There are pessimists, and optimists. There are people who look backwards and trust in the West, and those who look forward and trust in The World. Those are the continuums that seem to matter the most right now. --Lileks--
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
A man or a nation is not placed upon this earth to do merely what is pleasant and what is profitable. It is often called upon to carry out what is both unpleasant and unprofitable, but if it is obviously right it is mere shirking not to undertake it. --Arthur Conan Doyle--
A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself. --John Stuart Mill--
After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." --Dave Grossman--
At heart I’m a cowboy; my attitude is if they’re not going to stand up and fight for what they believe in then they can go pound sand. --Bill Whittle--
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. --Alexander Tyler--
By that time a village half-wit could see what generations of professors had pretended not to notice. --Atlas Shrugged--
I kept asking Clarence why our world seemed to be collapsing and everything seemed so shitty. And he'd say, "That's the way it goes, but don't forget, it goes the other way too." --Alabama Worley--
So Bush is history, and we have a new president who promises to heal the planet, and yet the jihadists don’t seem to have got the Obama message that there are no enemies, just friends we haven’t yet held talks without preconditions with.
"I had started alone in this journey called life, people started
gathering up on the way, and the caravan got bigger everyday." --Urdu couplet
The book and the sword are the two things that control the world. We either gonna control them through knowledge and influence their minds, or we gonna bring the sword and take their heads off. --RZA--
It's a daily game of public Frogger, hopping frantically to avoid being crushed under the weight of your own narcissism, banality, and plain old stupidity. --Mary Katharine Ham--
There are more instances of the abridgment of freedoms
of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. --James Madison--
It is in the heat of emotion that good people must remember to stand on principle. --Larry Elder--
Please show this to the president and ask him to remember the wishes of the forgotten man, that is, the one who dared to vote against him. We expect to be tramped on but we do wish the stepping would be a little less hard. --from a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt--
The world economy depends every day on some engineer, farmer, architect, radiator shop owner, truck driver or plumber getting up at 5AM, going to work, toiling hard, and producing real wealth so that an array of bureaucrats, regulators, and redistributors can manage the proper allotment of much of the natural largess produced. --VDH--
Parents are often so busy with the physical rearing of children that they miss the glory of parenthood, just as the grandeur of the trees is lost when raking leaves. --Marcelene Cox--