New York Times OpEd writer Nicholas Kristof penned an aritcle titled, “1 Soldier or 20 Schools?” He writes, “…an unbalanced focus on weapons alone is often counterproductive, creating a nationalist backlash against foreign “invaders.” Over all, education has a rather better record than military power in neutralizing foreign extremism. And the trade-offs are staggering: For the cost of just one soldier in Afghanistan for one year, we could start about 20 schools there.”
As if we didn’t know.
But then, education has never been a priority in our nation so why should we think that it would be a priority ‘over there’? Here inAmerica, militarism is king and consumes both our interest and our Treasury. So, why would Americans even think of winning the hearts and minds of ‘the enemy’ let alone switch from guns to classrooms?
CARE, a humanitarian organization, operates 300 schools in Afghanistan, and not one has been burned by the Taliban. Greg Mortenson, of “Three Cups of Tea” fame, has overseen the building of 145 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and operates dozens more in tents or rented buildings — and he says that not one has been destroyed by the Taliban either.
Kristoff reminds us, “it is President Obama who is now requesting 6.1 percent more in military spending than the peak of military spending under Mr. Bush. And it is Mr. Obama who has tripled the number of American troops in Afghanistan since he took office. (A bill providing $37 billion to continue financing America’s two wars was approved by the House on Tuesday and is awaiting his signature.)”
Just imagine: one soldier cost the same as the building of 20 schools. It’s a simple comparison, but apparently lost on all of the smoke and debris of the bombs being detonated in the mountains of that country. Lost over there and clearly over here- to the President, Congress and the majority of the people of this nation.