1 Soldier or 20 Schools

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.

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4 thoughts on “1 Soldier or 20 Schools

  1. While I agree with the thrust of the post, I do have a reservation. We have severe educational problems right here in the United States. As a country with limited financial resources right now and the next 10 to 20 years, I have to question of sending any money to Afghanistan to build schools and the where with all. And, how many palets of U.S. Treasury money has been airlifted out of Afghanistan by the corrupt government?
    A people living in the second century A. D., ought to be left alone to develop the nation state that they want. One more drop of U.S. blood or another penny is not in the national interests of the United States..

  2. We have severe educational problems right here in the United States. As a country with limited financial resources right now and the next 10 to 20 years, I have to question of sending any money to Afghanistan to build schools and the where with all. And, how many palets of U.S. Treasury money has been airlifted out of Afghanistan by the corrupt government?

    UTF, but this comment totally misses the point here. Afghanistan is a money pit. We know that. I agree with your last sentence, that one more drop of blood or another penny spent is not in the interest of the United States, but we are still pursuing a policy and a course of action that seems unstoppable…playing out an inevitably doomed presdestined plot that is the curse of the White Mans Burden…so to speak.

    We pursue the same cursed course of action that seems to be a mythologically repetitive fable.

    “Stop Me I’m Hurting Myself” we howl as we pound a brick against our skulls, but if anyone tries to intervene, we destroy them with the same brick and the cycle continues.

    The pont of the post here, as I interpret it, is the reality that we could be doing something completely different that would probably work.

  3. Not when there is no money to pay for it, M_R. Why should we go deeper in debt to build schools in foreign countries? It seems to me we need to take care of the United States first. What was that we cheered for with McGovern, “Come Home America”…..We need to “come home” in everything…

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