Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's The Schools Stupid!



The previous posts have been focusing on what is going wrong and whether Afghanistan is worth the effort of thousands of young Americans and the indirect support of the citizens in countries providing help to defeat the Taliban and give the next generation of Afghan children a better future than any of their preceding ancestors could imagine. Today a post by Thomas Barnett helped to answer part of that question, his comments below, introduce an article in the New York Times by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN.

Nice column.
Old but crude theme of mine: in many places, shrinking the Gap means liberating females and killing the hard line males who stand in the way.
Call it what you want, but it will be done because it's right--and we know it.

Friedman's column opens by saying the same thing that many Americans are thinking.
I confess, I find it hard to come to Afghanistan and not ask: Why are we here? Who cares about the Taliban? Al Qaeda is gone. And if its leaders come back, well, that’s why God created cruise missiles.
But every time I start writing that column, something stills my hand. This week it was something very powerful. I watched Greg Mortenson, the famed author of “Three Cups of Tea,” open one of his schools for girls in this remote Afghan village in the Hindu Kush mountains. I must say, after witnessing the delight in the faces of those little Afghan girls crowded three to a desk waiting to learn, I found it very hard to write, “Let’s just get out of here.”

When I read the article, I got the same sense to still my pen the next time I questioned the logic of is it worth it and how will it end? After you read this article, see if you can still convince yourself that we should walk away and see these children consigned to to a world where the value of a women is measured in her ability to produce the next generation of warriors and serve her master/husband. If this seems harsh, consider that all of the poverty stricken failed states we hear about today have a legacy built over centuries, of treating women as chattel. Teach a women to read, and she will pass that skill onto her child, boy or girl and the next generation will be more enlightened about their own self-worth and have the basic tools to make a difference in a complex world.

Read more and tell me we can just walk away.

I am not being a bleeding heart, trying to correct the ills of an imperfect world. Personally, I think that it is an impossible task to ask one nation, the United States to carry this load. We have allies, but in the face of the mounting losses, even our staunches allies are faltering. 5 Reasons Why Half of Britain Wants Troops out of Afghanistan
.But other's more enlightened than I, have written about the subject of empowering women and their voices can be found in books like those below.

And with Nicholas Kristoff' who writes for the New York Times and blogs as Nick Kristoff blog

Finally Greg Mortenson, the builder of 179 schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

All these pens have written of the importance of empowering women. This is not some women's lib rant, by a group of "girly men." These four voices along with Tom Friedman, Admiral Mullen and Greg Mortenson understand why empowering women will lead to a more connected and ultimately a safer world for everyone.


Agha H Amin said...

i did construct some schools for USAID in 2004-5 and it was an atrocious design.The original rate i think was around 400,000 USD per school.Louis Burger gave it to us for 110,000 USD ,we gave it to subs for around 60,000 to 80,000 USD.subs gave t0 sub subs for around 25,000 to 40,000 USD.What a waste with taxpayers money.And then to top it all the roof truss design was faulty.The story made it to the cover in washington post.

Tailpiece-Instead of the firm in question being brought to questioning the same guys got another multi billion USD project in afghanistan.

HISTORYGUY99 said...

Hi Agha,

Thanks for your insight on this subject.

It seems anytime a government agency gets involved, the cost goes out the window. Leave it to a private individual like Greg Mortenson to raise the money and open the schools.