There was a piece on one of the national news broadcasts this weekend about how our troops are building schools in Afghanistan. You would think they’re doing this in their “spare time”, but apparently it’s a “job” they’ve been ordered to do.
At the end of World War Two, we rebuilt western Europe under the European Recovery Program, which everybody called “The Marshall Plan”, named after a wartime general who became Secretary of State. Most people don’t remember that we offered the same deal to Russia, but they weren’t interested.
It was very nice of us to help rebuild nations like France and Germany after the war. And we built lots of schools. And factories, and homes, and businesses. But this was done after our enemies in the big war had surrendered unconditionally.
I’m one of these people you run into every so often who hold the apparently unusual idea that our military, especially our overseas combat forces, shouldn’t be building schools, or directing traffic, or doing anything except combat and combat support.
Why on earth would we send combat troops to Afghanistan to build schools?
I know, I know. Some people say we’re making a lot of friends over there by building schools and fixing the roads (oh, wait -there aren’t that many roads) and doing other stuff that doesn’t involve blowing things up or hunting down Al-Qaida, or the Taliban, or whoever we’re hunting down over there.
There’s still quite a bit of public sentiment, apparently left over from the days when Dick Cheney was calling the shots, that we have to go over there and make a lot of friends, so the young folks there don’t grow up to hate us and want to blow us up.
The big general in charge over there, Stanley McChrystal, is apparently asking President Obama to send thousands and thousands more soldiers to Afghanistan. If ten soldiers can build one school in a hundred days, imagine how many schools could be built by ten thousand soldiers. And so on. You get the idea.
Excuse my snarkiness, but we’ve been over there eight years now. We should decide if we’re going to hunt down bin Laden, hunt down Al-Qaida, hunt down the Taliban, or train the locals to do that; or, if we’re just going to build schools or grocery stores or whatever.
If we decide the latter, then let’s just have “civilian contractors” do it, and have Blackwater provide security for them, and bring the soldiers home.
That would seem the “friendly” thing to do, to me.