"Countering Social Ills in Afghanistan Through Development"

During our charla today, we watched a video about the war in Afghanistan. The point of the video was to convince the viewer that the war in Afganistan is not working and that we should withdraw our troops (instead of deploying 40,000 more troops) from the country.

The video recommended development as a more effective means of quelling anti-Western hatred, and I tend to agree. The main issue was security from an American standpoint, i.e. reducing terrorism. Well, it's obvious why war as a security measure is a fallacy; why sending more troops into a country that dislikes being occupied will not increase our security but instead will foment more anti-Westernism.

But another, often more contentious issue is the problem of social ills; of human rights issues. The situation is surely bad (from an American ideological standpoint) in Afghanistan, with human and civil rights abuses, especially directed at women, common. And a lot of Americans see the war as the means to liberate the country from the oppressive, misogynist policies of the Taliban.

This is surely a topic to invest more time in, and this is an oversimplification of the topic, but an important question for me is: why do conservative, misogynist, oppressive ideologues gain, and maintain, power? One answer for me is scarcity.

When there are only so many resources and so much power to go around, those in power and with resources will hold it by all means. This means violence and oppression, in order to keep power and resources in the hands of those who hold them. So, women, minorities, and the marginalized suffer.

But, as a country develops, it liberalizes. As there are more resources to go around, civil rights expand. When there are more educational opportunities, fanaticism decreases. At least, that's how it seems to me, because if your prosperity is no longer tied to oppression of others - meaning when there are enough jobs to go around (Afghanistan has a 40% unemployment rate), and enough resources to distribute, such that another person making their living will not mean that you cannot make your own - then there is a drastic reduction in the impetus to fight or oppress others, because they are no longer a threat to your prosperity. Right? Development can be seen as a means to better society by reducing scarcity.

Maybe I need to think this through more and really analyze the issue, but it seems like development - investing in infrastructural improvements in the country, in hospitals and schools, in rebuilding all that the war has destroyed, projects that are built and run by local Afghanis - will counter those social "ills" we see in the country (and, of course, counter terrorism) far more effectively than troops can.

Anyway. Here's an article I found that explains the security angle better, and has some actual data.

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