JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ON THE IDEA OF SENDING MORE BOOKS AND FEWER BULLETS TO AFGHANISTAN – SOME REALITIES BEHIND A SEEMINGLY NICE IDEA   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY CAROLINE MOOREHEAD IN THE GUARDIAN

Memo to Trump and the SAS – send the Afghans fewer bullets and more books

It was always stupid and brutal to send bullets, especially since the people of this poor, hardscrabble society, a place which can only barely be called a nation state, never in fact did anything against America.

But sending books to such an extremely poor and backward place, despite sounding nice, largely would be futile.

Our civilization is built on a foundation of increasing prosperity since the Middle ages.

Remember, in the Middle Ages, even many of the “lords” were genuine illiterates, and no peasants could read.

Only rising prosperity yields all that we have in schools, skills like reading, supplies of books, and almost everything you care to mention in real civilization, to say nothing of the opportunities to even use a skill like reading.

If you seriously study history, there is no other way to look at it.

The United States, if it dropped anything on these poor people, should have dropped dollar bills, not bombs.

But the truth is the US was never seriously interested in advancing Afghanistan’s poor people, nor is that the case now.

The invasion was about Captain Ahab seeking the “damned white whale,” and nothing else.

All the stuff about women and learning, while true enough, simply never seriously mattered except as copy for the press and official spokespeople for Washington.

You would have had no more luck in 14th century England dropping books. Why would you think it is different in Afghanistan?

Sounds thoughtful and cute, but it is pretty much a non-starter of an idea.
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Response to another comment:

Governance, just as with every other aspect of human culture, advances with prosperity too.

Eventually, instead of absolute king in Europe, groups of powerful nobles gained authority.

Then, as prosperity increased through changing technology – roads, ships, etc. – a middle class arose, people at an early time in England who were termed “the new men.” The “new men” did not own great estates or have castles but they had know-how and increasingly they had wealth by applying their know-how.

That is the key to modern society, the middle class.

Those are the people who eventually build parliaments and congresses. Those are the people who say we don’t need decisions made by kings or lords. Those are the people who get real public education going.

You cannot do these things in a very poor and backward place.

It’s a little like talking about putting clothes on farm animals.

Without growth in prosperity, there is little of what we all take for granted.

Posted September 21, 2017 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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