The following video shows a different side of the war in Afghanistan; a side many of us are unaccustomed to seeing. The boy in the video, Mir, was an 8 year old Afghan child in 2002, just months after United States-led NATO invasion of the nation. Ten years later, with the United States military still engaged in a War on Terror in the country, Mir is now a young man. One would hope that the world he is about to enter has been bettered by the enormous amount of international intervention the nation has received. After a decade and trillions of US taxpayer dollars spent in Afghanistan, however, is the nation really all that better off today?
This post is not intended to be politically motivated. The United States’ initial invasion into Afghanistan was supported by nearly every American, and more importantly, the rest of the world. Additionally, the video itself, does not paint an entirely negative picture of the situation in Afghanistan. It does, however, raise an issue that deserves to be contemplated, and that is the value of humanitarian aid vs. military aid. Essentially, would it be more effective to build schools instead of bombs and provide clean water instead of security patrols? While I think the idea of “bringing democracy” to other areas of the world is admirable, many scholars would agree that not all countries are ready for it. This is not to say that democracy is not for everyone. I believe that it is, or can be. Democracy, however, is usually only successful in nations with large middle classes. The idea is that middle and upper classes concern themselves with politics and government, while the lower classes of the are concerned with survival. In a nation with a high level of poverty and a small middle class, (e.g. Afghanistan) they don’t need politics, they need infrastructure. They need roads, hospitals, and schools.
Putting a number on the cost of war in Afghanistan is not easy. Putting a number on the cost of humanitarian aid is slightly easier. The comparison is really night and day. Put the legitimacy of the war aside, lets talk about the means. An Afghan in the video claims that every bomb that misses its target creates 100 more Taliban. I wonder how many US Supporters we create by building a school?