Real intellectual work
For other people's children
I came across an old FB post of mine from Dec. 16. 2008 on the topic of war and curriculum.
Real intellectual work
I had to laugh this morning, watching the usual parade of expert white guys on Morning Joe. This time it was Council of Foreign Relations chief Richard Haas trying to make some sense about the futility of a military strategy for Afghanistan.
A 20,000-troop "surge" is no long-term solution, he says. We've got to do more to build up the infrastructure. Like in their schools, which now focus on "rote memorization rather than real intellectual work."
Isn't it great, how smart we are about other people's children?
The “surge” Haas was referring to was Pres. Barack Obama’s desperate attempt to salvage a deteriorating military situation in Afghanistan by committing thousands of more troops to the war effort.
It was modeled on the “surge” in Iraq by then-Pres. Bush George W. Bush, who in 2007, sent 20,000 more troops to the war to try and save Baghdad from being overtaken by insurgents.
In 2009, a little over a year after Haas’ comments on Morning Joe, Obama replaced his top general and then approved sending an additional 30,000 troops from the marines and army, in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the war from being lost. The extra troops, in addition to the 21,000 dispatched in March of that year, meant America's engagement in Afghanistan doubled since he became president. The extra cost of the deployment was estimated at $35 billion, at a time when the US was “strapped for cash” because of the recession and spending an estimated million dollars per troop each year.
Haas, the head of the Council on Foreign Relations, was part of a faction of policy “experts” who opposed expanding the obviously failed military operation in Afghanistan and concentrating forces instead on securing Kabul and a few other big cities.
Following Pres. Biden’s troop withdrawal, Haas has become one of Biden’s loudest critics. His 2007 school-reform proposal for “real intellectual work” rather than rote learning in Afghan schools amounted to little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The great irony was that similar prescriptions for “real intellectual work” rather than Bush’s No Child Left Behind testing madness, had fallen on deaf ears.
More importantly, all prescriptions for continuing and expanding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were made at the expense of public education at home.
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Reminds me of the song "Where have all the flowers gone?" which concludes, "When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?"