Where are the Books?

We are spending a God-awful amount of money to support the Iraq and Afghanistan war fronts.  I believe we are closing in on direct costs of $1 trillion.  The indirect costs – mainly in replacements for damaged and destroyed equipment – is going to raise the total bill to probably closer to $2 trillion.  This is borrowed money; the Bush administration has never included it in the federal budget and instead has called it “emergency spending” since the beginning of the war.  While unaccounted war appropriations might be harder to come by in 2007 with a Democratically-controlled Congress, it is plain that this country will go into an unfathomable amount of future debt to continue blowing things up.  The recently-announced increase in troop strength in Iraq will only exacerbate the flow of red ink.

From the very beginning I have questioned our government’s (and society’s) willingness to solve its terrorist problems by trying to bomb the hell out of them.  It doesn’t seem to be working very well.

I have a different solution that doesn’t appear to get much press (or consideration, for that matter):  Don’t bomb the hell out of them them, educate the hell out of them instead.  Buy them books.  Take one-tenth of what we are paying for armaments and offer to purchase any amount of reading and writing material that any government or other organized group requests.

Am I advocating that terrorist groups be given Qurans and taught how to make bombs?  Absolutely, as long as they are also being taught readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic.  I believe that any educated society is far less likely to find its ultimate solutions behind the boresight of a gun, and more likely to cherish their improved standard of living.  China is rapidly learning that lesson.  Europe and Japan learned it 60 years ago.

Key government officials probably know that education is the least expensive path to peace and will never embrace this alternative to war, as it will ultimately result in the demise of the U.S.  In just 20 years China has trained enough of its population to co-opt a huge slice of the U.S. manufacturing sector.  India is not far behind.  We are rapidly losing our intellectual edge to other parts of the globe, and the results do not bode well for our future.  Imagine what the rest of the world could do if they to had access to a huge cache of educational materials and a solid educational system.  In the face of much of Asia, we are a lazy society and bound to fail as the rest of the world works harder and gets smarter.

Helping to educate the uneducated will help us win the war, at the cost of losing our global dominance.


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