General Petraeus summed up the real issues confronting American and NATO forces in Afghanistan by saying what is most important for success is “shovels, tractors and teaching degrees.” He emphasized in fighting the Taliban it entailed “more than just killing or capturing terrorists and extremists.” A major problem in Afghanistan is focusing on the Taliban and not focusing enough on economic development, and providing jobs for Afghans. Of course, jobs in themselves are also not the “solution” because what is lacking in Afghanistan is any semblance of either a short or long term plan.
Unfortunately, General Petraeus can not discuss the major problem confronting the war in Afghanistan. From President Karzai down, the government is led by corrupt, incompetent individuals who line their pockets with money rather than ensure money flows into economic development. Unfortunately, General Petraeus as a military leader is unable to confront the major issue of –drugs. We focus energy on destroying drugs. How about purchasing the entire drug crop of farmers and depriving the Taliban of that source of revenue?
To those of us who spent our lives with the Kennedy brothers, Ted the youngest not only lasted the longest, but most probably achieved as much as his more famous brother, John, when it came to securing legislation that improved the lives of those who experience oppression. John Kennedy died too early to carve out an important program of social change, Robert, most probably was the one who was most impacted by family events and by the end of his short life displayed the capacity to be a significant agent of change in America. His compassion for those who are oppressed and endure prejudice was shared by Ted and we can never forget that he became more than he was as a young man.
Ted Kennedy was born to wealth and power. Ironically, he devoted his life to those who were poor and without power. Some will note his flaws, but who is without flaws. In the end, the only legacy he really wanted these past few years was passage of a health reform care package.