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While I was reading Ted Rall’s April 4 article “U.S. can’t afford Afghan war,” I had an epiphany of what was needed to be done for Afghanistan. The United States needs to provide the people of Afghanistan with something that the “insurgents” cannot provide: a way out of poverty (40 percent unemployment and $800 per annum income). Instead of spending billions of dollars destroying the livelihood of the Afghan people, why not spend it on community development? Buy the poppy harvest at above market price, and then destroy it. The farmers will still get their income while at the same time the U.S. reduces opium production.

The U.S. could also send in an army of scientists to study the terrain to find out what alternative crops could be grown and provide the farmers with knowhow. The U.S. could also buy those crops. Part of the billions of dollars spent in Afghanistan could also be used to promote education and health care by training the local people to become teachers and health care workers.

The U.S. could send in its own unemployed professionals to work with the Afghans to develop their communities. By doing this the U.S. would be providing jobs to its own people while helping the people of Afghanistan. But all of this must be carried out with absolute respect for the culture and values of the Afghan people. In return the U.S. might also be able to win back the respect it has lost in recent years.

mary walters

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