Face The Nation: Bob Schieffer's Commentary On Nation Building


I don't agree with Bob Schieffer all that often but I do agree with most of his points on this one. From CBS News' Face the Nation, Nov. 1, 2009--A Class in Nation-Building 101:

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, as the president tries to develop a new strategy in Afghanistan, I wonder if this is the real lesson that we’ve learned in Afghanistan so far, that nation-building, like charity, probably begins at home, at least the way we seem to be going about it in Afghanistan.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Terrorism poses a threat to America’s national security, but is trying to build a Western-style nation in Afghanistan by funneling money to its leaders really the best way to combat terrorism?

I guess what set me off is that story about how we’ve secretly put the president of Afghanistan’s brother on the CIA payroll. He’s the one who is supposed to be mixed up in the drug trade. The idea was that, by doing that, he’ll help us pave the way to building a democracy there. Now, that’s good work if you can get it. But I don’t see how that is making us safer.

Whatever the size of the military force the president decides on for Afghanistan, I think he needs to be paying more attention to where the money is going for the non-military spending there. Incredibly, no one really seems to know. The judge by what we’ve gotten from it so far, we’d be much better off with some nation-building back home. Our infrastructure is already a mess.

We could start at the Oakland Bay Bridge, where a 5,000 pound part of the top fell off into the traffic below. That would certainly make us safer, for sure.

In Afghanistan, we’re having to relearn what we should have already known, that we can help others but we can’t do it for them. And when we have to pay others to help themselves, I don’t see how that helps anyone but the guy getting paid.


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