The Children of Afghanistan

Painting Afghan Children
Afghan Children – Painting by Norbert Haupt – 1980

The war in Afghanistan has gone on for more than twelve years. That’s a long time in a child’s life. Considering that we all remember very little of our own childhood before age three or four, this would mean that any Afghan youth now 17 or 18 years old would have no memory in his life of not being at war. For them, the state of war has existed forever.

Afghan Children
Afghan children line up for food distributed by UNICEF at Maslakh refugee camp, approximately 6 miles west of Herat in western Afghanistan. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

Here are their faces. Many have never known what a “normal” life is like. They were born and have grown up in refugee camps. Many have lost their parents.

Looking up the demographics of the United States and Afghanistan, a vast difference is apparent:

Demographics USDemographics AfghanistanFirst, there are very few old people in Afghanistan.

Second, more than 42.6 percent of all people in Afghanistan are children under 14 years of age.

Given what I said above, that we don’t remember much before age three or four, more than half of the entire population of Afghanistan knows the United States only as a nation of warriors, patrolling their country, at war inside their country.

When I think about this, it occurs to me that we only need to wait another 15 years or so, and just about everyone alive in Afghanistan will know us as we want to be known. We don’t need rockets, drones, bombs, bullets or tanks. All we need to do is be nice and wait. The children of Afghanistan will be our friends, if we act like friends. Or they will be our enemies, if we act like enemies.

As a matter of that, we could have fed and clothed these children for the past 12 years for a fraction of the hundreds of billions of dollars we have spent on military action, and we would have an entire generation of Afghans, 50% of the entire population, who would be our friends.

As we said so aptly in the sixties: Make love, not war.

Yet, we keep propagating the idiocy of war.

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