The Chronicle’s View: Take Solace in the efforts of others

By and

When the political machine spews propaganda from the mouths of America’s president, perhaps it’s time to take a break from the two-party system and to look elsewhere for examples of admirable foreign policy.

There is one place beleaguered citizens can look. Ironically, it’s where much of the international-policy dispute had originated-Afghanistan.

Solace International, a non-profit organization, is using fund-raised revenue from a post-war atmosphere to build schools for young Afghani girls and develop small businesses in the country for women, as they have never been afforded the opportunity of an education or legitimate employment.

The efforts of Solace are essentially the first of its kind-self-starting, enterprising attempts to better the lives of those less privileged-and ought to be looked to as an indicator of the potential for an international policy devoid of destruction and focused on growth. Solace shows an example to which America could better its global role: by lowering the guns and raising the rafters.

As opposed to a doctrine of war-mongering disguised under the pretense of mislabeled imperialism, perhaps it would be better for the world’s most powerful nation to spend more time sharing the opportunities that make our nation so great as opposed to decimating that which is not ours.

Such was undoubtedly the theoretical goal of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq-to spread the underlying values of equality and respect that characterize American democracy.

However, as the war rages on and shows little, if any, sign of relenting in its bloodshed, the question deserves to be asked, “Is it possible that our intentions have been somehow subverted along the way?”

Your answer to that question undoubtedly varies with your personal political affiliation, beliefs and support of the current administration.

In a way, though, the point is not whether people disagree or agree on the validity of the ongoing war effort-in this instance, there is no way to misconstrue the intentions of the Solace Samaritans.

It’s not a difficult concept to understand or agree with: Education is a cornerstone of independence, and if autonomy is truly America’s goal for post-war Afghanistan, or Iraq for that matter, then what better way to empower those nations’ citizens than to give them the opportunity to learn about that which was never explained before?

This logic is often employed by those critical of the Bush administration, though its not a administration-specific critique, necessarily: If we really want countries like Afghanistan and Iraq to be free and independent, then why are so many of the fundamentals necessary for the success of any democracy (literacy, higher standards of education, ability for self-governance) not being provided?

It’s a legitimate concern and the issue it broaches is much larger than any single presidency: It is an issue that reflects the overall attitudes and values of the American people-which is more important, nation-building or society-building?

The point is that altruism and a heartfelt desire to provide for others that which has made your own life better are never destructive motives.

While it is obviously difficult to dethrone a dictator with grammar and diction, it’s equally difficult to help forge an independent society by bombing its non-threatening infrastructure. Thus, while it may be sometimes necessary to engage in warfare for the benefit of another nation, it is a course of action with much greater potential for destruction than one focused on the non-violent improvement of fundamental human opportunities.

Hopefully, regardless of which candidate the American people elect for the office of president in November, a greater focus on civic-minded international involvement will characterize his administration.