Afghanistan and the Indians

I sat down to a long cup of coffee with Leif Christoffersen, a Norwegian-American with long experience in African and Latin American countries and international aid organizations. It was at the time of the American pullout from Afghanistan, and I asked Leif what he thought about it.

Leif went immediately to “nation building,” and saw Afghanistan as the latest in a long line of big, mostly Western, often American attempts to “develop” what we once called “third world” countries from the top down. We fly into less developed or underdeveloped countries—and pay no attention to their own long histories, cultures, and stories of internal development. We find partners willing to play by our rules, and then pour resources—and oftentimes military assistance and our own troops—into efforts to wrestle the country into some political-cultural replica of our own. Read The Article

Invisible Indians

I had been reading David McCullough’s book, John Adams, with great pleasure. My knowledge of colonial times and the birth of the nation is old and limited, so the exploration of the lives and careers of Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Jay, Madison, Hamilton, and all of the lesser names and big ideas that led to a Declaration of Independence, the War for Independence, the Constitution and formation of a new nation was carrying me along like a good novel. The man can write!.

And then, on page 396, the first mention of Indians. Their absence in the first 395 pages had barely occurred to me.

Assessing the state of things on Adam’s return from Europe in 1789, McCullough tells us that the nation’s population has grown to four million, that the biggest city is Philadelphia, with 40,000, New York is growing quickly with 18,000, and Pittsburgh, the last western outpost, has but 500. (There are 700,000 slaves!)

As a result of Read The Article