It’s All About Schools?

Feb 10 2010 @ 1:18pm

Andrew Exum counters Tom Friedman:

Building schools is a lovely thing, and as the great Greg Mortenson pointed out to me in Kabul once, when you teach little girls to read, you teach entire villages to read. (Because the girls teach their mothers.) And female literacy then leads to a healthy drop in birth rates and less poverty. That's all wonderful. Education transforms societies. But education only has a place in counterinsurgency — most naturally a subfield of stabilization operations — if you can prove that a lack of schools is a driver of conflict. And as far as counter-terrorism is concerned, well, the idea that more schools will lead to a drop in terrorism remains one of those things that sounds good when discussed at dinner parties but has yet to be proven and is, if we are to trust our research thus far, most likely false.