Why We Couldn’t Fix Afghanistan

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 2 2012 @ 8:10pm

Matt Steinglass reflects on our failed attempts:

We were willing to spend a lot of money as long as it produced results. What we've learned is that development aid doesn't work this way. You can't get more definite results, or speed up the process, by spending more money. In fact, spending more money will most likely screw things up. We already learned this once, in Vietnam; now we've learned it again. Development aid will be successful where it takes a lower profile, doesn't spend so much money, and sets goals for itself that are modest and achievable within the constraints of what the locals actually want to do and what they're capable of doing. One other suggestion: it may seem sexier and more noble to develop a country that's in the middle of a war, but it might work better if you try a country that isn't.

Kevin Drum chips in his two cents.