Saturday, November 10, 2001

A Marshall Plan for Afghanistan

True, Afghanistan and its neighbors are not like Europe, but he should remember three things about the Marshall Plan not often noted today:

• The Marshall Plan was a reconstruction program, but its major objective was to win minds. The enemy’s ideology then was communism, a strong political threat in Italy, France and the United Kingdom after World War II. The Marshall Plan basically “drained the swamps” where communism was feeding. Today’s war on terrorism is both a war to take down Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. But it is a war for minds, as well, an effort to remove support for terrorists in the Muslim world. To win the war on terrorism, we have to “drain the swamps” where Islamic terrorism recruits and draws its support.

• One of the Marshall Plan’s most successful components was its technical assistance program, which brought thousands of European leaders to the United States to travel, visit our businesses, and meet and talk with counterpart leaders here. This would also be an essential part of a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan, to demonstrate that “modernity” is not a threat to their culture and religion.

• The Marshall Plan forced the “warring tribes” in Europe (Germany and France, in particular) to work together to plan and agree among themselves on their own reconstruction needs. Today’s Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development is a direct descendant of the Office for European Economic Cooperation established in Paris to administer the Marshall Plan. We advised on what they thought they needed, but we did not dictate to them. This will be even more essential in Afghanistan.

In the accompanying counterpoint piece, columnist Bruce Fein proposes a U.N. protectorate because experience has shown that the warlords are unable to govern together on their own. The first thing the United Nations should insist on, learning from Marshall Plan experience, is an intermediary body to force the competing warlords to plan, negotiate and agree among themselves. They may not have read John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and John Stuart Mill, but they know how to negotiate for their own good.

Any attempt by the United Nations to negotiate with each of the warlords independently would lead to disaster. A Marshall Plan for reconstruction in Afghanistan would give the United Nations leverage to force cooperation where suspicion and in-fighting have reigned in the past.



Gordon O.F. Johnson is an adjunct scholar with the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. He was part of the Economic Cooperation Administration (Marshall Plan) from 1950 to 1952.

Straying from diet humans evolved on may play role in health problems

• I am female and a Ph.D., hence Dr. and not Mr. Broadhurst, as I was referred to in the article.

• I am very proud to be a visiting scientist at the Department of Agriculture Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. I am not, however, a U.S. government employee. Neither my views nor any views expressed in the article represent the viewpoint or official position of the Agriculture Department.

• No modern agricultural commodity is intrinsically “good” or “evil.” It is simply a scientific fact that for 99.8 percent of our time as humans the many modern foods were not an option. The Paleolithic diet we evolved eating was based solely on whole foods in their natural state. There was no agriculture or food refining and processing. Consequently, many modern staple commodities including rice, soybeans, other beans and lentils, wheat, sugar, milk, cheese, butter, oats, vegetable oils, beer, wine, peanuts, and even orange juice were simply unavailable. Early humans may have occasionally gathered the wild precursors of modern grains, legumes, tubers and fruits, but they did not systematically raise them in the form we would recognize now.

• The major difference between “then” and “now” is that we can easily select a handful of commodities to base our diets on and make few changes, even over a lifetime. Hence, many of us now choose a diet in which 70 percent or more of calories come from sugar and refined grains. In the opinions of my colleagues, Dr. Loran Cordain and Dr. S. Boyd Eaton, and in my own opinion, straying this far afield from the diet humans evolved eating plays a pivotal role in our current increases in obesity, diabetes and asthma.



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