In response to the recent editorial on U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, I feel strongly moved to endorse University of Washington law professor emeritus Jon Eddy’s view that substantial latitude exists in balancing our country’s support for Afghanistan’s struggle for democracy [“Afghanistan revelations demand change, war’s end,” Opinion, Dec. 15].
As in most crises, education is an option frequently ignored or underfunded in combating insurgency. As Eddy is fond of reminding us, the UW’s Legal Education Support Program — Afghanistan has succeeded on an annual budget equivalent to the cost of one cruise missile. Sadly, the program has had to end due to lack of support from an increasingly misguided and isolationist U.S. administration.
Since 2004, Eddy and his highly dedicated and professional staff have produced an expanding legal educational network of teachers and scholars who will provide an ethical and informed Afghan leadership in the years to come. These men and women will create a new Afghanistan if we do not now abandon them. They will, in turn, educate the postwar legal minds of their country. If we can judge by the accomplishments of recent Afghan Ph.D.s from the program, the country will be in good hands.
My colleagues and I at the UW International and English Language Programs have provided language support for the Legal Education Support Program since 2006. The Afghan scholars have struggled and excelled in our demanding language courses, going on to survive staggering course loads at the UW School of Law.
By incorporating these scholars into our international English courses, we have made our contribution to stabilizing a war-torn country, thereby drawing closer to the goal of bringing our own daughters and sons in the U.S. military back home safely.
Our Afghan students have been outstanding in their efforts and achievements here and upon returning home. Our former students have assumed the academic leadership roles at a number of the international law and Sharia faculties of Afghanistan’s universities. They direct and provide guidance for NGOs that continue to serve the Afghan people in every province under control of the Afghan government. They publish scholarly articles in respected legal journals in Europe and North America. They raise their families in an atmosphere of internationalism and rule of law.
Our Afghan colleagues and friends are the true heroes of this story — those who advised and protected our unarmed journeys to Afghanistan to teach and support Afghan scholars, those who welcomed us into the relative safety of their homes, those who left their families in a war zone to come to Seattle to learn international law and relations, and those who have been forced to immigrate with their families to the U.S. under personal threat at the hands of terrorists. Their risks and sacrifices on behalf of their children’s future should be a model for all of us.
For our part, we teachers have learned hospitality, dedication and the essence of Afghan culture from our colleagues from Kabul, Herat, Kandahar and many other cities from every corner of Afghanistan. Our awareness of the Afghan-American community, long-established and successful in Seattle and elsewhere, has expanded dramatically. Khaled Hosseini, celebrated Afghan-American author of “The Kite Runner” and other novels about the Afghan diaspora, has graciously shared tea with us. This is to say that our two countries have forged ties, not just in blood, but in friendship.
The lesson learned from Legal Education Support Program is that an attitude of cooperation and engagement based on mutual understanding works. Abandonment and isolationism, whether of Afghans, Kurds or the Vietnamese, only prolongs the agony of war.