People may starve, but there's no way to back off from Afghanistan

Article published on Aug. 4, 2009
community published
Article published on Aug. 4, 2009
Two seemingly unrelated headlines: 1) Red Cross in Kuršėnai, Northern Lithuania, reports that more and more people line up to get free crops, sugar and canned food, which they have a right to if their per capita family income does not exceed LTL 525 (EUR 152); 2) in her letter to the new NATO chief, the Lithuanian president declared that Lithuania will continue its mission in Afghanistan
regardless of the difficult economic situation.

I think the coincidence speaks for itself. Lithuania may save on public sector salaries. It may save on unemployment benefits. It will save on what they call 'optimisation' of institutions, which means firing many people and employing the 'right' cadres to be in charge of the reform. It may save on schools and libraries. But it will never save on military.

The mission in Afghanistan is a joke. A poor country rebuilding the poorest economic province of all? People in Ghur clearly see that Italians, etc in other provinces invest money, build roads and schools at least, but Lithuanians do not. What has been done for the good of the people in this disadvantaged area in Afghanistan? Some miserable exchange of children's drawings! The entire province in devastated Afghanistan is a victim of Lithuania's ambition to be a regional leader (my friend wrote a thesis on that). I would keep my mouth shut if it was a peace-keeping mission, but this goes under the label of 'rebuilding' an entire province. Of course, you can remember the Bible and speak about a coin given by a poor widow as an offering, which is much more valuable than the same amount of money given by a rich man nearby. But this is not about charity and assistance - this is about ambition and false responsibility, which the country assumed without ever thinking whether it can really do what it has to. It was the same with offering to accept some Guantanamo inmates, which I've already written about. Now the number was thinned down to one, and the president is making some empty statements that there has to be an investigation whether these people don't pose any threat to the security of Lithuanian people. She forgot that those whose guilt or 'threat' could be proved are already sentenced, but that's another topic.

Anyway, it's a shame that a poor country is trying to be what it is not. Meanwhile, poverty is growing as many people are not getting their salaries on time, unemployment is rising and there's nowhere left to emigrate. So Lithuania is not 'upgrading' Ghur - it's downgrading itself towards its levels.