The problems of far-off Afghanistan may often seem far removed from the scenic valley we call home. In the past few weeks however, the Northshire has seen two remarkable presentations hosted by the Green Mountain Academy for Lifelong Learning about that troubled land. Coincidentally or not, they came at the same time as a major Presidential address on a revamped U.S. policy in that region plus the deployment of some of our local National Guard troops. Taken together, they have made the problems of an isolated nation few of us thought much about 10 years or so ago suddenly seem more relevant.
The recent presentations by area residents Derek Boothby and Peter Galbraith were first-class analyses of the complex problems presented by the cluster of ethnic groups and political divisions in Afghanistan, and maybe even more pointedly and worryingly, by Pakistan, a much more populous nation with a nuclear-armed military. The nightmare scenario of course, is having that nuclear material falling into the wrong hands.
It’s remarkable that here, far from a major university where lectures and discussions of the depth both Boothby and Galbraith offered – and reached differing conclusions about – were readily available. For that we owe the Green Mountain Academy for Lifelong Learning, which has now developed a long track record of hosting truly informative speakers and discussions, a debt of gratitude.
Meanwhile, our hopes and prayers, it goes without saying, go with the men and women of the Vermont National Guard who are in the process of deploying to Afghanistan, and we look forward to their safe return – everyone of them – one year from now. That will be a great Christmas present for 2010.
(Manchester Journal Editorial, 12/18/2009 edition)