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Why can’t you be like US?

One of my mentors at the hospital where I used to work was a Vietnam War vet. He had been drafted into the Navy out of a small town in Maryland and thrown into some pretty interesting situations. We often talked about his experiences. There was always something to learn from that man. Sadly, he passed away not too long ago.

We once had a discussion on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and how the United States was doing “nation building” all wrong. From his perspective, the US should not have been requiring the Iraq and Afghanistan provisional governments to be “mini-Americas”. We in the States cringed at the thought of those governments setting up theocratic institutions within their new frameworks. But Ray was right in that just going in and telling them that they should have a full-blown federal (parliamentary) democracy was asking for too much at one time. After all, it took the United States several years of a confederacy before the whole thing was re-worked into what we have now. Even what we have now is subject to change as needed, and what we had before 1776 were 13 countries, some of which were very theocratic.

As you might now, we basically forced the leadership in those countries to model their political systems after ours: federal, democratic, with three branches of government. We spent millions of dollars (probably billions at this point) to conduct elections. We even dictated that they have a certain number of women and minorities in their legislatures (parliaments). In essence, we forced the natural process of a nation to be built to happen in a few years, in near-total chaos, while occupied by a foreign force.

Yeah, that should work.

The professor today played a video clip of Yo-Yo Ma, a master cellist. After the video clip, the professor brought out a music book with the score for the song that Yo-Yo Ma played and a cello, then he asked us to play the song that was just played. We all looked at each other. Although the tools were right there in front of us, none of us could have just picked up the book and the instrument and played a melody like he did. It takes a lot of practice and experience to play like that. The professor then picked up the book and pretended to give it to workers in Third World countries. “Why can’t you take the money and resources we give you and be like us?” he exclaimed.

Mind. Blown.


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René F. Najera, DrPH

I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
About Epidemiological: I am the sole contributor to Epidemiological, my personal blog to discuss all sorts of issues. It also has an About page you should check out.

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