When the violence, strife, and cold-blooded realpolitik world of international relations starts to get you down, take heart in this truth: no matter where you go— from Kansas City to Kabul— college kids will be angry, shouty, and dumb.
It's universal! Like love for a beautiful baby, or loathing of roaches. We say this in the context of today's Wall Street Journal story about Nangarhar University in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, a school built and funded with U.S. money. We would like to make two points about this story.
1. The story's furrowed-brow subtext of "It is disturbing that US taxpayers are funding this college in Afghanistan, and yet the students there do not seem to love America" is hilarious.
This rise of extremism among Afghan students—some of the biggest direct beneficiaries of U.S. assistance—underscores the lack of goodwill that more than a decade of American taxpayer money has bought here... gratitude is in short supply at Nangarhar University, even among ordinary students who aren't involved in student politics. "The Americans have done reconstruction, but they've insulted Afghan culture," said one of them, Sajjed Bahar, a literature student from Khost province. "They support our university, but in the meantime, they kill students."
Why are these young people who have grown up in a country that we invaded and bombed and controlled and thoroughly rampaged through so ungrateful for the portion of American tax money that flows into their country that is not spent on rocket launchers? It's a puzzler.
2. This is not to imply that Afghan college students are shining beacons of wisdom and maturity.
The student militancy sweeping Afghan campuses ahead of the U.S.-led coalition's withdrawal next year isn't limited to Nangarhar. In late May, hundreds of students rallied outside the Afghan capital's prestigious Kabul University to protest against legislation that criminalizes violence against women.
These kids would get along famously with college Republicans! We recommend some sort of exchange program, immediately. All in all, it is heartening to know that college kids everywhere tend to be strident, ill-informed political militants, who will look back on this all in mild dismay when they become dentists a decade or two down the road.
"Ugh, the whole violence-against-women-as-an-essential-part-of-Islam thing, so embarrassing. And remember when I grew dreads? What was I thinking?"