09 April 2013

Questions Raised About Aid in Afghanistan Following FSO Death

American foreign service officer Anne Smedinghoff longed for the opportunity to work directly with Afghans, to win hearts and minds.

The 25 year-old was given such an opportunity when she joined the governor of Zabul Province in the innaguration of a new school in the capital city of Qalat. That trip was interrupted by a suicide car bomb that struck the convoy killing a civillian, three soldiers, four Americans and Smedinghoff.

“She particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with the Afghan people and was always looking for opportunities to reach out and help to make a difference in the lives of those living in a country ravaged by war,” said her parents in remembering her daughter.

The death caused by a roadside bomb was lamented as a tragic end of a promising young career. Some say her murder by militants while delivering books is more than tragic.

The book delivery is evidence of the U.S. government’s naive and failed aid approach in Afghanistan, they argue.

Political officials commemorated Smedinghoff citing her dedication to foreign service. Secretary of State Kerry called her, “A selfless, idealistic young woman.”

“Only 25 years old, this brave young woman knew social justice was her calling, and selflessly lost her life while serving others in a war-torn country. She was devoted to protecting America and improving the lives of others,” said her home state of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.The praise centered around Smedinghoff’s willingness to volunteer for such a tough assignment and her desire to improve the lives of Afghans, as evidenced through her participation in the book distribution.

“A brave American was determined to brighten the light of learning through books written in the native tongue of students that she had never met, but whom she felt compelled to help,” said Secretary Kerry.

Amidst the memoralizing of Smedinghoff have emerged questions about the role of the United States in Afghanistan. Particularly, there are some who are concerned with the fact that the United States continues to participate in book drops at all.

“While Smedinghoff’s death is tragic, what’s more tragic is why she was in Qalat at all. She died on a mission meant to prop up the American people in the eyes of a country that doesn’t want us here anymore,” wrote blogger Gary Owen, an anonymous development worker based in Afghanistan.