By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer
Let’s say you’re in $100,000 debt. Would you care about trying to finance a BMW? Would you care about keeping up with the Jones’? No. You’re fighting to put food on the table, not worrying about a sexy car or the size of your house.
This same principle applies to numerous Taliban foot soldiers. Many Taliban insurgent foot soldiers are mercenaries of sorts — hired guns — struggling to put food on the table, not worrying about ideological issues. (Although, Taliban’s version of a carrot at the end of a stick looks more like a M16A1 death-gun copped off the US during the Soviet-Afghan war in the 80s.)
Last Thursday, Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, alongside Britain’s prime minister, Gordon Brown and Afghan president, Hamid Karzai decided to replace M16A1s with jobs — a jaw-dropping $500 million worth — so Taliban foot soldiers can put food on the table without the Taliban’s help.
Historically, the US has waged ideological wars, such as the Vietnam and Korea and been relatively unsuccessful. Telling the Afghanistan people, just like we did with the “commies,” that America has greater values isn’t relevant (remember: “This is a crusade…”). We must first solve basic needs, then deal with the ideology if we’re going to make progress. While allocating $500 million to Taliban foot soldiers is going to be unpopular, it’s logical.
Maslow and the Bare Necessities
If we take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there is a clear strategy for winning over the hearts and minds of US enemies. All brands, whether it’s America or Apple must first solve a problem. Apple solves the problem of connectivity through computers, right? For America, it must solve physiological needs of the Afghan foot soldiers, such as hunger and thirst, then work up to safety and security.
After meeting physiological and safety needs, an emotional connection can be formed between brand and consumer, or a government and citizens. Sense of belonging, recognition, status and finally morality follow. Only at this point can America begin to shape ideological perceptions and create sustainable, social, political and cultural change in Afghanistan. While unpopular among conservative circles, creating jobs in Afghanistan is logical for the same reason a person with $100,000 debt doesn’t go shopping for a BMW. First, meet the bare necessities, then talk about change.
Image by Remigiusz Szczerbak from Stock.Xchng