Soob

Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Sunday, February 15, 2009

US Citizenship in Return for Service

Yeah, I know, it sounds a bit Roman and not in a good way. It isn't though. We won't be drafting Afghan's in Kabul and sending them stateside two years later as citizens.

Immigrants who are permanent residents, with documents commonly known as green cards, have long been eligible to enlist. But the new effort, for the first time since the Vietnam War, will open the armed forces to temporary immigrants if they have lived in the United States for a minimum of two years, according to military officials familiar with the plan.
It's an interesting program and I don't have a problem with it, really. But what sort of Afghan immigrants have come and remain here in the US? Probably those of the professional class (doctors, engineers, teachers, etc.) who fled here as Afganistan became intolerable under the communists in the 1980's and then under the Taliban in the '90's.
Shouldn't we be encouraging this professional class to return to Afghanistan? A resurgence of the middle class in Afghanistan's larger cities could bring some economic stability and restore infrastructure.

4 comments:

phil said...

I think it's a great idea. Most native-born Americans can't be bothered to serve in the military and so I don't see any problem with rewarding immigrants with citizenship in return for military service. If they are willing to make the commitment then they deserve the benefits of citizenship.

Jay@Soob said...

phil
As I said I don't have a problem with the program, either. I'm looking at it in a theater oriented measure. Presumably recruitment would concentrate on ex-pats from the two country's we're fighting in.

phil said...

Yeah, I know. I was just adding my "hurrah". This is something that we should have been doing a long time ago. I think we can do both: for example offer Afghan "doctors, engineers, teachers, etc." citizenship for their service and encourage them to return to Afghanistan to help with development.

Dan tdaxp said...

Shouldn't we be encouraging this professional class to return to Afghanistan? A resurgence of the middle class in Afghanistan's larger cities could bring some economic stability and restore infrastructure.

A similar argument has been popular among the anti-immigrant left since the 1970s.

The short answer is no.

The marginal utility of a person in an economy is roughly analogous to the amount of income he can earn in that economy. So the marginal utility of a nurse, say, in the United States is between 2 and 3 orders of magnitude of a nurse in Afghanistan.

At the same time, the marginal utility of cash is roughly analogous to the number of man-hours it can buy in an economy. So the marginal utility of $1000, say, in Afghanistan is between 2 and 3 orders of magnitude what it is in the United States.

Immigrants, of course, do not cut off their families and kinship networks when they move on to better prospects. Indeed, remittances are among the largest categorical sources of capital for countries like Mexico and the Philipines. Citizens of poor countries who move to rich countries are able to fund family- and clan- based businesses, invest in local improvements, all with a degree of responsibility that even the best NGOs cannot match.

We're not helped by professionals serving as targets in Afghanistan. We are helped immensely by the on-the-ground expertise than their kin can serve, as Afghans in America serve as sources of capital and western savy.

Encouraging doctors, engineers, teachers, etc. to return to Afghanistan is counter-production, harmful to both countries, and an outcome to be avoided.

I mentioned this program earlier [1], I believe.

[1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/12/05/more-military-positions-open-to-visa-holders.html