succumbing to peer pressure

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Books Completed: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Relin. Go read this book.

One of the reasons I was smitten from the beginning is because Relin's introduction concludes thusly:

Though he would never say so himself, he has single-handedly changed the lives of tens of thousands of children, and independently won more hearts and minds than all the official American propaganda flooding the region.
So this is a confession: Rather than simply reporting on his progress, I want to see Greg Mortenson succeed. I wish him success because he is fighting the war on terror the way I think it should be conducted. Slamming over the so-called Karakoram "Highway" in his old Land Cruiser, taking great personal risks to seed the region that gave birth to the Taliban with schools, Mortenson goes to war with the root causes of terror every time he offers a student a chance to receive a balanced education, rather than attend an extremist madrassa.
If we Americans are to learn from our mistakes, from the flailing, ineffective way we, as a nation, conducted the war on terror after the attacks of 9/11, and from the way we have failed to make our case to the great moderate mass of peace-loving people at the heart of the Muslim world, we need to listen to Greg Mortenson. I did, and it has beeen one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Later, describing Faisal Baig, Mortenson's friend and body guard:

It would take months and millions of dollars poured into the flailing serpentine arms of the U.S. Intelligence apparatus to untangle for certain what this illiterate man who lived in the last village at the end of a dirt road, without an Internet connection or even a phone, knew instinctively.
"Your problem in New York village comes from there," he said, snarling at the border. "From this Al Qaeda shetan," he said, spitting toward Afghanistan, "Osama."

And in reply to a congressman's question:
"I do it because I care about kids. Fighting terror is maybe seventh or eighth on my list of priorities. But working over there, I've learned a few things. I've learned that terror doesn't happen because some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren't being offered a bright enough future that they have reason to choose life over death."

And after a visit to the Pentagon:

"And I remember thinking I was in the army once, but this didn't have anything to do with the military I knew. This was a laptop army."


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