Bill Moyers always does excellent work. This year's interviews are no exception. Friday night he spoke with Thomas Frank (link here), and the interview was infuriating to me. "Down the memory hole" indeed.
Then, Bill had a wonderful and uplifting interview with Greg Mortenson (link here), author of Three Cups of Tea (which I have given as Christmas Gifts) and now, Stones Into Schools. the key take aways I got from the Mortenson interview that gave me hope:
1) Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff consults with Mortenson frequently
2) Gen.s Petraeus & McCrystal have read Mortenson's books, require all of their officers to read them too, and have both stated to Mortenson on more than one occasion "there is no military solution in Afghanistan" and "we cannot win here militarily". (There is some hope, if the current administration listens to them, as opposed to how W and Rumy dictated to them and handcuffed their generals, who were lead by the incompetent Franks) ...in acknowledgment of the Greek, Arab, Mongol, British, and Russian past failures over millennium.
3) Afghan village elders LOVE playgrounds and swing sets
4) In 5 areas 100% controlled by Taliban, with no US presence, girls high schools have been built in Afghanistan and are thriving - NOT being demolished or head masters executed.
5) at their schools, they not only teach how to read Arabic in the Qaran (and Dari, or Farsi, or Pashtun, depending on what part of the country they are in) but HOW to Interpret that which they read, so it is NOT just rote memorization and being told what each phrase is supposed to mean, but Opening Up the students' eyes (defeating Fundy Madrassa teachings).
5) Saudi Funding of Taliban has DROPPED in the last 2 years, resulting in Taliban banditry, kidnapping, and things that are odious to the local populace, turning tribal elders (Shuras) and entire villages against the Fundamentalist Sunni advocates of terror.
6) MOTHERS are shaming their sons into quitting the Taliban, after being indoctrinated into it, in Madrasses, as youths. When they get into their 20s, and are becoming common criminals, MOTHERS of these miscreants are convincing them to leave the Taliban and reform their lives (who would've thought it??). Mortenson said that at the schools his NGO has built, they PREFER to hire ex-Taliban as instructors, since ex-Taliban are the STRONGEST and most out-spoken opponents of wrongly interpreted Fundamentalist teachings.
7) Boys who are taught how to read don't teach anyone else, but they don't go off to become Taliban advocates. Girls who are taught to read teach their mothers, their sisters, their villages... and everyone they teach, is a potential powerful force against evil & fearful misinterpretations of the Qaran.
I hope Mortenson's "peaceful insurgency" campaign is successful. For a million dollars (the cost to keep 1 NATO soldier in theater in Afghanistan for a year) he can build and staff 4 high schools. That's pretty damn impressive.
Watching this interview on DVR last night gave me hope.
We shall see.... سنرى
1 year ago