Review: Making Friends Among the Taliban

6 Star Special, Civil Affairs, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Diplomacy, Humanitarian Assistance, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Religion & Politics of Religion, Stabilization & Reconstruction, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution
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Jonathan P. Larson

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star Eye Opener, Should be Mandatory Reading for War Colleges, Diplomats, and White SOF,November 9, 2012

I received this book as a gift. It is a bracing book and although short, at 130 pages, it merits slow and deliberate consideration. I got goose-bumps at multiple points and put the book down reflecting on how sad it is that our foreign policy and our military occupations are not better informed about the information peacekeeping (a term I coined in the 1990’s) possibilities of low-cost humans who speak the language and understand the nuances of conflict at the individual level.

This book is in every possible way, the absolute counterpart, contrast, and nay-sayer to the CIA-managed drone program that kills indiscriminately, at great expense, from which we will reap a continuing harvest of hatred, fear, and enduring mistrust.

Although I have read other books, and list them with Amazon links below, that offer similar insights, this is a first-person story with specifics that I consider so provocative and so valuable that I recommend it as assigned reading for every Special Operations A Team member, for every Special Operations schoolhouse, for every War College where we fail to teach White SOF as an alternative, and for every diplomat and international development employee, both at entry level and mid-career. I would go so far as to suggest that a week could usefully be spent by every conference group and foreign affairs class, on this book and the others listed below.

For the cost of one drone we could field a thousand Dan Terry’s, each fluent in the language, culture, and history that our spies, diplomats, and civil affairs personnel simply do not understand because they have not been armed with the tools of peace.

This book is a primary reference, a rendering of tales told by Afghans about one of the most remarkable individuals ever to visit Afghanistan from afar, a man the Taliban themselves questioned as being more Muslim than the Muslims (which being a practicing Christian missionary), a man able to “pick a cultural lock” like no other. Broken down into seven chapters (please use the Amazon-provided Look Inside feature by clicking on the book cover above), this book renders in life-affirming detail the possibilities that are created when an unarmed individual gifted in the art of non-confrontational conversation is kidnapped, regularly confronted by armed men, surrounded by deeply suspicious elders, accosted by an armed youth starved for an embrace of understanding, the list is long. As with the first book I lsit below, his individual spirit and posture are greater than any armed hoard, setting the gold standard for waging peace one mand, mone mind, one conversation at a time.

I am rating this book a six star special because it has earned that rating, and if there were one single book I would ask every national security professional in the US Government to buy and read for themselves, assuming the National Defense University, the War Colleges, and the Foreign Service Institute might not, this is that book. It is particularly relevant to how we are not engaging Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.

See Also:

Surrender to Kindness: One Man’s Epic Journey for Love and Peace

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time

Faith- Based Diplomacy Trumping Realpolitik
Religion, The Missing Dimension of Statecraft
Religion, Terror, and Error: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Challenge of Spiritual Engagement (Praeger Security International)

and

Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict
The Hunter, The Hammer, and Heaven: Journeys to Three Worlds Gone Mad

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