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

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5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star and Beyond–Deep Soul-Moving Raw Truths

August 26, 2010

Joseph David Osman

I had the privilege of reviewing this book before it was published. Below is what I provided for use in publicizing the book, followed by my more detailed summary review provided here for the first time.

I have goose-bumps as I contemplate this book that I have just finished in galley form. The author is unique, a mix of Philip Caputo (Rumor of War), Robert Young Pelton (Come Back Alive), and Ralph Peters (Wars of Blood and Faith), with one huge difference–this man, this author, this son of Afghanistan who is red, white, and blue American–has given us the definitive book on all that is wrong with the American “way of war,” at the same time that he so clearly, so explicitly, so very simply, outlines the alternative path of how we can, we must, “wage peace” in Afghanistan. I am reminded by this author of Bonheoffer, of Gandhi, of Nelson Mandela. This is a book in which the souls of two nations come together, both dark and light, and we see in very personal terms, with deep cultural intelligence, that Afghanistan is unconquerable by force, but desperately seeking to connect and respond to kindness. It shames me that our government is so inept–and our population so abjectly disconnected from reality–that we have repeated Viet-Nam. Bagram Air Base is the Binh Hoa Air Base of my time; we once again seek to win hearts and minds while looking and acting like Darth Vader; and our military prisons are again filled with individuals framed by their enemies, imprisoned by gullible naïve uninformed Americans who mean well, but who are simply not trained, equipped, nor organized to wage peace.

Robert David STEELE Vivas
Co-founder USMC Intelligence Center, #1 Amazon Reviewer for Non-Fiction, Author on Intelligence

Highlights for me personally as a former Marine (1976-1996) who lived in Viet-Nam as a pre-teen from 1963-1967:

1) The prose is gripping from page one. I am truly drawn in and engaged by the verbal poetry.

2) Similarities with Viet-Nam are daunting–from our massive over-investment in fixed based to our total ignorance on corruption and on being manipulated to falsely imprison or kill people being framed, this is déjà vu with a vengeance–we waste more on US contractors who build things that are NOT useful to the Afghan people themselves. The US is viewed as an occupying force, and US policies are NOT WORKING.

3) Afghanistan and Iraq are starkly different–the author points out that Iraq was flat and educated–90% literacy–Afghanistan is the opposite.

4) Multiple comparisons throughout the book really hit hard at our expensive over-weight military. Just two examples: 400 lbs of explosive destroys a 4 ton $1 million armored vehicle; a $5000 hand-held missile takes out a multi-million dollar aircraft.

5) This book represents the human factor in Afghanistan like no other I have seen, aided by the author's own roots in Afghanistan and his American upbringing–this book has more cultural intelligence in it than the entire Human Terrain Team (HTT) program pretends to know.

6) The entire book, but one section especially, is a superb–a devastatingly credible critique, of both “hotel warrior” journalists and “behind the wall” Embassy officials who never actually get out into the field or interact with real people.

7) I find the author's vision and message compelling–Afghanistan will never surrender to war, but it will surrender to kindness. The author moves me, impresses me, inspires me in pointing out that those that are the angriest in Afghanistan deserve, require, and must receive the most love and kindness.

Here are links to the three books I mention above:
A Rumor of War
Robert Young Pelton's The World's Most Dangerous Places: 5th Edition (Robert Young Pelton the World's Most Dangerous Places)
Wars of Blood and Faith: The Conflicts That Will Shape the Twenty-First Century

At Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog you can access all of my reviews sorted into 98 categories and also see my remixed lists that were updated for my own recent book, INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainaabilty.

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