Tag Archives: Greg Mortenson

When Miss Daisy is not pushing more bloodshed on Syria she likes to drink tea down on the Malawi tobacco plantations

Hillary is just too much for me! Her efforts to promote herself off to the American public constantly as being the supposed grand international womens’ advocate while simultaneousy advocating FOR more and more Pentagon wars is just even sicker than swallowing any 3 cups of poisoned koolaid laced cyanide tea might ever be! Accepting her US government pr imagery at face value will poison your mind, no matter how much sugar is put in the cup! Isn’t that right, Greg Mortenson (infamous author of Three Cups of Tea)?

Pentagon Hillary is Greg Mortenson is Pentagon Hillary is who can really tell anymore here? They are both Pentagon’s drag queens, Greg and Hillary… Uggalug! … But does the American public have to force fed this display by Hillary almost every other day? Get me Mitt Romney on the phone, PLEASE! I’d do almost anything to keep form seeing anymore of the Hillary Show! It’s just too damn nauseating!

See Hillary in Malawi… Clinton meets Malawi's Banda.

And Malawi has a problem with witchcraft already. Malawi govt says witchcraft based violence a concern ….Yeah, well…. Then don’t bring Hillary into town if your trying to protect people from witchcraft violence, Malawi! Trust us about this, Malawi. Hillary Clinton is a bad witch!

Pennies For Peace, Stones For Schools, but Dollars For Greg Mortenson Fictions

Yeah, we miss NMT being the lone internet destination for criticism of the TCOT auto-hagiography of Greg Mortenson. Jon Krakauer’s expose validates our suspicions, although it fails to explore the likely role the CIA played lubricating the works. Yet even today Mortenson’s acolytes still defend his million little fictions as serving a good cause, and his non-school building expenditures as whims due their imperfect savior. So let’s be clear about Mortenson’s dishonest finances. With the Pennies For Peace raised by schoolchildren, Mortenson buys copies of his own books, at retail price, to boost their rankings, and to ensure his author royalties, which do not flow back to his charity CAI, while it pays the expenses to promote his books.

PPJPC drops justice & peace in favor of Judas kiss & Participatory militarism

You don’t care what our neighborhood Pikes Peak Justice & Peace Commission has gotten its leash tangled around –I shouldn’t– but the latest is just too funny. FIRST, in November they sponsored an Israel-BDS protest to boycott a local Ahava outlet and promptly got two participants arrested. Wrongly of course, but the police were awaiting them with a letter fashioned for the occasion by the City Attorney giving the CSPD authority to drive the activists from the private property. Although planning had been kept on the QT, do you think the reception might have been due to monthly confabs which the PPJPC executive director keeps with city law enforcement? Later in debriefing, the director pronounced his incredulity that the “new policy” hadn’t been spelled out to him at the last meeting. So what kinds of things do the PPJPC & CSPD discuss? SECOND, just as the PPJPC fell for the Save Darfur intervention-as-peacemaking faketivism, then zipped it for Obama’s false hopetivism, now the pitiful dupes call their Muslim-Jewish-Christian “Evening in Jerusalem” gathering a THREE CUPS OF TEA PARTY! Would this be in deference to Greg Mortenson‘s Western Empire [school] building enterprise? That puts the PPJPC in the company of the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, Mortenson’s biggest boosters. The next chance I get I will ask known J&P’ers I promise you — who are the Idiot Iscariots taking this tack? The PPJPC is soliciting donations from earnest yous and mes in the name of peace and justice, to advocate for forfeiting civil liberties and 3CoT’s participatory militarism.

On the AHAVA arrests, do we know who tipped off the cops? Not really, but we know the city’s actions didn’t spring from the media press releases which went out the day before. How much lead time do you figure is required to solicit a written policy from the city attorney’s office? Who had that kind of foresight?

The official word was that the “new policy” delineating which shopping centers might be major enough to be considered public spaces, and which were only average-sized neighborhood no-free-speech zones, was drafted to preempt populist petitioner Doug Bruce from assailing shoppers at will. But he prevailed against the trespassing charges pressed against him by Costco didn’t he. So that pretext doesn’t wash, and by no stretch of the law would a Costco parking lot be considered public.

There is already legal precedence for shopping centers not being considered the new town squares, and the state of Colorado has already put freedom-seekers aspiring to assemble in malls that they must abide by individual mall rules of conduct. At Chapel Hills mall is means, by permit, one at a time, no more than one day per quarter, no handouts, and a moratorium on all social causes over the holiday shopping period.

So a city-wide policy penned by their counsel giving explicit authority for police to remove activists from private property would seem redundant and by its intentional breadth, unconstitutional. But it gives cops-on-the-beat ground not to vacillate.

However CSPD learned about the J&P plans, wouldn’t it seem a crippling limitation to be meeting with the police on a regular basis to give them a heads up about any events that might concern them?

Keep in mind, the PPJPC executive director is avowedly protest-averse. He’s stated he doesn’t see the value to public demonstrations, and they certainly disrupt his ongoing strategy to ingratiate himself and his non-profit into the fabric of local conformist NGOs.

In the case of the Ahava boycott, though the protest was organized by a subcommittee of the PPJPC, toward the press the activists were told to identify themselves only as Middle East Peace Project. That was the PPJPC wouldn’t be tainted by any negativity which the action might draw. You’d think that choosing to distance yourself from motivated peace activists would be justification enough to pretend not knowing of their plans when the police are chatting you up for clues.

What good does it serve organizers if a parent organization is going to maintain plausible deniability but at the same time is helping law enforcement keep tabs on your plans.

There was nothing illegal about the plan to picket the Ahava store. There was nothing illegal about assembling on a shopping center parking lot which is open to the public. There is no need to alert the local police if the only result is that they will finagle a ruling by which you are prevented from exercising your constitutional guaranteed rights.

Greg Mortenson brings war to Pakistan

Three Cups of Tea, now Stones Into Schools author Greg Mortenson saw stones turned against Americans as the US suffered its first soldier casualties from an IED in the northwest boarder region of Pakistan. The US troops were training the paramilitary Frontier Corps, mercenaries hired to protect the all-girls schools built by Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute and USAID to which local Muslims and the Taliban take such umbrage. Oh, and lots of teenage girls were killed and injured too.

You thought Pakistan was already seeing plenty of casualties? Well except for a US contractor killed in a hotel bombing, all the deaths have been Pakistani civilians, killed by the score in daily air strikes by US drones.

Greg Mortenson US occupation pitchman

Red Rocks concertGreg Mortenson, stealth poster boy for the GWOT Pax Americana, nominated for the same Nobel suggested for Henry Kissinger, will be in Denver this Sunday at Red Rocks, to emcee JOURNEY OF HOPE, to collect “Pennies For Peace” to build Western Education settlements to justify more US military advance camps, and to lead a “Prayer For Peace.” Wanna bet it’s not an Islamic prayer?

Yuppie Feminist Brigade comes to life on behalf of US Imperialism in Afghanistan

hollywoodIt’s impossible to make this yuppie humanitarian interventionist lunacy up on our own, and since we at Not My Tribe have talked so much about Greg Mortenson and his Three Cups of Tea, why not take a quick look at Jay Leno’s wife’s new “cause celebre.” See: Jay and Mavis Leno turn serious about the plight of Afghan women.

Move over Darfur. Move over Tibet. There’s a new ‘In’ thing for yuppie America to focus its tears on. And the new team has on board CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, former National Organization for Women President Eleanor Smeal, knuckle chinned Jay Leno and wife, and wait!!! …where’s Madelyn Albright? It must just be a matter of time before she and the President’s wife come into the act, too! Whooppee! The Imperial Yuppie Feminist Brigade is now coming to life to save women in Afghanistan! Move over Greg Mortenson!

Humanitarian interventionism tied now to terrorist extermination by Pentagon drone! Isn’t this all so sweet? I know that the Muslim women of occupied Afghanistan must just be so happy about this ‘aid’.

Bombs away! Bombs away with NOW, Ms. Magazine, and the ‘Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission’ propaganda drops on dumb-founded America, too! Hollywood America appeals to Shopping Mall America to CARE!

Greg Mortenson encircles Swat Province, US drones launched from Baluchistan

Pakistan showing Swat encirclement by CAI and Shamsi Airport in Bandari Baluchistan
Not many maps show the location of the Pakistani airport from which US drones are launched against targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. To plot the Shamsi Airport in Baluchistan, I started with a graphic supplied by the Central Asian Institute (CAI) showing Greg Mortenson’s school building projects, which appear to encircle the Taliban resurgent Swat Province, where schools are a battleground.

Recognize the map above? It’s an updated diagram of CAI’s progress in northern Pakistan, making it all the more clear that school-building is taking point in our Western incursion in Southwest Asia.

Think-tank pundits are describing the Southwest Asian conflict as having become the Afghanistan and Pakistan War. With 17,000 more US troops moving in (who knows how many more contractor mercenaries), Europe pulling its NATO soldiers out, and Kyrgyzstan ousting our base, we might as well become more familiar with Pakistan.

dronesBy the way, the furor about our military use of the Shamsi Airport has more to do with where we are deploying the drones. The US was given permission by the Pakistani government to use several bases in Pakistan from which to direct our attacks on Afghanistan. The bases are in Karachi, Jacobabad, Pasni and Dalbadin. Shamsi is noteworthy because it is being used by the CIA, and because its drones are monitoring regions in Pakistan itself.

We need zoom out only a little from this map to see that the US actions here are part of an encirclement strategy against China, Russia, and to the West, Iran!

The encirclement of US rivals is apace

“Washington policy now encompasses a series of ‘democratic’ or soft coup projects which would strategically cut China off from access to the vital oil and gas reserves of the Caspian including Kazakhstan. The earlier Asian Great Silk Road trade routes went through Tashkent in Uzbekistan and Almaty in Kazakhstan for geographically obvious reasons, in a region surrounded by major mountain ranges. Geopolitical control of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan would enable control of any potential pipeline routes between China and Central Asia just as the encirclement of Russia controls pipeline and other ties between it and western Europe, China, India and the Mideast.” –William Engdahl

In this light does it become more clear why American intelligence interests support FREE TIBET efforts, and Greg Mortenson’s Central Asian Institute “western education” encirclement of China’s southern border!

Bruce Gagnon of Organizing Notes has assembled some notes on the growing conflict in South Ossetia, Georgia, and the implications it poses for a broader military engagement.

I’ll reprint Bruce’s article here:

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT GEORGIA-RUSSIA CONFLICT?

I must admit that I am not an expert on the Georgia-Russia conflict that is now underway. But I have been following issues there for some time and have learned to see some linkages between what is going on in places like Poland, Czech Republic, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, and the Georgia-Russia conflict.

So here are some random, and not so random, observations and quotes that I think might give us all something to ponder.

* It’s all about oil and natural gas. Russia has the world’s largest supply of natural gas and Iran has the world’s second largest supply. There is much oil and natural gas up in the Caspian Sea region. Which ever country controls this part of the world will have a jump start in controlling the keys to the world’s economic engine for the foreseeable future.

* The expanding economy of China has tremendous need for energy. China now imports much of its oil via sea (thru the Taiwan Straits) and the U.S. has in recent years doubled its naval presence in this region pursuing the ability to “choke off” China’s ability to import oil. China is looking for alternative, land routes, to transmit oil thus pipelines through Central Asia become crucial. U.S. permanent bases in Afghanistan and attempts to put military bases in other Central Asian countries is in large part an attempt to create the ability to control these pipeline routes. F. William Engdahl, author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, maintains that, “Washington is out to deny China east land access to either Russia, the Middle East or to the oil and gas fields of the Caspian Sea.”

Engdahl goes on to say,

“A close look at the map of Eurasia begins to suggest what is so vital for China and therefore for Washington’s future domination of Eurasia. The goal is not only strategic encirclement of Russia through a series of NATO bases ranging from Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo to Poland, to Georgia, possibly Ukraine and White Russia, which would enable NATO to control energy ties between Russia and the European Union.”

“Washington policy now encompasses a series of ‘democratic’ or soft coup projects which would strategically cut China off from access to the vital oil and gas reserves of the Caspian including Kazakhstan. The earlier Asian Great Silk Road trade routes went through Tashkent in Uzbekistan and Almaty in Kazakhstan for geographically obvious reasons, in a region surrounded by major mountain ranges. Geopolitical control of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan would enable control of any potential pipeline routes between China and Central Asia just as the encirclement of Russia controls pipeline and other ties between it and western Europe, China, India and the Mideast.”

* Some years ago I read the book called The Grand Chessboard by Zbigniew Brzezinski which I recently wrote about in relation to his being a chief foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama. Brzezinski has been critical of the Bush administration for invading Iraq essentially saying that it was the wrong war. Brzezinski has long maintained that Russia and China were the targets that had to be militarily contained if the U.S. hoped to continue its role as chief superpower of the world. He says, “Eurasia is the world’s axial super continent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world’s three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa. With Eurasia now serving as the decisive geopolitical chessboard, it no longer suffices to fashion one policy for Europe and another for Asia…..Eurasia accounts for 75% of the world’s population, 60% of its GNP, and 75% of its energy resources. Collectively, Eurasia’s potential power overshadows even America’s.”

* In 2005 the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline opened. It cost $3.6 billion and was funded by British Petroleum (BP) in a consortium including Unocal of the U.S. and Turkish Petroleum, and others. With the fall of the Soviet Union a scramble ensued for political and economic control of this part of the world. Georgia is on the pipeline route. Russia was opposed to this pipeline route. Brzezinski was a consultant to BP during the Bill Clinton era and urged Washington to back the project whose route would circumvent Russia.

Brzezinski also serves on the board of the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce that includes people like Tim Cejka (President of ExxonMobil Exploration); Henry Kissinger; James Baker III (who in 2003 went to Georgia to tell them President Shevardnadze that Washington wanted him to step down so U.S.-trained Mikhail Shaakashvili could replace him as president); Brent Scowcroft (former Bush I national security adviser); and Dick Cheney (who served on the board before becoming Bush II’s V-P).

The U.S. has long been involved in supporting “freedom movements” throughout this region that have been attempting to replace Russian influence with U.S. corporate control. The CIA, National Endowment for Democracy (board members include former neo-conservative congressman Vin Weber and General Wesley Clark), and Freedom House (includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, former CIA director James Woolsey, and Obama foreign policy adviser Anthony Lake) have been key funders and supporters of placing politicians in power throughout Central Asia that would play ball with “our side”.

* Now all of this hardball politics is to be expected. The U.S., Russia, and China all want control of this part of the world. OK, nothing new there. But the current Georgia-Russia conflict indicates that things are moving to a new dangerous stage of development. Very recently the U.S. and Georgia held military maneuvers in the now disputed territories. Russia countered with military maneuvers of its own. Russia is feeling threatened by expanding U.S. bases in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic. Added to that are NATO attempts to put bases in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia and possibly even Georgia – all along or very near Russia’s border.

* None of this is about the good guys verses the bad guys. It is power bloc politics and when the shooting starts it is civilians who die and their communities get destroyed. Big money is at stake and big money does not mind killing innocent people who stand in the way of “progress”. For the peace movement we must first understand some of the history, and also understand the “chess” game now underway. We must not have illusions that this is about “democracy” and must denounce the military and corporate agenda of the players involved. For us in the U.S. we must also remove our blinders and see that both parties (Republican and Democrat) share a bi-partisan history and agenda of advancing corporate interests in this part of the world. Obama’s advisers, just like McCain’s (one of his top advisers was recently a lobbyist for the current government in Georgia) are thick in this stew.

* In the end the peace movement must recognize that this current fighting could trigger protracted war and the only question becomes which weapons get used? Does the U.S. decide it must “come to the aid of it’s ally Georgia”? Is an attack on Iran somehow connected to this widening war for oil? Are nuclear weapons on the table? None of us has all the answers but it is imperative that we begin asking these hard questions and learn as quickly as possible as much as we can about the region.

* Lastly, need I remind anyone, that any protracted warfare in this region will be directed by space satellite technology. Space control and domination gives the U.S. the leg-up in any superpower struggle for control of oil and natural gas.

Spook Steve Recca wants us to feel safe

Commander Steve Recca, of the new DoD endowed UCCS Center for Homeland Security, told his Shove Chapel audience last night that Homeland Security is about being safe. That means everything to him from keeping his daughter safe at school to keeping the streets safe from excessive snow fall. Does the DHS want a crack at Climate Change?

Recca also explained that Homeland Security is about community. Yes, community: the local community and the global community. Whatever does he think “homeland” refers to? Manitou? Planet Earth? Before Bush and Ashcroft I’m pretty sure “Homeland” had only ever meant Nazi Germany, needing to be kept safe from Fascist-haters like socialists, anarchists, discontents and others who objected to Nazi land grabs. In the Soviet Bloc security would have been about community: the community of neighbors ready to rat on you.

Steve Recca kept Homeland Security affairs out of Greg Mortenson’s presentation until the end. Then, to cap off the questions from the audience, from the darkened anonymity of the public microphone, Recca asked for everyone’s patience while he read an “email from a Marine at an FOB (Forward Operating Base) in Afghanistan.”

In this “email” a soldier explained how protecting one of Mortenson’s schools was the most important goal of his mission, etc, etc.

The inattentive audience may have become too accustomed to visualizing boiler room letter writing sessions assigned to soldiers in the field, or soldiers laid up in VA hospitals with nothing else to do but hand-write form letters dictated to them by military PR specialists. Those Letters to the Editor sent to newspapers across the country, or emails to Dr Greg in this case, may be outsourced to India for all we know. In any case, the Colorado College audience was bored of it.

I’d like to see Recca explain what role propaganda or jingoism plays in Homeland Security.

Commander Steve Recca is a career spook, now pioneering the post-graduate studying of keeping white America safe. I can understand that DHS might require information sharing with the Intelligence Community. Does it have to be part of that community? Is that the “community” Recca was talking about?

Will Homeland Security be training its airport shoe-sniffers to conduct surveillance and torture too? Steve Recca doesn’t bring transportation or border guard experience to his job. His background is entirely about spying.

1983- graduate (with honors) of U.S. Naval Academy
1990- Master of Arts (with distinction) from Naval Postgraduate School
1990 to 1993- tours on USS YORKTOWN, USS TEXAS, USS AMERICA
1993- Staff, Commander Naval Forces Europe (CNE), in London
    Intelligence Watch Officer, Head of the Current Intelligence Branch.
1994- Certificate in International Political Affairs
    from University of Zurich
1995 to 1997- Special Assistant and Speechwriter
    for the Secretary of the Navy
1997 to 1998- Office of the Director of Central Intelligence,
    speech writer, member on Director’s Long-Term Planning Board
1998 to 2001-American Embassy in Oslo, Norway,
    as Assistant Naval Attaché,
    Joint Staff and Office of the Secretary of Defense
2001- Inman Intelligence Chair, Naval Postgraduate School,
    Senior Intelligence Officer and Intelligence Programs Coordinator
2003- Department of Defense Chief Liaison
    to the German Federal Intelligence Service.
2005- United States Northern Command’s Interagency Coordination
    Directorate, policy planning and technology consultant
2007- UCCS Center for Homeland Security

Here is Steve Recca quoted in the August 24, 2007 Colorado Springs Business Journal about a newly formed COLORADO HOMELAND DEFENSE ALLIANCE:

“The whole point behind the alliance is creating partnerships, networking — collaboration with government, military, university and corporations in the aerospace, defense and security industries.”

Sukey take it off again

Polly put the kettle onOne of the greatest blogging joys is giving a post a title. I favor arcane, abstruse or esoteric titles, mainly because it’s fun to take disparate notions and weave them together, if only in the tapestry of my mind. I think obscure titles draw potential readers into what might be easily-ignored prose by eliciting in them the type of curiosity that would lead them to utter something akin to “what the hell does that mean?”

I wrote a recent post called Not my three cups of tea wherein I questioned the motives of Greg Mortenson’s supporters. The hagiography surrounding Mortenson, who had managed to build a few schools and co-write an incredibly crappy book, Three Cups of Tea, smacked of neocon propaganda.

However, upon finishing the book, I decided that without a doubt Mortenson was the bravest, most caring and compassionate soul on earth and, if there were any nefarious motives to be found, they were definitely not his. I felt a need to set things straight so I wrote a clarification and entitled it Polly put the kettle on, which seemed an obvious choice to me.

Apparently it was not obvious to others (Eric).

Polly Put the Kettle On was a rhyme written in 1797 by a father of five children, two boys and three girls. The boys liked to play loud and rambunctious games, while the girls played more quietly. When the girls had had enough of their brothers’ obnoxious ways, they would pretend they were going to have a tea party, an event that the boys would likely be required to attend. “Polly put the kettle on” was threat enough to send the boys running outside leaving the girls to talk and play in peace.

My title was meant to convey that I no longer wish to hear any noise about Greg Mortenson being a tool for the government or being an interloper in doing-just-fine-without-him Pakistan. I will chase you noisy boys (Eric) out the door so I can admire the intrepid and visionary man in peace.

See, I told you it was obvious.

Promoting education and ignorance

Have I a verdict on Greg Mortenson now that I’ve had a chance to see him? He’s an incredibly likable guy, doing great good; to my values, doing fantastic work. But I’m a secular westerner, concerned about preserving the ideals of the enlightenment, and worried about the challenge posed by overpopulation. Are these the concerns of Islam? Do fundamentalist Muslims favor personal fulfillment of the individual and smaller families?

Greg Mortenson is advancing my agenda and I’d certainly like to think this will lead to prosperity and peace for everyone, but in the meantime I’m certain these actions are antagonistic to Muslims. I’d prefer we consult with Islamic leaders about prospects for peaceful coexistence, not peace engineered on curbing their numbers.

Perhaps Greg can champion the educating of Americans to tolerate other belief systems, some of which may not value literacy above family and religion.

Westerners subject themselves to schooling because it’s the cultural conditioning with which we equip ourselves for our complex post-agrarian world. Does everyone need it? Do Pakistani girls who are going to marry by age twelve need to be literate? Critical thinking and scientific understanding are values of ours. Getting married at a later age, and having fewer children, are values of ours.

If Islamic fundamentalists are rushing to indoctrinate adherents with the intention of recruiting Jihadists to attack western encroachment, you have to admit Mortenson’s conquest by education would be one of the causes. Mortenson’s methods are infinitely preferable to our military’s, but they are invasive all the same.

Central Institute AsiaThe disservice of Greg Mortenson’s lecture tour may be that he’s selling an over-simplified solution. Mortenson preached a message of hope not fear, hurrah, to an audience that really wants to hope. With Pennies for Peace, we can hope that kids’ pocket change will bring us closer to world peace. With the Central Asia Institute, we can hope to end-run our own government’s incurable ways. Is it true, do you think?

The white elephant in the room was so palpably invisible Dr. Greg may well have trained with David Copperfield. Not even lip service to it: Capitalism.

Mortenson’s idealism does not address globalization, the World Bank, debt, impoverishment by design, intentional destabilization, protracted war-making, etc. We the People may want world peace, we the people of the world could possibly come together through education, but will our industrial mechanisms allow it? Americans can’t even fraternize with Mexico!

The fantastic promise of Mortenson’s efforts would distract Americans from the more difficult challenge at hand, for which many of us perhaps are finding it harder to muster hope: arresting the destructiveness of our market forces, our government and its corporate oligarchy. Putting our hopes in schooling the children of Islam will be of little avail if our military-driven economies increase their plundering and exploitation all the while.

That’s who I think is behind the promotion of Three Cups of Tea. That’s why the Center of Homeland Security sponsored Mortenson’s visit. That’s why a self-defined hapless do-gooder is getting such traction. He’s selling a fix so easy it requires no introspection. Nothing to fix here, it’s the Muslim who needs learnin’.

Polly put the kettle on

Greg Mortenson in KhandayThere is nothing more thrilling than being the wild one on the outer edge of the pack, seeing the horizon more clearly than those safely ensconced in the middle of the herd. It isn’t easy being a lonely maverick, relying on animal instinct to find hidden dangers, while other more domesticated souls happily munch nuggets of truth dispensed by politicians and mainstream media. But someone has to lead the way.

I thought I’d found an opportunity to indulge my inner maverick. I had high hopes that the Three Cups of Tea avalanche was hiding lots of neocon propaganda, a pitiful campaign to convince those of us with bleeding hearts that, indeed, our government is engaged in noble warfare against terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the training ground for Islamic fundamentalists determined to wipe out Western culture. After all, who would know the terrorist’s heart better than Greg Mortenson who has spent much of the past fifteen years in remote Himalayan villages developing relationships with local leaders and gaining an understanding of these tribal cultures?

Well, I’m disappointed to admit that, after finishing the book, I am smack in the middle of the Mortenson love fest. Other than forgetfulness, disorganization and a chronic lack of punctuality, I can find no fault with this man (I feel like Pontius Pilate). After the 9/11 attacks, the book gets a whole lot better. The writing, literally painful to read in the first half, begins to flow in such a way that you are not constantly mindful of the fact that you are reading.

Political intrigue, physical danger, unflinching bravery, and an uncanny ability to discern the good guys from the bad guys–always in pursuit of his mission of educating the rural poor–does make Mortenson seem larger than life. So much so that co-author David Oliver Relin stops mentioning his physical stature in every paragraph.

The complexity of tribal societies makes for interesting reading. Puppet governments in big cities have no standing in remote mountain villages. Tribal councils and religious leaders in Iran interpret and enforce the law. Mortenson makes an interesting distinction between warlords who take tariffs from opium smugglers to create private militias and commandhan who plow the profits into the people’s welfare. One bad, the other good. He makes few moral judgments of the mountain people and their ways, poppy production included. He saves his scathing indictments for the US government and its minions, and seemingly refuses to cooperate or be used by them in any way.

I hope I can find a front row seat tonight and catch Mortenson’s eye. I want to give him the oft-sought-but-ever-elusive Mango wink of approval. Some maverick, she.

Not my three cups of tea

Attentive 
Pakistani CAI convertsI remember a time, not so long ago really, perhaps last month, when I was blissfully unaware of a wayward mountaineer named Greg Mortenson. After nearly reaching the summit of K2, and having lost his porter and his way on the descent, he limped, hungry and cold, into a tiny town in northeast Pakistan called Korphe. After several days spent recovering from his misadventure, Greg Mortenson stumbled from the village leader’s hut into the rarefied Himalayan air.

I am only halfway through the book Three Cups of Tea, One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time which attempts to tell of Mortenson’s journey through Pakistan and Afghanistan, and his quest to build schools for impoverished children. A brave and noble mission no doubt.

I must say, however, that the book is the most poorly written of any I’ve read since my Fabio days. I imagine Mortenson’s adventure was dangerous and thrilling, likely rivaling fellow climber Jon Krakauer’s Everest adventure. Krakauer’s tale was a positively riveting account of the experience, and Into Thin Air remains one of my all-time favorite adventure stories. Three Cups of Tea, on the other hand, well, sucks. I say this not to be unkind, but because I am wondering how on earth it ended up on the New York Times bestseller list.

Here is but a small sample of the creamy pablum co-author David Oliver Relin dishes out:

…Why couldn’t the flag of crescent and star lead these children such a small distance toward “progress and perfection”?

After the last note of the anthem had faded, the children sat in a neat circle and began copying their multiplication tables. Most scratched in the dirt with sticks they’d brought for that purpose. The more fortunate…had slate boards they wrote on with sticks dipped in a mixture of mud and water. “Can you imagine a fourth-grade class in America, alone, without a teacher, sitting there quietly and working on their lessons?” Mortenson asks. “I felt like my heart was being torn out. There was a fierceness in their desire to learn, despite how mightily everything was stacked against them….I knew I had to do something.”

That something became a big something, and Greg Mortenson will share his story at Shove Chapel on January 15.

In Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson, besides being of impressive stature, a point made on every page of the book, is portrayed as little more than a socially stunted somewhat incompetent drifter. So how did this guy, who couldn’t find a decent ghost writer, suddenly become a master of self-promotion? A book tour, magazine covers, even promotional materials sent home in my child’s school backpack. It’s pretty amazing.

I am, as I said, only halfway through the book but I’ve not read anything about Mortenson’s mission of peace. Korphe’s village leader confided to him that, although he ran his fingers reverently over its pages, he couldn’t actually read his treasured Koran, and did not wish the same terrible fate on his children. Mortenson’s mission appears one of education and literacy. I found a copy of the book with a previous title, Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations…One School at a Time. Vanquishing terrorism and nation building are the pet projects of neocons, aren’t they? I guess peace promotion is easier to market.

A final note. Greg Mortenson’s lecture at Shove Chapel is sponsored by the UCCS Center for Homeland Security. I really don’t get the connection. I feel like this guy is an unwitting pawn in some greater game. What that game is I don’t know. So I’ll finish the book, go to the lecture, and see if I can connect the dots.

Greg Mortenson’s own cup of tea

In his own words, Greg Mortenson is quite a bit more revealing about his motives in Pakistan. Pax Americana is definitely a subtlety lost on him.
 
Central Asian regions where CAI has financed constructionThis map is from the Central Asia Institute‘s own brochure. It shows the parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan where Greg Mortenson’s CAI has helped finance community building projects. I thought the shaded area formed an interesting buffer zone along the border to… CHINA! Is that region of greater interest peacewise than the war-torn borders facing Afghanistan or India?!

The current Independent features a cover story on Mortensen, to promote his Jan 15 Colorado College appearance. It turns out he’s as inarticulate as his dictation of Three Cups of Tea suggests. Here’s how Mortenson regards his unwitting Islamic accomplices:

…we bring in mullahs who support girls’ education. We have two ex-Taliban who are now teaching in our girls’ schools and have become some of our biggest proponents. It’s somewhat similar to an ex-smoker or an alcoholic who has changed and becomes very against smoking or drinking.

Here Mortenson describes how his schools convince Muslim communities to enroll their girls:

We even use good old-fashioned Western capitalism. We go and tell a mullah: If I want to marry a girl in your village, how many goats do I owe you? He might say five goats. If she has a fifth-grade education, how many goats would I then have to pay you? And the answer would probably be 15 to 20 goats. A goat is usually $30 to $40 each.

And then we tell the mullah: If all the girls are educated, just think of how much more wealth you’d have. Then you can see his eyes get bigger.

At least Mortenson is up front about the Capitalist invasion for which he plays scout. Evidently the untapped region’s girls are for sale, and once educated they’ll have value-added for mercantilism.

American society tends to glorify education for its own sake. What “education” is CAI providing to the Muslims exactly? Do CAI’s texts teach that secular culture is intent on the eradication of spiritual culture? Is the CAI curriculum simply favoring western indoctrination over an Islamist counterpart? I’ll let Mortenson show his hand:

perhaps the most controversial, is our Islamic studies for about two or three hours every week. It’s very tempered, and we include in that learning the differences between Sunni and Shia. We’ve also added what you might call religion studies, or learning about different faiths or religion.

In a monotheistic society you need that like emperor penguins need tap dancing lessons. Imagine the uproar if we tried to teach New Life Church kids that the faith of their parents was only one extreme of many! A good idea no doubt, but unlikely to provoke a peaceful reaction.

POSTSCRIPT
Our junior high student came home yesterday with three promotional pieces about Three Cups of Tea in advance of Mortenson making an appearance at her school. Do you wonder how he’s getting such press? One of the pamphlets instructs the children about how they can “Help Three Cups of Tea (3CT) surge:” (My emphasis, their slip of the forked tongue)

1. Recommend 3CT to at least one person or place: family, friend, colleague, book club, professor and teacher, student, and places of worship. It also makes a great gift! (You’ve got to be kidding me! 3CT practically screams you’re illiterate.)

2. Visit 3CT website…

3. Recommend 3CT for ‘One Book – One Read’ at www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook/one-book.html (please don’t).

4. Recommend 3CT as a University or college-wide… read www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/articles/070607/7summer.htm (YGTBFKM)

5. Ask bookstores without 3CT to stock the book, especially airport bookstores. (?)

6. Send 3CT with a personal note to your Senators and/or Representatives (US legislators, why?)

7. Write a ‘letter editor’ [sic] to suggest 3CT and to support education and literacy… to promote peace, economic development and prosperity. (Emphasis mine. Co-opting Muslim girls for Capitalism promotes peace how?)

8. Ask magazines, newspapers, or radio station [sic] to review 3CT (they suggest sending a copy)

9. Learn about the power of girls’ education… in What Works in Girls Education (by Neocon think tank author Barbara Hertz)

10. Learn about grassroots book promotion…

11. Suggest 3CT to Oprah: www.oprah.com/email/reach/email_showideas.jhtml

12. Suggest 3CT to C-Span 202-737-0580.

13. Write a book review on Amazon.com, bn.com… (No need, it’s getting slammed! Too bad my Junior High principle isn’t getting a clue. Are our teachers illiterate too?)

14. Start Pennies For Peace in your school, library, or place of worship… www.penniesforpeace.org

Billions for war, but apparently we need only pennies for peace.

Hopefully 3CT’s proceeds are going toward peace. (Marie reports their financials say it’s “up to 7%,” so hey, they do mean single-cent figures!) Perhaps Mortenson can earmark some of the Coins for Cultural Sensitivity.

POST-POSTSCRIPT
The Amazon reviews are uproarious! But 3CT trolls are loading the funniest with bad marks where it asks Do you find this review helpful, so you’ll have to look fast. I’ll reprint a couple below.

By the way, Three Cups of Tea, One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… was originally released as Three Cups of Tea, One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations. It wasn’t selling the mission?

I’ll work up my own slipcover for Mortenson’s speaking engagement, with help from the comments below. Hopefully he’ll be good-natured enough to sign it:
Three Cups of Tedium: One Man’s Mission to be a Dhimmi
-A Condescending Westerner who attempt to “educate” Muslims.

(This is part 2 of 3 pieces: a review of the 3CT book, the promotion around the book tour, and Mortenson’s public appearance.)

Stealing Muslim women from terrorists

What is Greg Mortenson teaching the children of Pakistan?I’m afraid my Neo Liberal roots are showing. Greg Mortenson is delivering a lecture at CC on January 15th and I hardly know how to object. I too believe that the fate of mankind depends on education.

However, where have I the right to hold such a belief system, mine, above others? You can call Islam a religion for uneducated poor people, and be mostly right, as indeed the same applies to all fundamentalist absolutists. But that is only to regard education in the liberal sense, with its belief that a secular utopia awaits man’s bettering himself through progress. Technology, medical advances, and the celebration of the individual lead mankind where exactly? To a healthier, more antiseptic life certainly, civil discourse often, but to chaos and nihilism so far, quickly.

Fundamentalist Luddite religious systems may not take man to the moon, but they do ensure spiritually grounded lives, full families, and the same for all foreseeable descendants. Which model is likely the more sustainable? If we posit that the greater percentage of mankind need such intellectual tethers, to whom do you entrust their guidance? Allah or Coca Cola?

The West may think it offers salvation to the women of Islam, but is it true? Are the middle class advocates of women’s rights prepared to take in their rescuees? A Muslim wife’s life is at the mercy of Muslim males, and we’ve been treated to horrific accounts. How do they compare to what capitalism has to offer? Those liberated from the Koran can look forward to the certainty of exploitation by globalization bosses be they man or woman, regulated by amoral corporations and corrupt officials, now without the comfort of leading lives of spiritual purpose.

Isn’t the jury still out on the West’s liberated women? They’re having fewer children, that’s for certain.

White knights like Mr. Mortenson offer a gift horse that indeed cannot deliver. Meanwhile of course our soldiers and free trade carpetbaggers quietly pile on inside. Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea has been requisitioned by the Defense Department and issued to our counter-insurgency forces, probably to teach the Hearts and Minds lingo, hopefully not worse.

Mortenson’s visit to Colorado Springs is being sponsored by a new department of UCCS, the Center for Homeland Security, I kid you not! It’s a major now offered by UCCS, established with funding from the Pentagon, staffed with retired military instructors, and chaired by career CIA officer Steve Recca. Look him up, his name is tied completely to CIA activities. As they say in the intelligence biz, he’s totally “mobbed up.”

The tag line to Mortenson’s book tour is to use education outreach as an alternative means to combat terrorism. While it is a refreshing change-up to our direct war making against terrorism, I can’t imagine behaving cavalierly toward Islam is going to endear us greatly. Osama didn’t want US feet on the ground in Saudi Arabia. Do Muslims in general want westerners building schools for their girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Could stealing their young women be seen as anything but a provocation for a terrorist response?