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.

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 (please don’t).

4. Recommend 3CT as a University or college-wide… read (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:

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

13. Write a book review on,… (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…

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.

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.)

69 thoughts on “Greg Mortenson’s own cup of tea

  1. I’m making an addition to my above comment in response to:

    Comment from Lucas Walker (IP:
    Time: January 11, 2009, 10:45 pm

    1) I agree that there is a lot of misinformation because of the lack of sources provided to back up the claims made. Without sources, there is no credibility. The poster of this review should know this.

    Side Note: I currently attending class with a Pakistani woman from the Sindh province and another who may not be from Pakistan but is still from the Middle East who shows support as well. She has read the book and done her research.

    And to:

    Comment from Eric   (IP:
    Time: January 11, 2009, 11:56 pm

    1) If you call it research, where are the sources, as mentioned above?

    2) “It is also important to listen and learn from the local communities served, rather than impose external evaluations or judgment of what is best from an outsider’s perspective. The philosophy to empower the local people through their own initiative is at the heart of all CAI programs.”

    They’re not trying to impose western civilization values on them.

  2. This is not worship. This is justification. I do not worship anyone human but merely show my support by defending them when they are unjustly criticized. If you do not know the whole story, then you have nothing to say.

  3. “unjustly criticized”? The dude and his book are used as tools of the WARMONGERING BABYKILLERS. To prop up puppet regimes like Karzhai in Afghanistan and al Zardari in Pakistan.

    That’s why they gave him the Star of Pakistan Award.

    His work is given material, monetary and propaganda support by people who Murder Infants.

    That’s a red flag. A great big 5 meters by 3 meters red flag hoist on the highest flagpole available and set on fire.

    Rally round the Burning Red Flag, boys and girls. Seek out those who dare “criticize” the Most Holy Greg Mortensen, for if we cannot silence them we can at least bury their blasphemy with bullshit.

    Oh, and the organized nature of this steadfast “non worship” seeking out of Non-Fanatics is becoming more obvious, more blatant.

    Were you assigned to us by your Local GruppenFührer?

    We have been Alerted that Our Holy TCOT Book (All praise The Book!) has been slandered by an Infidel bookseller as being poorly written, we must marshall all our forces against the Unjust attack! We must either bring these Infidel into the Congregation of The Book, or… emm… errr… well, we can’t really DO anything else…

    Nope, nothing Cult-like or Messianic in your approach.

  4. Where are you getting your quotes from? I have never heard of it. I came across this review while preparing a speech about the Central Asia Institute and for a paper about illiteracy undermining the Afghan National Army’s training…

    How about you get to know those on the opposing side before you start bashing them as well. You don’t see me calling you a “worshiper” of anything do you? I am merely posting a response to what I see to be a lack of support to your claims while providing support for my claims. This is how you properly argue your point.

    I don’t believe in the actions of cults. I don’t believe Greg Mortenson is a saint/holy man or anything else you CLAIM I say he is. I just believe that he is an individual who deserves respect for his work. He has put his life on the line to help the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was held captive in Waziristan for a little over a week. He’s been caught in crossfires before. He helped deliver a baby in the village of Korphe. (for more detail, READ the book, not just skim first lines of paragraphs)

    If you would do your research and broaden your view of the situation…

  5. As for the “Warmongering Babykillers,” Greg Mortenson and the Institute avoid working with the US Government to avoid any false associations with its action. The Central Asia Institute is an NGO (Non-Government Organization). A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government and a term usually used by governments to refer to entities that have no government status.

  6. Look, the very first responses from anti-Freedom Pro-TCOT keyboard warriors were on the lines of “How DARE you write a critical essay that casts Our Book in a negative light? Don’t you know that OUR civilization is so very much better than theirs that WE deserve to tell them how they should live? You have no right!”

    Further such enlightened rebuttals to a bookseller doing what booksellers do, write critiques of the books they sell, involved nonsense concepts such as “Do you know, in Those Countries they kill women for adultery or even the suspicion of adultery and Their courts allow it?”

    The “christian” Crusader Worship Cult which is giving George yelloW. Bush a medal for being such a Crusader Hero point out that the most conquests done in the region over the past 4 centuries have been done by people carrying a Bible in their left breast pocket and a gun in their hands. Quite a lot of violent “enlightenment” of those Poor, Backward Natives.
    The ones who invented Algebra, and the decimal notation numerals 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 that both algebra and binary notion depend on, thus, without that knowledge your computer would not work. Yeah, THOSE poor benighted backward natives.

    There’s also been Christianity in the region since the first century, the oldest existing Christian congregation is the Church of St Thomas.

    As for their culture being “more violent” than ours, why not check out the Police Blotter sections of your local news outlet?

    American men kill their wives all the damn time for Adultery. Also their girlfriends, their boyfriends and so forth.
    And do you know, there’s not a single person on Death Row for any such murder? Killing your wife is somehow less of a crime, if they use the “Heat of Sudden Passion” defense the Husband/boyfriend can conceivably be charged with manslaughter and let out on probation. It happens far more often than the Racists who keep touting the “superiority’ of our White Anglo Saxon “christian” culture to the point that they use that alleged superiority to justify going over to other peoples countries, telling the people to bow before our Superiority and killing them if they don’t.

    Which the leading forces of that “crusader” movement employ your Prophet and High Priest Mortensen. More than just “apparently”.

    I mean, you can publish the notion all you wish that “Anna and the King meets Other Racist Assumptions of Cultural Superiority” all you want.

    It’s a bullshit assumption and I’ll call it a bullshit assumption. Your culture is NOT superior in any way. Eric will most likely use more sophisticated terms and usually, so do I. Imperialism based on racist ideas of cultural superiority just don’t impress me. When MY tax dollars are used to support that it quite frankly makes me angry.

    Oh, didn’t you think of that? You said you had read through all the posts. Donations to Mr Mortensen’s Holy Mission to Enlighten The Heathen and help to enable the military conquest of their nations are actually Tax Deductible.
    What a surprise! Other leaders of the “crusaders” know it well, they dodge taxes every bit as effectively as they dodge actually having to serve in the Conquering Army.

    See, people like Bush and Cheney and Karl Rove, lying cowardly Chickenshit Chickenhawk dog-molesters, they make a big show of “financially supporting” such missions as Mr Mortensens.

    Then make sure they get every penny of it back on their Income Tax returns. Really slick, eh?

    Same way they get the scions of the working class to take the burden of actual combat, they get other people to pay for it too and have it LOOK like they’re actually contributing anything more than their snouts in the publicly funded trough.

    That makes them liars. Blasphemers because part of what they say is that GOD commands them to conquer, kill and steal. Or rather, have other people do it for them. You expect me to accept as evidence one of THEIR Puppet Dictators giving Mr Mortensen a medal is condescending, in that you assume that I or any of our readers would be STUPID enough to take it as valid, without any question.

    Ain’t happening baby-cakes.

    And, despite the objection from earlier correspondents from your Cult of the Book, people DO have a right to say and write things like that.

  7. Dear Cassie,
    Thank you for writing. I’m not sure what argument needs explaining, you ask for documentation, yet you’ve chosen a post full of quotes directly from Mortenson’s mouth.

    But what timing you have. Today another US-built school was demolished, reminding us that school building is indeed on the front-line of our cultural assault on Islam. And this week Pakistan released a CIA contractor who’d murdered two locals, infuriating their people. Meanwhile the leaders of Pakistan continue to permit US drones to assassinate our suspected adversaries and whatever civilians are around them.

    And you brag that these leaders gave Greg Mortenson a medal?

    Cassie, they do not hate us for our freedom, they hate us because we are godless. Oh you may believe in God, but apparently he gives you license to kill in order to keep the world enslaved in debt.

    We are not trying to educate anybody, witness our own schools, we specifically don’t even educate ourselves. Americans are breeding dumb-asses, certainly ethically-vacuous automatons who won’t challenge the malevolence of our masters.

    We are building schools to propagate Western values to take down the only veritable hindrance to unbridled predatory capitalism, a people whose spiritual belief system is based on moral conduct.

  8. What I fail to see is why you are still targeting me as a person, saying that I ‘worship’ Greg Mortenson and ‘praise’ the actions of President Bush, who I have always been against since he became president. What you’re failing to see is what I’m constantly trying to point out. Yes, it is possible that an NGO accept funding from the government, but members of the government aren’t even allowed to be members of the organization and therefor have no emphasis on the actions of the organization. It’s just like you or I sending in a massive check, like Dr. Jean Hoerni did to fund the first to projects of the CAI. The organization is still non-governmental with no government status regardless of where the funding is coming from, whether or not the funding is tax deductable.

    I never said they hated us in the first place, though I’m sure they don’t necessarily like us all the time. I most certainly never claimed they hated us for our freedom, as you put it Eric. Please don’t put such thoughts into your head that say I believed any such way.

    Brother Jonas, We’re not on a superiority complex here. Mortenson and the CAI don’t instruct communities on how to live, they just provide the materials that will help the community grow, a well-balanced education as opposed to be educated in a madrassa, which essentially teaches (boys only) the fundamentals of war (jihad). And yes, you are entirely entitled to saying whatever you like. I’m not stopping you. I believe in freedom of speech. Don’t include me in the group of fanatics that say otherwise.

    I would like to do further discussion with you two but you seem to have a targeting issue. You’re accusing me of things that aren’t true. I never said things couldn’t be done. I never said Greg Mortenson was holy, because he’s not. I never did the things you accuse me of. If you can show me that we can have a civil discussion (ie please drop the swearing/name calling and accusations towards me as a poster) then I will post again to your response. But if you can’t keep a civil hand while typing then you won’t get much more out of me…

  9. Oh, Eric (not gonna bash), I just want to know what pages these quotes are from so I can go check out those parts of the book or just anywhere you got the quotes from because then I can see it for myself. It makes it easier to understand what you’re saying if I can see what you’ve seen that gave you that thought process. 🙂

  10. Excellent points Cassie, these quotes were direct from a Colorado Springs Independent interview which was cited, and from promotional handouts accompanying the 3CT book and Greg Mortenson’s appearances at a string of local schools.

  11. Excellent! Would you be able to provide me some links so I may see as well? Again, it will make it easier for me to see what you mean so I can try to relate to your post better.

  12. Uh, Cassie, the interview IS linked, and the 3CT checklist is reprinted verbatim, you’ll have to Google that.

  13. If it’s verbatim then you need to have the source readily available. 😉 I wonder if it would surprise you two if I told you my age, but I’ll let you guess first…

  14. Kudos Eric. You sniffed this charlatan out years before the guys at 60 Minutes got the goods on him. Maybe James Frey can sublet a room to him when his funds run dry.

  15. Brother Jonah: About your post at March 28, 2008, 9:58 pm – A lot of people had supported Mortenson. If Mortenson had expressed the same ideas about gender that Dobson had…

    BTW, Mortenson made a HUGE error in allowing a serious report to be made against him. He now had to admit that part of the book is embellished. There’s a huge lawsuit that is going to be filed against him

  16. There is a lot to be worked out, ferreted out, perhaps.
    What drew me into it was the basicly haughty hate-speech about Eric daring to write a critique of the book mostly focused on the author’s writing style.

    Cassandra, about Military Education in schools? I was taught Boy Scouts and ROTC in school, preparing me to be a Fanatic “christian” Holy Warrior. I see nothing inferior in other cultures preparing their children for what they accurately predicted, that the Crusaders would once more get on their religious High-Horse and go back to Afghanistan converting people by the sword. “Kneel and accept our version of Jesus or we slay you out of hand, Infidel!”

    Whether Mortensen deliberately pandered to the CIA crusaders or was merely played as an ignorant fool by them, the CIA most certainly do want to indoctrinate the Pakistani and Afghan children to accept being slaves of the Corporate Empire, and do have an agenda to impose their “superior” Warlord Culture on the “poor, benighted Savages”.

    Another case of “Down from the trees and onto your knees!”

    Which the only difference I can see, morally, between the fighting cultures of Afghanistan as described by the people Who Want To Subjugate Them And Will Say Anything To Make Them Look Bad and the fighting style I learned as part of both my schoolboy indoctrination and my training in the United States Military, is that the U.S. has more powerful weapons and more stolen money to spend to buy new ones.

    Some of the Really Retarded Right Wing here in Colorado Springs, who also by sheer coincidence lap up the tales of Lawerence of Pakistan (Mortensen) will call a suicide bomber a “coward” for giving his life fighting invaders in his own land, but call the ones who manipulate Drones to burn human beings into unrecognizable chunks of carbon or cut them into very ugly pieces with their high-tech machine guns and explosives, then the Drone operators or the USAF Bomber pilots who bomb from ten miles up in a country which doesn’t even have ANY Air Force, after landing or shutting down their computers, tired from a day of dropping bombs on children, go to the Officers Dining Hall and enjoy a steak dinner and congratulate themselves on how brave they were.

    And somehow the notion seeps in that they feel so smug and superior with the high-tech expensive weapons that the “targets” actually DESERVE to die because they happened to be born in an impoverished nation.

    Greg Mortensen might not knowingly endorse that crap, but he’s had years of dealing with the assholes who promote it and should, if he’s an intelligent person, should have figured it out long ago.

    If he has moral courage to match such intelligence he should be able to make a stand and tell the Bastards “NO! Hell to de fuck NO! I will not be your servant and your point man to help you target these Children of The Living God!”

    He’s still alive, has every morning a new chance to repent.

  17. The presumption is that the Taliban are the terrorists, not the countries which have invaded Afghanistan. The education needed to be imparted immediately after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan. The USA should have invested in rebuilding Afganistan. Helped in repatriating the Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The USA did none of that. The only objective was Revenge for Vietnam. So the situation with Afghanistan as far as the USA is concerned Fuck Fly and Forget. This writer is trying to do what should have been 25 years ago. Build schools in Afghanistan Become friendly with the Afghan not label them Taliban or Al-Kaida, or call them terrorists.

  18. There are those who, by their church dogma, consider Katherine the Great and Ivan the Terrible and all their close relatives saints simply by being born into their diseased family.

    Specifically the Russian Orthodox Church. Bad enough that none of them from first to last (Nicholas Romanoff II) were free from the bloodstains of the “bolshei” they owned, literally, and put their blood on their hands. Even the ones who killed their own family, their “fellow saints” according to the dogma, like Ivan the Terrible and Peter and Katherine the Greats, to attain that “sainthood”, are worshiped and prayers are offered not FOR their souls but TO their souls.

    Not saying that Mr Mortensen went that far, although there have been uncounted thousands of innocents killed in his Fiefdom and his actions MIGHT HAVE contributed to some of those deaths… but some of his supporters also, in the guise of condemning communism, support the White Russian claim to the throne.
    A claim based strictly on the dogma of Sainthood and Divinity of the Romanoff Clan.

    So yeah, the term Saint gets thrown around way too casually. Glenn Beck, one of the most rabid supporters of all things Right Wing and especially hatred of Afghan society, and people, belongs to a church in which ALL the members are called Saints.

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