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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/8/10

Thoughts on Killed Humanitarian Mission Members

These thoughts are a bit random, but I feel there's some pattern tying them together.

Obama and his generals are failing to understand that hard power is not what it used to be. Soft power-- the connection created by kindness and positive values-- that's what will win the battle for freedom and justice, for democracy and a peaceful future.

The Taliban killed ten humanitarian mission members. The Taliban are considered terrorists.
Israelis kill a dozen humanitarian mission members. They call the mission members terrorists.
The Taliban, by killing these humanitarian mission workers produce a massive defeat for the USA. Why? The battle in afghanistan is for hearts and minds. If the US can't get the support of the Afghan people, it's mission will fail... quickly. BY killing mission workers, the Taliban has effectively intimidated other mission workers and those people are the ones who had the greatest chance of winning the war for the US from the bottom up.
On the other hand, the Israeli murders of the Gaza flotilla humanitarian mission members has mobilized world support for Gaza and opposition to Israel's iron-fisted treatment of innocent civilians.
These are different places, different contexts, but it is ironic that similar events produce such different outcomes.
There's an article by Thomas Friedman in the NY Times,Steal This Movie,which discusses the movie, Precious Life. The film maker helped a Palestinian mother get an expensive, life saving surgery for her child. He got an Israeli whose son was killed during military service to come up with the $55,000 for the surgery.
The film maker stopped working on the film when the mother later declared, as Friedman reports,

The documentary takes a dramatic turn, though, when the infant's Palestinian mother, Raida, who is being disparaged by fellow Gazans for having her son treated in Israel, blurts out that she hopes he'll grow up to be a suicide bomber to help recover Jerusalem. Raida tells Eldar: "From the smallest infant, even smaller than Mohammed, to the oldest person, we will all sacrifice ourselves for the sake of Jerusalem. We feel we have the right to it. You're free to be angry, so be angry."

But then, the film maker saw some signs of hope, that there were people in Israel and in Gaza who were looking for peace. He went on to finish it. Friedman observes, "His raw film reflects the Middle East I know -- one full of amazing compassion, even among enemies, and breathtaking cruelty, even among neighbors."
I am sure that there are many Afghans, possibly a majority of them, who now bemoan the killing of medical aid workers. Tens of thousands of Israelis went to the streets to protest the killing of the people on the humanitarian flotilla. Things are not so simple. Times are rapidly changing. War is no longer something won with tanks and aircraft. Wars are now fought with blocks, youtube clips, news-making stories and they are about winning hearts and minds. Generals read Greg Mortenson'sThree Cups of Tea, a book about building schools for girls, about "peace through education."
"I've learned that terror doesn't happen because some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren't being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to choose life over death."
--Greg Mortenson(Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time)
We live in times where things are changing fast. Even the idea of military power has drastically changed. The USA-- Obama and his Generals--, Israel and its violent ultra-orthodox settlers-- they need to wake up to the reality that violence will not end violence. They need to understand that state sponsored killing has a tiny fraction of the effectiveness of bottom up political killings by locals. I should qualify that. When top down military killings occur, the damage they cause to the "hearts and minds" tactical efforts of the military is incalculably bad.
The killings of identified enemies may please military people. They may make war publicists who can report that the nth third in command in the Al Qaeda or Taliban has been killed. But they do little to move the goal of peace and peaceful relations forward. In the world of 2010, asymmetric warfare involves the use of media, the provision of resources like schools and medical care. It is tragic and leadership failure when presidents and premiers, generals and secretaries of defense fail to understand this essential idea.

Was the army guarding the humanitarian medical workers in Afghanistan? I doubt it.
A NATO general calls the taliban action deranged. I'd say, that as a tactical move to weaken the American efforts to gain "hearts and minds" grounds, it was brilliant, setting back the soft power of medical aid that the US has found to be so effective, compared to "hard" military power.
"I'm no military expert, and these figures might not be exactly right. But as best as I can tell, we've launched 114 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Afghanistan so far. Now take the cost of one of those missiles tipped with a Raytheon guidance system, which I think is about $840,000. For that much money, you could build dozens of schools that could provide tens of thousands of students with a balanced nonextremist education over the course of a generation. Which do you think will make us more secure?" (295)"
--Greg Mortenson(Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time)
The world has shifted from an early twentieth century time of manufacturing to a late twentieth century time of information to, just recently, a twenty-first century time of connection. The sooner Obama and NATO and their generals get this idea-- that we are all connected and the secret to success is making good connections that benefit all with fairness and justice happen-- the sooner hope will begin to bloom.
"You have to attack the source of your enemy's strength. In America's case, that's not Osama or Saddam or anyone else. The enemy is ignorance. The only way to defeat it is to build relationships with those people, to draw them into the modern world with education and business. Otherwise the fight will go on forever."
--Greg Mortenson(Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time)
Until then, killing humanitarian mission members will remain a part of the military toolkit-- with not easily foreseeable outcomes for the people who choose to use those grim options.
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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. 

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He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites,

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet (more...)

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