Saturday, April 2, 2011

"Waging Peace"

There was an interesting piece on PRI a couple of days ago. Telling a story of a former Marine-turned humanitarian, I think it is a great example of the public diplomacy work that development assistance (government, but also private) can do, as well as an example of what the human intelligence and military programs, such as the "Human Terrain System", cannot achieve.

After living in the Kibera slum in Kenya, Rye Barcott joined the human intelligence unit in the Marine corps. He later wrote a book about his experience. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

"I thought that I’d be particularly well prepared for that and to lead marines into that because of my experience in Kibera. But what I found was that it was just really difficult. I was too busy scouring the waistlines of young kids for concealed weapons to even imagine kicking a soccer ball with them. And so what I left with was a really profound sense of both the strengths as well as the very large limitations to the use of military force. It’s very difficult to build trust when you’re covered in body armor and carrying a weapon. And in the end we’re not very good at preventing violence even though that is so much more cost effective in terms of life and dollars. And I think that’s a really important point. There’s an inextricable link between development and our global security."

Image courtesy of

Good point. Trust and credibility are indispensable for effective, meaningful, and two-way communication; while no weapon can inspire trust.

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