Embracing the Occupiers: Conversations with the Future Leaders of Afghanistan and Iraq

Embracing the Occupiers: Conversations with the Future Leaders of Afghanistan and Iraq

Embracing the Occupiers: Conversations with the Future Leaders of Afghanistan and Iraq

Embracing the Occupiers: Conversations with the Future Leaders of Afghanistan and Iraq

Synopsis

This is the first book to examine how Fulbright scholars-individuals almost certain to be movers and shakers in their own countries, if they weren't already before coming to America-from Iraq and Afghanistan view the U.S. interventions in their countries, the war on terror, the status of Islam, and other pressing issues of our day. As the author explains, understanding the mindset of Afghanis and Iraqis willing to live and study in the occupying power is crucial to the conduct of America's "war on terror" and America's role in the post-President Bush world. In this work Block looks in-depth at a large representative sample of the Iraqi and Afghani Fulbright scholars in the United States, providing information about their former lives in their home countries, their opposition to dictatorial (Taliban and Saddam's) rule, their accounts of how they wound up coming to America, their opinions about America (both positive and negative), their views of jihadism and of the proper place for Islam in the political processes of their respective countries, and their expectations about what might await them when they return to their own countries. As such, it will be an invaluable resource as the United States continues to rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq.

Excerpt

What else is there left to discuss in this post-9/11 world? We have heard time and time again from what seems like every facet of information flowing through the airwaves: Politicians, military commanders, scholars, analysts, you name it. Countless books, articles, and papers have been written, speeches have been made, pacts have been concocted, wars have been fought, embassies have been blown up, prisoners have been captured, dictators have been hanged, and here we are—right at this moment. There can’t really be anything left to discuss. Or is there?

Almost right away I knew I had a story to tell, but its great importance hadn’t hit me quite yet. In April 2005, I began working as a Program Officer at the Institute of International Education (IIE), managing the Foreign Fulbright program for Afghanistan and working closely with Iraq under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State.

In 1946, Senator William J. Fulbright had the grand idea that avoiding the previous horrors of two world wars could only steadily come through creating a system of cross-cultural exchange that enabled, “the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries” he remarked at its founding ceremony. In other words, maybe countries and leaders might not be so mean to each other if they could only spend some time in each other’s turf—going to school, interacting, all the while trying . . .

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