What’s Going On?

Overshadowed by the consuming war theater in the Middle East, a quiet little drama is quietly playing in Africa that has captured very little attention or critical acclaim. Unquestionably, it’s a battlefield in the global war against terror; but this skirmish adroitly demonstrates how to intelligently confront the enemy.

“For only love can conquer hate.”

The Christian Science Monitor is among the few who have given any attention to this particular show. That’s where a colleague discovered the story, and passed it on to me.

The scene is East Africa, which has witnessed its share of terrorist attacks. In 1998, Al Qaeda bombed the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. From there, the group has also attempted to shoot down an Israeli airliner, and sink oil tankers and US Navy vessels in the Red Sea.

“We don’t need to escalate…”

In 2002, more than 1,500 U.S. troops were deployed to the area to root out followers of Al Qaeda. They found none. What to do? They launched a pre-emptive attack to stem the growth of Islamic militants among this largely Muslim population.

I’m not sure if someone noticed that the violence on the big stage was merely spawning more violence—or if, in the stillness of the East African countryside, they heard a small voice that whispered, “Terrorist recruitment flourishes when there’s discontent with living conditions, whether it’s in Djibouti, East Africa or Detroit.”

“We’ve got to find a way to bring some understanding here today…”

For whatever reason, the soldiers put down their guns and picked up construction tools. Since 2002, they have built more than 30 schools, 25 clinics, and a number of new wells and bridges in mostly Muslim areas.

“One place we went to, they considered the U.S. to be warmongers,” 96th Civil Affair Battalion sergeant Richard Crandall told the Christian Science Monitor. “We built a school; and when we left, they said they considered us friends.”

“…Don’t punish me with brutality”

How do you stop terrorism? I dunno. Acting as if you came from a country where most of its citizens claim to follow the Prince of Peace clearly seems to have some merit.

“We are trying to dry up the recruiting pool for Al Qaeda by showing people the way ahead. We are doing this one village, one person at a time,” Maj. Gen. Timothy Ghormley, commander of the joint task force based in Djibouti, reportedly said. “We’re waging peace just as hard as we can.”

What’s going on?

From where the Loud Mouth sits, it appears that the great Motown sage, Marvin Gaye, has ascended. Once a soloist with backup singers, he’s now a 1,500 voice choir. Go, Marvin! Go, Marvin!