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Fighting Extremism, Education Trumps Bombs

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It was at one of the many endless debates last summer that Barack Obama was asked about meeting with the leaders of foreign countries, including those dubbed the axis of evil by the current Bush administration. Obama barely paused before responding that he would consider sitting down, face-to-face, with the leaders of all nations.

The comment was deemed a mistake by many. Beginning with his Democratic counterpart, Hillary Clinton, Obama was roundly criticized. Republican nominee John McCain, calling the comment naive and reckless, has gone on to make the remark a cornerstone of his campaign.

Those who see Obama’s answer as naive and echo a continued hard-line sentiment would do well to review the story of Greg Mortenson, author of the book Three Cups of Tea. The former mountain climber is having a profound impact on both Afghanistan and Pakistan, doing so with an approach that demonstrates that things can be accomplished with tactics other than the hawkish, uncompromising method espoused by the Bush administration.

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