An Education

Taking Afghan Advice From an Author

If only Greg Mortenson also advised him to keep his mouth shut: Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the former head of America's war effort in Afghanistan, had found a trusted source of advice and guidance not in think-tank strategists or a preacher, but in the author of Three Cups of Tea. Mortenson—who doesn't believe there is a military solution in Afghanistan—had elucidated the complex on-the-ground realities of Afghan life for McChrystal and other military officials. Nine hours before President Obama fired McChrystal from his post, McChrystal sent Mortenson an email that read: "Will move through this and if I’m not involved in the years ahead, will take tremendous comfort in knowing people like you are helping Afghans build a future." In the past year alone, McChrystal has met with Mortenson—who has built over 130 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and believes that the education of girls is the key to Afghanistan's future—over three dozen times. Mortenson says he "never, ever expected" to have such an influence on high-ranking military officials.