U. S. image in Pakistan
While Obama may still be generally beloved throughout much of the world, his escalation of the war in Pakistan has brought closer ties with the military, rather than with civil society, and the unmanned Predator drones continue to claim civilian casualties. Fatima Bhutto and Tariq Ali do an excellent job explaining the problematic approach of this administration to Pakistan. Here in the U.S., Nicholas Kristof gets in the spirit by recommending that we launch a major education initiative. Perhaps the U.S. should simply give the money it currently gives to the Pakistani military to The Citizens Foundation, Cultures in Harmony's partners for our project next month in Pakistan.
After reading these articles, I confess to feeling a bit like a fool. When our unmanned Predator drones kill Pakistani civilians and when our tax dollars support bombs instead of books, do I really think that four Americans giving concerts in three major cities will usher in a new era of friendship, peace, and cooperation? Do I believe that a few outreach concerts in schools will be enough to convince Pakistanis to buy T-shirts with Obama's image instead of burning him in effigy?
Of course not, but I am not out to establish lasting peace or sell T-shirts (although that might prove more lucrative than violin playing, depending on what the T-shirt depicted). The four of us go to Pakistan to ignite within the hearts of children the possibility that Americans and Pakistanis can work together, respecting one another, to create works of beauty. We go to suggest a different model for a relationship that has been determined more often by what is expedient rather than what is just, what seems necessary rather than what seems possible.
What about our safety? I am confident we will be safe, but I am also inspired by an anecdote recounted by Ms. Bhutto's interlocutor. Ken Saro-Wiwa was killed for his activism in Nigeria. His son was asked whether the loss of his father was too great a sacrifice, and he said, “All of us have a choice, to make our children safe in the world or to make the world safe for our children.”
In other news, word from our project in Tunisia is good. Sarah Wood writes: "Everything is going pretty well. the students are for the most part really wonderful to work with. its great...i get to teach all day."