Journalist David Rohde on Going Beyond War in the Middle East

For seven months in 2008-09, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Rohde was held captive by the Taliban. Rohde, his interpreter and driver were abducted in Afghanistan on their way to interview a Taliban commander. Fearing they would never be released, Rohde and one of his colleagues orchestrated a daring nighttime escape over and down the 20-foot wall of the compound where they were being held. They eventually reached a Pakistani military post where they were held at gunpoint for several tense minutes until convincing the soldiers that they were not suicide bombers.

Despite that harrowing personal experience, Rohde retains a remarkably hopeful outlook on the opportunity and possibility for change in the Middle East. In Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in a New Middle East Rohde presents an argument for how the U.S. can move beyond beyond military force and intervention in the region, and help foster a new Middle East using what he calls, “a new, more pragmatic” approach.

In this interview and excerpt from his recent discussion at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C., Rohde postulates that the most potent long-term weapon against jihadists is moderate Arabs and South Asians, rather than the American military.

“I do think there is an historic struggle going on now. A lot of people just see chaos in the Middle East, I see a struggle for control between the very conservative Islamists-some of them are violent not all of them and then more liberal more tolerant muslims and it is this really important struggle that is going to affect the region and the world for decades.”

Rohde also talks about the deeply-held beliefs of his guards, including one who was training to become a suicide bomber, as compared to some of the characters in his book that represent a more moderate side of the Middle East region.

Rohde won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1996 for his coverage of the Srebrenica massacre while a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor. He shared a second Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for team coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan while with the New York Times. Rohde wrote about his kidnapping and escape in a 2010 book, A Rope and a Prayer, co-authored with his wife, Kristen Mulvihill. He is also the author of Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, published in 1997.

This interview was created in joint partnership between Bibliostar.TV and Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C. Politics & Prose is an independent bookstore in Washington, D.C., hosting more than 450 author events per year, as well as book club meetings, classes, and more. More information at Politics & Prose.com

 

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