Diana West

Mortenson's unusual life as counselor to generals started back in September 2007, when then-Lt. Col. Christopher D. Kolenda "reached out" to him. Kolenda's wife had sent "Three Cups" to Kolenda in Afghanistan where, as the New York Times put it, "Kolenda knew well the instructions about building relationships with elders that were in the Army and Marine Corps' new counterinsurgency manual, which had been released in late 2006. But `Three Cups of Tea' brought the lessons to life."

By the end of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported, Mortenson was in the Pentagon for a private meeting with Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. By the summer of 2009, Mortenson had met with Mullen several times, Mortenson wrote on his blog, "to consult on new approaches to strategic policy in Afghanistan." And "in the frantic last hours of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's command in Afghanistan" last year, the Times reported somewhat breathlessly, Mortenson was among those the general "reached out" to via email en route from Kabul to Washington. This, the Times wrote, showed the extent to which military leaders "have increasingly turned to Mortenson ... to help translate the theory of counterinsurgency into tribal realities on the ground."

But what happens now that a bunch of those theory-translating realities turn out to be fake? Ladies and gentlemen, we've been had. But not by Mortenson. The military culture that grabbed Mortenson's "Three Cups" and didn't let go was already lost, already in thrall to the Leftist theories and see-no-Islam strategies that have turned U.S. foreign policy into the Great Society with guns. Independently, Mortenson dressed it all up with a heady mix of popular appeal and ever-so-high purpose. Education, not terrorism; ploughshares, not swords; love, not war. Clear, hold and build, build, build!

From COIN to "Three Cups," it's a perfectly irresistible way to avoid the facts and features of jihad culture where such institutional naivete leads to stratospheric waste, fraud and mounting casualties.

Anything to keep the teacups from getting chipped.


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).