NYT reporter David Rohde talks about his experience as a hostage of the Taliban after having been kidnapped last November and held in captivity for seven months.
Rohde’s account of his ordeal in a recent series of New York Times articles is fascinating. Here’s some observations from his experience, as summarized in the Christian Science Monitor in a piece extrapolating on what its significance might be for U.S. policy makers:
Rhode describes how his captors talked not just of events in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but dwelt on casualties in Iraq and among the Palestinians. Their views may have been geographically broad, but were narrowly focused thanks to education limited to religious schooling and jihadi videos of suicide bombers, beheadings, and ambushes. Debate proved pointless.
“Their hatred for the United States seemed boundless,” wrote Rhode. “Nothing I said … seemed to change their minds.”
They remained unfazed about hating Christian missionaries while they tried repeatedly to convert Rohde; they cried over the killing of civilians by militaries, but cheered their own killing of dozens of civilians in suicide car bombs.
Even American soft power made little difference: His captors sang Beatles tunes and listened to American radio news.
The bottom line seems to be that there can be no form of reconciliation with these fanatics, who are every bit as deluded, thoroughly inconsistent, and lacking in cognitive dissonance as their neo-conservative adversaries.