Sweet Fruit From The Bitter Tree: 61 Stories of Creative and Compassionate Ways Out of Conflict by Mark Andreas is an ingenious collection of stories on how to deflect great conflict in a variety of practical situations. Many of the stories in this book come from in-depth interviews and personal accounts of participants. The situations range from bar brawls to entering the ancient city of An Najaf. The stories in this book are not case studies. They are life itself. It is noteworthy to point out that Albert Einstein once said, “Intellectuals solve problems. Geniuses prevent them.”
Occasionally, Sweet Fruit From The Bitter Tree has timeless pearls of wisdom from places as far away in time and place as ancient China. An example is a famous quote from Sun Tzu: “For, to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”
The story of An Najaf was very revealing. The objective of our military was to neutralize opposition in the city so that our military could capture Saddam Hussein’s Fedayeen fighters. Too often, disaster prevention is not appreciated because the catastrophic event never happens in the instant case. And so, prevention isn’t always rewarded.
Fedayeen Saddam was a paramilitary organization loyal to Saddam Hussein. The name meant literally “Saddam’s Men of Sacrifice.” Fedayeen Saddam was one of the most unpopular Iraqi paramilitary groups stemming back to the successful Operation Desert Storm. This group was a violent security organization used mostly to crush dissent in Iraq and thwart American forces.
An important tenet of the masses is that Arabs respect a man who turns his back on an aggressor without fear. In addition, it is a show of respect to place your right hand over the heart and slightly bow as a show of respect. After our entering forces did a combination of these things in An Najaf, the Ayatollah Sistani issued a formal fatwa to the people of Najaf: “Do not interfere with the American forces entering Iraq, Praise be to Allah, Grand Ayatollah Sistani of the Mosque of Ali.”
Sweet Fruit From The Bitter Tree is a wonderful book which covers many modes of behavior that are not written down in any one book. Some wise people can glean these things by the shear act of living life, experiencing the downside of conflict and, hopefully, learning.
The presentation is excellent because Mark Andreas relates these
types of experiences in order to provide readers with viable alternatives to conflict. These strategies have been tested and found to work in implementation. All Americans should read this book.