Joanne Herring has spent a lifetime mastering the art of building cooperation between diverse groups to achieve results faster, cheaper and better than most traditional or credentialed diplomats. Whether Christian or Muslim, Arab or Jew, Democrat or Republican – all have come together under her persistent efforts.
Long known within the corridors of power in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ms. Herring’s role in southwest Asia was brought to American audiences on the movie screen when the story of “Charlie Wilson’s War” in the 1980s was retold in 2007. She and Congressman Charlie Wilson were instrumental in forcing the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan – without the loss of a single U.S. soldier. She is credited with acquiring Saudi matching funds to covert U.S. aid that tipped the balance against the Soviets.
She has worked for over 20 years among the villages of Pakistan restructuring cottage industries. Her ability to coordinate the ministers, factory owners and illiterate workers on the other side of the Afghan border earned her Pakistan’s highest medal, The Quaid y Asam.
Ms. Herring was appointed Pakistan’s first and only Oman Consul General to the United States under President Zulficar Bhutto. Her success in this role inspired Afghan’s President Zia to make her his personal advisor and to name her Afghanistan’s Ambassador at Large to the United States.
King Hussain II of Morocco became aware of her achievements and asked President Zia to share her as a duel Consul-General, making Ms. Herring the only woman to serve two Muslim countries simultaneously as Consul-General. Ms. Herring remains the only single woman allowed unlimited entry into Saudi Arabia unaccompanied – without a Visa.
Ms. Herring’s ultimate goal is to help the Afghans to become self-sustaining in order to allow for the orderly departure of American troops. The recent military surge in Afghanistan marks the third time that the United States has intervened militarily in that country – Joanne wants it to be the first time that we have won not just the war, but the peace.
Simply put, no other American woman has had experience in the Middle East that ranges from the villages to the highest echelons of government. Ms. Herring has engaged world leaders and village chieftains. She offers the greatest private hope for nation building in Afghanistan.
Marshall Plan Charities is a Texas-based non-profit corporation dedicated to “winning the peace” in war-torn Afghanistan. Founded by international freedom fighter Joanne King Herring in 2009, Marshall Plan Charities is uniquely positioned to complement the ongoing U.S. military effort in Afghanistan by rapidly and effectively redeveloping normal, healthy civilian life village by village.
An Afghan civilian population with clean water, sustainable food sources, basic health care, modern schools and real jobs diminishes the need for, or reliance upon, Taliban poppy fields or U.S. military protection. To fully capitalize on the ongoing U.S. military successes in Afghanistan, Afghan civilians must be provided with the basic tools of civilization so that a culture of self-reliance can permanently supplant a hopeless return to dependence upon a fundamentalist dictatorship. And in the process, spare the world a breeding ground and staging area for international terrorism.
Afghan villages can best be restored by following the Marshall Plan Charities holistic model of simultaneously introducing the “essential five” – clean water, food, health care, schools and jobs. Toward this end, we have assembled a team of Afghan-focused NGOs and institutions that have agreed to work together, with village leadership, to provide these civil essentials village by village rather than project by project.
The alternative to date has been existing governmental single-purpose agencies that seemingly don’t communicate with each other. Consider, for example, a U.S. AID well digging project operating independently from a U.N. farm program – and oftentimes not in the same location. This is a prescription for patchwork coverage and piecemeal results.
Although it is a Marshall Plan Charities goal to eventually be working in Afghan villages throughout each of the 34 provinces, we have chosen to begin in one. This “proof of concept” village will prove the effectiveness of our aid model and its ability to block a Taliban resurgence. The village we have chosen is Khairabad in the province of Herat.
The Marshall Plan Charities model can redevelop this village in just over a year for less than one million dollars – a modest figure for the strategic return. (Please see the attached Model Village Budget for further details.)
Our confidence is grounded in both the years of in-country experience of our NGOs and the happenstance of this holistic model inadvertently being tested in another village in Nangarhar Province for a single growing season through the efforts of a U.S. National Guard unit in 2007. (Note that simultaneous introduction of clean water, modern farming techniques and basic health clinics eradicated poppy production in a single year when a Missouri National Guard Unit implemented what they named an “Agricultural Development Team.”)
Marshall Plan Charities believes that villages can be redeveloped from the inside-out if they are given the tools and guidance to build a life that make sense for them as individuals, families, and tribes. We invite you to imagine the strategic implications if the children of these newly employed farmers went to school. Imagine what self-governing possibilities could emerge once basic health needs were met. Imagine a province that allowed neither support nor even safe passage for Taliban or Al Qaeda militants.
Marshall Plan Charities will play a pivotal role in winning the peace in Afghanistan. The simple but hard truth is this: U.S. and coalition military forces can’t stand down until Afghan villages can stand on their own. And the current patchwork efforts of existing aid organizations cannot be as effective as the Marshall Plan Charities model. Stand with us and a proud Afghan people can restore their home life – and dedicated soldiers from throughout the world can return to theirs.
Shockingly, the aides-Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson, James Bevel, and Samuel “Billy” Kyles-say that despite witnessing everything that unfolded that evening, “no authority from the Memphis Police, the Tennessee State Police or the FBI have ever asked them a single question.”