Flip flops – those quick and easy sandals we slip on our feet to run a quick errand, go to the beach or walk the dog around the block. In many countries, flip flops are the most common form of footwear. Can these sandals fight ISIS?
Matthew “Griff” Griffin and Donald Lee both served multiple tours in Afghanistan fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. These are the guys behind Combat Flip Flops. They still see it as their mission to defeat Islamic extremism in Afghanistan and they think they can do so more effectively with jobs than they ever could by dropping bombs.
Combat Flip Flops manufactures jewelry, clothing and sandals in Laos, Colombia, Afghanistan and the U.S. The men explain that they believe that by offering people steady, honest labor, they can overcome many issues in poverty-ridden countries.
Your average fighter just wants to go make money to feed their families,” explains Lee. “The average annual income for an Afghan is $600. If you give them the option and say ‘Hey, I’ll give you $50 to go plant this bomb or I’ll give you a job where you can make an honest wage and you don’t have to worry about getting killed,’ they’ll take the job. It’s proven, it works.
“We started making flip flops in Afghanistan, but now we make them in Colombia,” continues Griff. These days, Colombia is South America’s next big tourist destination, but not long ago, it resembled something closer to present day Afghanistan. “Fighting in the mountains, a narco-financed counterinsurgency war…what the Colombians did was take our targeting methods and our JDAMs and our precision munitions and hunted the top guys with those. They took the head off the snake and then they granted amnesty to everyone else.”
“They said, ‘Hey guys, here’s the deal: we’re going to subsidize you and give you technical training to launch small businesses in Colombia.’ And then, in the US, we got behind it and we established a free trade agreement.”
The men say economics is a powerful tool in fighting war in Afghanistan and elsewhere, saying they “are adamant that employment, socially-conscious business and education are the most effective weapons against our enemies in the region.”
Read “Two Ex-Army Rangers Believe Flip Flops And Sarongs Will Defeat ISIS” at Gizmodo. (Note: these two former Army Rangers talk like soldiers, so there is some strong language in the article.)