Shakespearean Tragedy Plays Out in Afghanistan

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Well!

Insanity is occurring at this moment.

An Afghan acquaintance has “kidnapped” a young women and run off with her. I don’t think she was kidnapped so much as they have simply decided that they can’t live without each other and absconded away with one another…for the sake of their youthful, idealized, idyllic love.

Much to the consternation of his family and friends. He has also caused some turmoil for some folks who have helped him out along the way here in the Stan. His father may have faked a heart attack to escape the scene that now evolves and has situated himself in a hotel in Kabul. That may be the “Ariana Hotel.” His father may have had an actual heart attack or episode from the stress of tonight’s events. I’m not sure.

I called one of my acquaintances cell numbers only to reach his family. Specifically his father…who did not sound healthy at all. The father gave his phone to his young son who spoke English quite well. I asked after my young friend. Little Brother excitedly replied; “Wahid not come home after work. We looking for Wahid. If Wahid call you…you tell us.”

Little Brother is who informed me of their location – the Ariana Hotel.

As of this moment, this young man and his lady friend are on the run. Being that this is Afghanistan and his family SEEMS to have connections, I fear more for the safety and welfare of this young woman.

In Kabul and Herat, there are Women’s Prisons which hold many young Afghan ladies who were guilty of nothing more than being in love and running off with a young fellow. These women are usually found guilty of the idiotic “Crimes Against Chastity” and/or “bewitching young men and forcing immorality upon them.”

I’m sure the young man will get his hand slapped and little else. I fear that, if they are found or return of their own volition, the young girl is going to wind up in Kabul Women’s Prison.

There is another unfortunate twist to this.

The young lady in question is supposedly pregnant. The Father allegedly being my young acquaintance. Supposedly, they’ve “run off to Qandahar.” I’ve tried to contact him to talk some sense into him. Alas, my efforts bear no fruit.

Sounds like something out of a crime novel, does it not.

I hope everything works out. I fear it will not.

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The other twist to this is Sharia law combined with Afghan customs. The oft discussed Pashtunwali has another side to it’s code of hospitality. It is a code of revenge. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Blood for blood.

If Wahid has either kidnapped this young lady. He will owe a blood debt for he has dishonored the family of the young lady. Wahid’s actions have humiliated this young woman’s family. That stain upon their family honor will exist until they have extracted a measure of satisfaction. This can be paid in blood or gold. The family might even demand female siblings of Wahid’s family as a means of settling this dispute. If the debt is not paid in gold or women, blood will be demanded. They will hunt Wahid. They may even avenge their “honor” by murdering or kidnapping members of his family.

Badal –may be understood as vengeance, revenge or justice.  It requires violent reaction to a death, injury or insult.  Advances on one’s zan, [ZAHN] zar [ZAHR] or zamin [ZAH-meen] (“women,” “wealth,” or “land”) are the most common offenses requiring revenge.  The only acceptable defense of honor is revenge, equal to but not exceeding the original insult.  Avenging an insult to a woman’s sexual purity is particularly important.

It is a strange and violent culture that must be navigated with care.
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The United States Military and State Department in Afghanistan

Camp Scorpion, Every 4 monthsThis is exactly what has occurred in Afghanistan since 2003.

Worse than this is the fact that every 6 months, each organization stops what they are doing, looks around and heads in a different direction. About every 18 months, the cycle of stupidity circles back around to exactly the same priorities and organizational structure as before.

The United State Army reinvents the wheel in Afghanistan on average every 18 months. The State Department has their own wheels that they keep re-inventing as well.

And no one communicates with anyone else.

The only continuity has been the contractors who have been there, done that, seen it all. Contractors are exactly the last people whom any United States organization would ask for advice, assistance or guidance. This is so despite continuity being the exact reason for which  Contractors are hired. Most Contractors work closely with the US Military and State Department. Even so, when it comes to major decisions, the way ahead or guidance, Contractors are usually the very last persons whom the US Military will seek out for input.

It is amazing. I’ve seen the same programs attempted and failed at least three times each.

And still the worm turns…It is almost as if we want to fail.

Bowe Bergdahl

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Not all soldiers are heroes. Not all deserters are cowards.

Bergdahl’s act was not one of cowardice. It was of conscience.
That, however, matters not. He signed a contract. That contract bound him to his duty. He shirked that duty.
The more honorable path would have been to serve out and depart. Hundreds of thousands have done so. I did this.
He took a path of dishonor. His actions placed other lives in danger. He deserves punishment. The punishment for desertion can be death. If he is murdered by the State for his crimes, it will be his own doing.
Civilized society is nothing more than controlled barbarism. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either insane or ignorant.

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I spent a decade in the military. I never deserted. I’ll throw a stone at him.

Bergdahl is exactly what irks me about many of our young people today. They want all of the benefits without any of the responsibilities. Bergdahl signed a contract.

I don’t believe he should be put to death for desertion.

However, his desertion caused others to be placed in harms way and to die. He may well have caused harm to come to other Americans by divulging information to the taliban.

If his actions caused the deaths of American citizens, should he not be given the same fate? If he caused the taliban to be able to kill Americans by his actions, should he pay no price for that crime.

I don’t care how troubled he was with the war in Afghanistan or some of his fellow Americans. If his desertion and subsequent actions caused Americans to die, should he not be punished?

If I caused your son or daughter to be killed through my willful, negligent actions would you simply forgive me?

I’m not going to call this guy a coward. I believe it took courage to walk off of the FOB and into the unknown that is the Afghan countryside. I know. I’ve been out there.

That said, his actions were selfish. His actions were negligent. He had moral reservations. He should have taken them up the chain of command. I’ve called folks out in Afghanistan for their treatment of the Afghans. I’ve called folks out for their attitudes towards the Afghans.

Bottom line is that Bowe Bergdahl signed a contract. He was fine with benefiting from said contract. When it came time to fulfill his side of the bargain, he balked. The military is not like other jobs. The consequences can and often times are more serious than working at McDonald’s, Google, GE or Best Buy. An individuals decisions can affect the lives of many.

Bergdahl’s actions likely caused the deaths of several Americans. Bergdahl’s actions caused Obama to make decisions on an international level in releasing 5 taliban ranking personnel who may murder more Americans, Afghans and others.

Is Bergdahl somehow above consequences?

Agree or disagree with the Afghan War, it matters not. Bergdahl’s actions have consequences. That weight is heavy. There is a price to pay for such actions and for the consequences of said actions.

Bergdahl is not exempt.

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Politically Correct “United Statesians” Annoyance

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The United States of America is known around the world as AMERICA.

There is a country called America and you, dear Citizen of the United States, live in it.

That you, dear reader, personally, choose to refer to it in your preferred PC choice of wording does not negate the fact that America is a known entity.

Semantics and pedantry.

The correct term for a Citizen of America would be and is U.S. Citizen. The country is known colloquially as AMERICA.

Yes, it has much to do with one’s political bent. Only politically correct Americans who tow the Liberal Party line want to say that AMERICA is the incorrect manner to which one should refer to this country.

The citizens of the United Soviet Socialist Republic did not refer to themselves as United Soviets. The People of the Democratic Republic of China do not refer to themselves as Democratic Republicans. The people of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan do not refer to themselves as Islamic Republicans. Each respectively referred to themselves as Russians, Chinese and Afghans.

Mexico is the Republic of Mexico. People from Mexico are called Mexican. Canada is the, as far as I can tell, simply called Canada. Folks from Canada are called Canadians. It’s not difficult to follow this. If Canadians and Mexicans wish to call themselves America because they hail from the Americas, good for them. I have no problem with this. It would confuse the hell out of everyone and they’d spend half of their time explaining that they are Mexicans from the Americas and, therefore, Mexicans who are Americans or Americans who are Mexicans. However, that would be their prerogative and I’d not be concerned about it.

I refer to myself as an American. When folks ask me from whence I hail, I answer; “America.” Unless I want to be difficult and then I’ll say; “Thailand.” Because I live in Thailand now.

Every time that I have tried the Liberal Politically Correct usage of “United States” as an answer, I have received a blank look upon which I always have to expound by saying; “America.” At the stating of the word “America” in answer to my national origin, I am always rewarded with some semblance of  “Oh, OK. You’re American.”

To repeat, one can always tell a Liberal American traveling the world by how he/she refers to themselves. If an American uses the term “United States” in answer to “Where are you from?;” there is a 99% chance that that person voted for Clinton, Gore or Obama in the last few Presidential elections.

Having traveled all over the world, I can say this with certainty. Only a politically correct Liberal refuses to call themselves an American. Then there are the cowards who will tell folks that they are from Canada.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison all referred to themselves as Americans. I shall defer to their provenance in this matter over the latter day “shame interpretation” of our national identity by any Politically Correct Liberal “United Statesian.”

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No, this is not an American. No self respecting native of the pre-American societies would refer to themselves as American. They called themselves “the humans,” “free people,” Iriqious, Shawnee, Mandans, Apache, Navaho, Algonquin, Seminole and a thousand other names. Not one of these folks were American and not one of them is American. Those descendants of these people who now call themselves American are not the same as the free peoples who inhabited these lands prior to European Colonization. A descendant of the pre-Euro-Colonization Natives of the Americas who has taken up the mantle of Citizen of the United States would be seen as traitors by the man pictured above.

Michael Moore and Freedom of Speech

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America has been supporting despotic monarchies since, at least, World War II. That thanks to our late, “Great” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is disgusting to me and should be to any American that we are so deeply embedded with the tyrants of this world. All in the name of Corporate Greed. But don’t let that stop anyone from decrying Moore as a hypocrite or a fat ass. I think it disgusting how obese MM has become. He looks like a muppet, he’s so fat.

 
Some of the points he makes in his documentaries are very much laden with truths. Yet, he has attacked corporate greed and does profit from the same system. I can’t blame the guy for using the system as it is. He cannot change the whole of the system. He can only make others aware. Certainly, he is a bit of an ass in the way that he gets his point across. I have a certain amount of respect for that, though.
 
My goal in life has always been to comfort the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Working within the system is a good way to go about it. The only persons who can work outside of the system are those willing to be outlaws and those who are born to a silver spoon. Moore serves his purpose and I, for one, am glad to have him speaking his truth. His truth is as valid as many others, more valid than some and less than others. To dismiss all of Moore’s work simply because it makes one uncomfortable is unintelligent and speaks more to the listener than the crier.

Moore is still an American. Even if there are aspects of America with which he disagrees. The Conservative Right hates more because he exercises his right to Freedom of Speech. This is hypocritical of the Right. Moore should speak his mind and tell his truth. If that leaves the Right butthurt, so be it. I, for one, can see where Moore has been correct. A good, healthy, open minded reading of history proves Moore to be correct in many of his more salient points in his documentaries. Moore recently stated that snipers were cowards and shot people in the back. Many folks who have been to War agree with this sentiment. A sniper hides and takes shots at folks who have no idea from where they are being sniped. This is the nature of the job. It’s the same in any war, their snipers are murderous cowards. Our snipers are valiant heroes. That’s the nature of propaganda.

It’s the same with insurgents. The Founding Fathers and the Revolutionary heroes such as the Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, are hailed as heroes. There is not a whole lot of difference in the tactics of Marion and those of ISIS or al Qaeda. Both used terror tactics to achieve a goal of independence. We see it differently only because those tactics when used by ISIS and al Qaeda are an attack on our values and our world view. However, there is no difference. In the American Civil War, Federal Soldiers led by General Sherman raped, pillaged and burned their way through the South. ISIS is doing the same thing in Iraq and Syria. We hail Sherman as a hero for the same actions for which we deem ISIS as villainous and evil.

It’s propaganda. Michael Moore has done nothing more than bring transparency to our hypocrisy and we hate him for it. He’s put a mirror to our face and forced us to peer into our own souls. Sometimes, that viewing leaves us disquieted. This is the nature of what I call Statism. The State wishes us to believe that we are good when we perpetrate evil. We excuse our own excesses. We rationalize our murders and genocidal behaviors. They are evil because they wish that which we do not. It matters not what it is. It only matters that the State tells us that they are wrong and we are right. They are evil. We are righteous. Despite the fact that our actions mirror one another.

Moore is guilty of nothing more than bringing a different perspective to the discussion. We hate him because his perception makes us uncomfortable. That and he is as guilty as the rest of us. He defends or stays silent in the face of the criminality of Obama and the Left. Yet, screams to the heavens when Bush was taking the exact same actions as Obama does now. I am waiting for the Michael Moore treatment of the illegal assassination of Anwar Al Awlaki and his son. Until Moore is as outspoken of the crimes of Obama as he was of the crimes of Bush, I see Moore as nothing more than a Statist propagandist for the Left. I have no respect for the man based on this hypocrisy. That and he is way to intelligent and wealthy to be such an obese monstrosity. He must know that his obesity will kill him.

 
Such is my belief at any rate.

Leftist Angst and Ignorance and the American Sniper

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I’ve read that the true measure of heroism is lives saved. By that definition, Kyle was a hero. Many of the lives that he took with his sniper rifle saved the lives of American soldiers who were the targets of the persons whom Kyle killed. These were insurgents bent on shooting, rocketing or planting IEDs with the intent to kill Americans and Iraqis.

Don’t blame Chris Kyle for going to war. Don’t excoriate him for liking or not disliking war. Don’t mock him because he didn’t take a nuanced view of Iraq or Iraqis. Most of the folks who are criticizing this man’s life and military experience have no idea what it is like to be in combat. Most of them are missing the point entirely. Chris Kyle was a pawn in a larger game. Bush and Obama sent him to Iraq to kill and wage war on those whom the US government filled with your elected representatives claim were/are enemies of the United States. This war was never and is still not about Democracy or an existential threat to America. The wars of the past decade and a half have about control of resources. Both Obama and Bush played this game well. They simultaneously played the American people.

Kyle is an easy target. Especially so, since he is dead. The true target of your ire should be the Corporate CEOs, Bankers and Politicians. However, Kyle being the easier target, American Liberals (Democrats) will instead cowardly attack the dead.


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In and Around Kabul

These are photos that I have taken in and around Kabul over the past couple of years. Kabul is a bit dangerous. It’s also a fun place. I have never had a bad experience in the city. Chicken Street is a riot even if it is a bit pricey these days. City Centre is a nice place to have a cup of coffee on the roof and survey the city. The Kabul Coffee House is a great place for an Ice Mocha with other ex-pats. Night time at Wazir Akhbar Khan Line 15 is a great place to dance the night away or have a few drinks and check out all of the femme ex-pats, Chinese hookers or Filipina gals. The Marco Polo Restaurant is good for excellent Italian cuisine. Some of the Chinese Restaurants actually serve chinese food. lol

I do know of people who have had terrible experiences there. One friend of mine was beaten badly in a roust of the local underground clubs. The “police” took him outside and beat him until his ribs were bruised black and blue. Then took him to their “police station” and kindly accepted a couple hundred dollars for his release. During this same raid, a group of Filipina girls were taken out and raped repeatedly. This set off a huge international incident. The Chinese “Restaurants” are raided about once every three months. Any place that sells alcohol is subject to being raided by one faction or another. Womens Beauty salons can be raided at any time if they are accused of being houses of prostitution. The accusation of prostitution can stem from an incident as simple as a local Mullah walking by and hearing loud laughter. Police at checkpoints will attempt to bribe you for a 20 spot to pass through their territory. This is easily defeated by stating loudly and aggressively that you are US Army and not backing down. This works as I’ve used it. The local police are scared to death of the US Army. Now that I train them and am on cheek kissing terms with the local Regional Commander, I’m pretty much untouchable. Not that I go off post alone these days. Since being hired by this new company and moving to the West, it’s UAV MILCON or nothing. Can’t go wrong in an armored vehicle.

This place wasn’t always so terrifying and violent. Before the Taliban, before the War of the Warlords. Back when the King was attempting to enact liberal reforms. Kabul was a haven for dope smoking hippies. That was the 60s and 70s. Kabul was also a Euro holiday spot. Places like Mazar-e Sherif, Ghazni and Herat, even Q’andahar, were tourist spots as well. Of course, that all came to a screeching halt when the Soviets came crashing in to install peace and prosperity at the tip of the communist sword. Back in 2006. As I was driving around, I did see a few tourist running around. I saw a couple of backpackers in September of 2007 sneaking around Kabul and I’ve heard of the occasional tourist and backpacker passing through Herat since I’ve been here. It will be years before the tourists come back in any respectable numbers due to the terror element. Such a shame. There is much to be seen and much to experience in Afghanistan.

Kabul Map from 1999

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Kabul, Afghanistan
This one-meter resolution satellite image of Kabul, Afghanistan was collected on Sept. 7, 1999 by Space Imaging’s IKONOS satellite. IKONOS travels 423 miles above the Earth’s surface at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour. (Mandatory photo credit: spaceimaging.com)

2 years and three days from the date of this photo, the life of this city would be altered forever. The Twin Towers in New York would fall and the US Army would invade Afghanistan. Bombing Kabul and deposing the taliban and their medieval reign. The city and it’s people will recover and nothing will ever be the same. Some will be thankful. Others will fight.

Having driven around Kabul a fair amount, I know the city fairly well. It’s odd to look at this map and see how it used to be. Major landmarks of today are missing from the view. The American Embassy Compound. Massoud Circle Monument. Of course, Massoud was still alive in 1999. It would be two years later that the cowardly al Qaeda assassins murder Massoud with a bomb hidden in a video camera. Not until 2002 or 2003 that the American Embassy compound begins construction. The old airport facilities have begun to be torn down and today there is a new facility built by the coalition and run by a British company.

The safe houses in which we stay when I move through Kabul are not there nor are the Indian and Iranian Embassies. Camp Eggers is still a group of houses. I’m guessing they are vacated as when the US first inhabited that compound there were years old animal carcasses found laying about.

Kabul has changed quite a bit since this picture was taken.

In 1999, the taliban were running around beating men for not having 3 inches of beard. They were shooting women for adultery. The men, of course, were given 20 lashes or so for having been bewitched by those women. Women were not allowed to walk the streets of Kabul without a relative male escort. All manner of medieval lunacy ruled the streets of Kabul under the reign of terror imposed by the Taliban and their Pakistan and al Qaeda sponsors.

Today, though Kabul still convulses in violence on the odd occasion, it is a city much like any other in Central Asia. No Westerner coming for the first time would think it civilized. Comparatively speaking, though, Kabul is normalized. The bazaars are open. Shop keepers go about their daily business. The citizens of Kabul are free to come and go as they please. Women can be seen walking the streets alone and in pairs. No male escort required. Unless, of course, they are family of one of the backward thinking members of the Muslim community. Kids walk the streets. Students going to and from Kabul University and a plethora of schools from primary to High School. There are snooker halls and gyms open all over the city. Restaurants are everywhere. Poorly maintained cell towers. Even shopping malls have sprung up here and there.

Taken as a whole, Kabul is not a bad city. The corruption of the Karzai government is ubiquitous. Seen everywhere. From the police who patrol the streets and man the central stations to the government officials who earn 10 to 20 thousand dollars a year, yet, own million dollar homes dotted across the city land scape and surrounding neighborhoods.

It’s interesting to see this bit of history. An apparition from the near past. So much has changed. So much altered. Both progress and regression.

I wonder what it will look like in another decade. Will chaos rule again or will the Afghan people move ahead and persevere despite the leaders that look to profit from the violence and chaos?

Explosion on Jalalabad Road outside of Kabul

A series of explosions rocked Camp Gazi, a Coaltion Base outside of Kabul, today.  The blast was felt as far away as Camp Alamo.   It was reported that the explosion was accidental.  They were set off by an engineer igniting a series of propane tanks while he was working near them at the Ford Plant on Jalalabad Road. Here’s an account on the ground: “Tuesday 3 July 1400 and I have just made the arduous 3 day journey back to camp Alamo from Canada after 21 days of glorious leave, yes back to the mundane grind of daily routine and dealing with mindless petty orders issued by our commanders.   So its just after lunch and the building shakes, a feint boom could be heard over the 2 air conditioners running on bust in the office,  “that was an explosion;” say’s our resident Romanian born Canadian HQ’s Cpl, “yes it was i say” and we head out.  Of course my Battle rattle is in my room so i make my way there as the alarm sounds “BUNKER,BUNKER, BUNKER  THIS IS NOT A DRILL”  so I’m on my way back down the narrow alley toward my PEB when another detonation occurs, right in front of me, or so it felt, a huge plume of fire and smoke raise up in behind my PEB and I decide that I will take the bunker without my kit instead of risk moving onto the 2nd floor to retrieve it.  I move back to bunker 2 as the last time we were under attack i was in bunker 1 which was extremely arduous on the body (6 hrs of kneeling on gravel in a really confined area)  so bunker 2 we’re standing there (boss and I) and we’re calling the guys who are spread all over the camp.  So we get a hold of the guys and over the span of about 30 minutes we are rocked I’d say 3 more times, and then hear some small arms fire which i figured was friendly,  i thought to myself, self those booms were way to big to be RPG’s and 5-6 suicide bombers is a large scale attack,  I just didn’t think it was an attack and later on I turned out to be right, apparently the Ford dealership, across from Camp Gazi has several 50,0000 lt propane tanks which were “accidentally” detonated by an inept Afghan electrician, the result was 3 of these beasts detonating causing several hundred casualties and vaporizing a number of others, the small arms fire I heard was from Camp Waton where the guards fired warning shots above a panicked crowd of injured and terrorized locals attempting to escape by scaling the walls of the camp.  Once the all clear was given the Doc went next door to see how the KMTC TMC was handling itself and reported back,  the next day we sent a crew over to Gazi to check on our Greeks who were just about to head back to Greece.  On arrival the story told by the Greek OC was one of terror as the site of the explosion was adjacent to the camp with only the Hesco walls saving they’re bacon,  “I thought it was a nuclear bomb” says the Krakken,  poor bastards,  “I looked out my window and saw 3 men running on fire”  these were likely ANP who were manning a check point.    Of course later that night one of the duty TOC guys accidentally hit the switch activating the SECFOR alarm which pretty much had me up the rest of the night coupled with my jet lag,  “welcome back Sir”,  I received a disproportionate number of welcome backs due to the situation.” If the Taliban don’t kill ya, incompetent fools are now trying to do the job for them.

America is either a Nation of Laws or it is not. Police cannot be above the Law.

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On March 23, 2005, I lost a good friend. He was a rookie Police Officer. He’d been on the job about a year.

I helped Pete build up the courage to ask out his future wife who is one of my best friends. Pete was a good guy.  A moral man who would have been a good Cop.  I’m not sure if that would have helped or hindered his career. I would have hoped that he’d have risen through the ranks and tackled the hard questions of Policing in modern day America. I would hope that he’d have done some good and, perhaps, even gone on to bring change and accountability to the Police force of Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky.

However, his life was cut short. I would blame this on poor training. Pete wasn’t equipped, yet, to be out there on his own and survive. He wasn’t trained to survive. Like most officers, he was trained to respond and to “shoot first.” However, he wasn’t equipped to deal with a mentally ill 16 year old with a death wish. Because of that, he died. The Louisville Metro Police Department failed Pete massively.

I have an Uncle who is a career Cop. Another Uncle has been a Sheriff of a small locality right outside of Louisville proper.

I’ve spent 3 years in Afghanistan training Afghan National Police forces and working with amazing people who happen to be Police.  Some of them decry the State of the Police forces in America. Some of them…well, they are part of the problem.

By no means do I hate Police.  What I absolutely abhor is the corruption inherent in our American Police forces.

I was asked by Afghan Police constantly how they could combat the corruption that is rife within their Police Forces. I never had a good answer. Cops who fight corruption die. They are killed by fellow Officers. They are allowed to be placed into dangerous situations that lead to their deaths so as to rid the corrupt Cops of the rat. A good Cop who tries to do something about corruption is ostracized.  They’re run off the job. They are bullied. This is American Policing.

I have spent a good deal of time researching American Police. What I have found is rampant corruption and Cops who believe that they are above the law. The problem is that the US Courts have given them qualified immunity. This, in fact, does place them above the law.

This must change or America can not be a nation of laws or a nation of Liberty.

Bigotry in Afghanistan

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Let me preface this by saying that I am by no means making the statement that all Afghans are bigots or racist.  Nor am I stating that all Afghan National Security Force personnel are bigots.  That said, racism and bigotry are rampant in Afghanistan.

It is a shame that folks come to Afghanistan from all over the world to try to lend a hand and their efforts are repaid with racist attitudes.  Bad enough that corruption has made it all but impossible to make real progress here.  Measurable progress inn our endeavors in the Stan is extremely difficult to sustain.  This is bad enough.  When advisors are ignored simply because of the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes, this only makes the job more difficult.

I have served in mentor and advisory positions for roughly 5 years in Afghanistan.  I’ve worked with the Afghan National Police in Herat, Farah, Ghor and Badghis as well as with the Afghan National Army in Kabul both with the Kabul Military Training Center and the Afghan Partnering Unit.  In each of these locations, I have discovered that Afghans, who see themselves as “White,” have harsh and negative opinions of peoples of Asian and African descent.

If one has the appearance similar to Hazaras, one is automatically looked down upon.  A mentor who looks Hazara is all but ignored.  I have discovered the same attitudes shown towards African Americans and all other African peoples.

While I was in Herat, the ANP would make disparaging statements about Barack Obama during his candidacy openly mocking him because of his skin color.  They started calling my African-American counterparts “Obama cousins.”  They had this attitude towards anyone who looked remotely African American.  This attitude carried forward in their mentor/advisory relationships with African-Americans as well as any Asian peoples.

Asian peoples would be called Hazari and thenceforth ignored being seen and treated as valueless.  African Americans would be treated similarly.

I experimented with this a few times by having one of my team members discuss subjects with them and make suggestions about areas well within his expertise.  None of the Afghans would take him seriously or attempt to put these suggestions into action going so far as to tell said team member that the suggestion would be impossible to implement or that it was a bad idea.  Usually they would employ the favored Afghan tactic and say; “This is not in our culture.”   I would make the same suggestions a week or so later.  The Afghans would usually act on the suggestion within a week or so.  Same suggestion, sold in much the same way.  One Black person, one White person.  Completely opposite reactions.

At my newest location, I discussed these racial attitudes with my interpreter.  He replied that I may be correct.  I have been able to step in here and get positive results in a much shorter time than my counterparts.  I have noticed the relationships between my fellow advisors and the Afghans.  From my vantage point after watching and listening for a month, there is no reason that more improvement could not have been made in a shorter time.  However, two of the advisors with whom I work are Black.  Both of them are experienced.  Both of them retired military.  They have the expertise to get the job done, to advise and to mentor.  Both of them have been here in Afghanistan around 4 years as civilian advisors as well as having deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq while serving in the military.

Neither of them have made great strides in this position.  Something toxic existed.  That toxicity was, I surmised, the racism of the local Afghan officers.

Fast forward to a week ago, I told my interpreter that the reason that one of my counter-parts was having issues was the racism of his Afghan counterpart.  My Interpreter gave me that “OKAY…” look and laughed it off.  A couple of days later, this Afghan told me that he didn’t like “Africans.”  His word for Black people.  I looked at my Interpreter with raised eyebrow but said little.  I’m not here to preach at anyone concerning moral issues.  That said, I decided to put into action a plan to turn this Afghan Colonel towards the side of light and away from racism and prejudice.  I’ll have to be subtle but anything is possible.

I’ve run into racism all over the world.  For some odd reason, many Americans and especially the more naive people on the Left, believe that racism is “America’s special shame.”  I don’t see it that way.  Racism in America is mild as compared to that of Thailand, the Gulf and Central Asia.  I’ve encountered racism, bigotry and prejudice the world over.  It has hit me from all sides.  I’ve been treated preferentially in places like Afghanistan and Cambodia because of my “bright skin.”  I’ve also been treated as if I were less than human or automatically judged negatively due to the color of my skin and my national heritage.  Being an American pays off well in most cases across the world.  At times, though, being an American will be cause for instantaneous and harsh judgment.  This is mostly the case with liberal Europeans who have a special hate for all things American.

I find it unfortunate and shameful that African Americans leave behind racism in America only to find racism on the opposite side of the planet.  That same racism can be found all over, though. It is not unique to Afghanistan.

Myself, I’ve found it best to see people as they are.  Through their actions and their interactions with humanity.  Judging a person by the color of their skin or because of their place of birth or religion of birth is a wretched lens through which to see the world and interact with our fellow humans.  I have met good people and evil people of all races, nationalities and religions.  There is not special combination that magically informs me as to a persons goodness or lackthereof.

Judging on superficialities is the only sure way to close oneself off to the beauty that exists in the world.  I have met wonderful people because I have refused to judge people based upon anything else but their individualism.  We are each of us unique.  No person should be judged based upon any subset or group.  To look at another and instantly come to the conclusion that they are unworthy of me is in and of itself a shameful sin.  To come to this conclusion simply because they have darker skin than I…that must be the greatest sin against humanity ever conceived by man.

THE GREAT BRINGERS OF DEMOCRACY AND LIBERTY — A TALE OF BETRAYAL AND DEATH

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When we depart Afghanistan, we will be leaving thousands of partners who aided the US/Coalition effort.

Leaving them to their fate.

These folks, who are ALL MUSLIM, have risked their lives for meager pay. We pay them anywhere from 150.00 to 3000.00 monthly average but most make closer to 800.00USD. In the meantime, thousands of them have been beaten, threatened kidnapped and at the extreme murdered in cold blood along with their families.

I have huge problems with Islam and what I call the “Muslim mentality.” That said, these folks, all of whom are Muslim have aided in our efforts against the insurgency, al Qaeda and the Taliban. They’ve put their lives on the line for their country, for the US & Coalition and for us.

I can’t not admire that and I can’t help but feel some sense of shame for we shall abandon them just as we abandoned the Vietnamese, Lao, Khmer and, more recently, the Iraqis.

We did not have to come here. They did not have to accept us. Nonetheless, we came. We stirred up the hornet’s nest. We shall depart hailing ourselves as the Great Bringers of Democracy and Liberty.

They will stay, suffer and die. We are culpable here in the Stan just as we are for the events transpiring in Fallujah and Mosul.

 

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David Petraeus

I knew this kid.  He works in a nan shop in Kabul right near where I was.  I bought bread from him two or three times a week.  I used to give him a Snickers bar when I bought fread.  Five of those “loaves” hanging behind Petraeus cost about 1USD (50 Afs).  Best bread in the world.

General Dan Bolger is part of “Why We Lost.”

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Dan Bolger and commanders such as him are “why we lost” in Afghanistan.  I witnessed the results of Dan Bolger as Commanding General in Afghanistan. He may have been personally courageous and that’s fine. His decision to ground everyone on FOBs and bases and to make us all targets by mandating all travel in MRAPs, MATVs and giant uparmored SUVs (aka Taliban Targets)  has negatively affected the mission and, in my opinion, has directly contributed to the deaths of military and civilians.

It was an ignorant decision that was based on fear or self preservation.

I worked with MPRI in Afghanistan. The whole of the time that I was with MPRI, one MPRI civilian was killed. He was traveling in a military convoy.  Since Bolger’s change, the losses have kept on coming.  Why?  Because he turned us into targets when, before, we had always been anonymous.  A decade into a war, Bolger felt that we had lost and his decision reflected that attitude.  Bolger wasn’t trying to win. He was trying to survive without hurting his career.  I wasn’t impressed and I’m still not impressed.

His decision to Fobbitize the whole of the country has caused this war to be lost. His attitude bled down to the troops. “Oh…it’s dangerous out there. We can’t do that.” It’s a war zone. Of course, it’s dangerous. You drive on and accomplish the mission.  Prior to Bolger, a great part of the force was camouflaged…concealed and could move about the country relatively unnoticed.  We blended in.   After Bolger, we all had great big huge bulls eyes on our backs.  Bolger’s defeatism led directly to his preconception that it was a losing effort becoming a reality.  He carried defeatism into the battle and left his mark.  He is one of the architects of defeat.

I’ve walked the streets of Kabul alone. And? Personal bravery. Awesome. Personal bravery doesn’t always translate to wise or courageous leadership.  George Armstrong Custer was a brave individual. He was a suicidal commander. Gen. John Hood was a courageous man. Yet, his recklessness led to massive defeat. Gen. McClellan was a courageous man. Yet, his unwillingness to commit, lack of resolve and over-caution led to his defeat and ultimate relief of command. Grant abhorred the carnage of war. Sherman lost control of his sanity temporarily over his belief of what his war would become. Yet, both men committed and led their commands to victory by using the resources at hand and taking the fight to the enemy.

Bolger was a McClellan. He stayed in command in Afghanistan 365 days too long. He is partially responsible for Why We Lost.

 

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The Obama Legacy (Oligarchy and Soft Martial Law)

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Obama’s legacy is:

Terror Tuesdays
Drone Warfare on steroids
the murder of US citizens
ramping up the Police State
supporting 3rd World thugs
trillion dollar indebtedness
an economy on the brink of collapse
America viewed as the greatest threat to world stability
Obamacare ensuring that the “health industry” is raping the American taxpayer
using the IRS and DHS to destroy political enemies
Fed Reserve more powerful than ever
employment transformed into permanent wage slavery
the 1% more influential and wealthy than ever in American history
the madness of taunting Russia unnecessarily in the Ukraine and Eastern Europe (continuing Bill Clinton’s legacy)
presiding over the final slide from Republicanism to Oligarchism
Occupy movement folks imprisoned for protesting based upon KGB tactics
NSA domestic spying
CIA operating in America
The Drug War trumping up charges on average Americans
the militarization of all areas of American governance from local to federal levels

And soon, if you don’t pay your taxes on time, you won’t be able to depart the US.

Even non-US citizens are being stalked and harassed over funds “owed” to the US.

And his greatest achievement: fooling “democrats” into believing that he is doing all of this for their benefit

#IdiotAmerica, What about any of this sounds like hope? What about any of this sounds like freedom? Obama doesn’t need to take anyone’s guns. He’s brought more war machinery to the US Government than any US President in history.

In Obama’s America, we are all guilty until proven innocent.

America after Obama is not that different from Afghanistan.

And Obama is being lauded as a savior.

Awesome!

Republicans and Democrats are the proving to have been the destruction of America. Good job!

There’s your hope and change. May you all get what you deserve.

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No Regrets Reviewed by Sir Rodric Braithwaite

No Regrets Reviewed by Sir Rodric Braithwaite

A month ago, I sent a copy of my book to Sir Rodric Braithwaite. Sir Rodric is a British Diplomat and Author. I had read his book Afghantsy about the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. About half way through, I noticed that much of the Soviet experienced mirrored our ( US) own.

I decided to send Sir Rodric a copy of my book and ask his opinion on my assumptions and observations. Sir Rodric received the book and immediately emailed me. We had been corresponding via email and I asked if he could write up short review of the book that I could post and send out to attempt to garner interest in the book.

Though he was busy with the Crimean Crisis, Sir Rodric was gracious enough to grant my request. The attached is the result.

SHORT BIO: Sir Rodric Braithwaite, British Diplomat and Author, former British Ambassador to the Soviet Union & Russian Federation,the Prime Minister’s foreign policy adviser and chairman of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee

Author of:

Across the Moscow River: The World Turned Upside Down
Moscow 1941: A City and Its People at War
Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan

An American Adventure in Afghanistan

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Coming soon…

A tale of American incompetence and Afghan corruption.

A decade in  the ‘Stan.

Romance…adventure…cultural commingling…deep spiritual philosophizing…Mullah  Dawood…Afghan Police…friendship…soul searching…utter stupidity…and sometimes hilarity.

Somewhere in there I manage to be serious and learn  a thing or two.

Hope you read and enjoy.

The Women’s Bazaar

Each week, Camp Eggers stages a bazaar at which local venders come and sell their wares.  The Afghans sell everything at the bazaar.  One can purchase everything from rugs, tapestries, paintings by local artists, jewelry gems and bootlegged products ranging from Rolex Watches to newly released movies or TV programs.

Today, however, was the Women’s Bazaar.  This event is specially sponsored to give women in Kabul a chance to develop their micro-businesses and, I think, to give them the experience of mixing with other cultures and peoples.  A sort of manner in which to broaden these women’s horizons and opportunities.

It’s a bit nerve tingling to walk through this bazaar.  It’s much smaller.  Much more open and airy than the usual bazaar.  The items on offer are much more limited.  There were no carpets, no bootleg DVDs, no fake Rolex watches.  It was mostly handicrafts and jewelry with a smattering of paintings thereabouts.

The dynamic was quiet and a bit odd for me.  There weren’t too many Afghan men there.  I remember seeing only one Afghan male and one young boy thereabouts.  I spied, perhaps, twenty young girls ranging in age from 6 or 7 to 14 or 15.  A couple of them were quite pretty little ladies.  I counted roughly 30 different booths with one or two women therein.  Each selling scarves, jewelry or paintings.  No huge collections of gems or rings and necklaces.  All offered a small selection.  I think mostly they were selling scarves.  I’ve purchased dozens of scarves in Afghanistan and have no desire to purchase more.

The prices at the bazaar are no longer a bargain.  Not for what is on offer.  I think all of the good bargains were bought out in ’05 and ’06.  After that, somehow the pricing of everything became inflated.  I, for one, refuse to be haggled out of a good price simply because fools came before me and would pay any price.  So, I’ve pretty much foregone the “bargains” to be had at the bazaar since my return.  I purchased a few items and sent them to Unny but nothing like before.

Back to the Woman’s Bazaar.

The only person whom I recognized out there was the woman from the Afghan Scouts.  She is at the other bazaar each Friday.  I suppose she is sponsored by some US scout master and that allows her to gain and edge on the Men in the weekly bazaar.

I bought an item from her a couple of weeks ago.  A special order for Unny.  She was a nice woman and speaks decent English.  She smiled and said hello as I left the bazaar.

And that was the strange thing.  I’m not accustomed to Afghan women smiling at me, greeting me, talking to me.  I wanted to take photos of some of their jewelry but I was nervous about hauling out my phone and snapping away.  Would someone get offended?  Would it freak them out as much as their presence unnerved me?

I don’t think the children would have minded.  They’d have posed prettily more than likely and asked for a tip.  Something along those lines, I’m sure.  However, Afghan women are, for the most part, a mystery to me.  I don’t know how to act around them.  What I might do to get myself or them in trouble.  What cultural faux pas I might make in an effort to be nice and casual about the whole ordeal.

So I walked through the bazaar trying not to make TOO MUCH eye contact.  I smiled and met them eye to eye when they attempted to sell me something.  But didn’t act my usual self as I would have walking through the other bazaar.  And I overpaid for two bracelets simply to support the women who were there.

And therein lies a problem.  I paid double for an item simply because it was an Afghan woman and I felt like it would be idiotic, rude, somehow un-chivalrous to haggle with a woman in Afghanistan.  These women are destined to a life of toil in a land where men rule absolutely.  They will live out their lives as nothing more than baby factories and what little money they can make will be taken from them by their husbands or family.

We think we can somehow make their lives better by staging this “woman’s bazaar.”  It will make very little difference.  I have not seen the attitudes of men change towards women in Afghanistan in the decade that I’ve come here.  Certainly, some men have softened and some who have left Afghanistan will have changed their attitudes and will adapt to the West.  By and large, though, a woman’s bazaar and anything similar to it is a ruse that will make us feel better.  It will do very little for the lot of women in this land.

I wish it were not so.  I can’t say that it will be, though.  That is shame to humanity as a whole.

We hold on to our petty religions and beliefs and the weak pay the price.

I did not intend to write in this manner but this is what ushered forth and this is what I’ll post.

Afghan Art

Lapis Lazuli is also from Afghanistan

I’m fairly certain that this is not an “antiquity” of Afghanistan.  However, I’ve carried it in and out of Afghanistan several times since I bought in the bazaar at Bagram Airfield in November of 2003.  It’s a sort of totem.  My bringer of fortune.  I had it with me at Bagram, Camp Eggers, Camp Phoenix, Camp Stone and Camp Alamo.  I’ll probably have Unny Fed Ex it to me when I get back to Camp Eggers.

I’ve never seen another bust like it in any of the other bazaars.  I’ve been to quite a few of them.  I suppose it is a one of a kind.  It does have that look as if it was sliced off of some larger piece.  As if at one time it had a body and wasn’t just shoulder and head.

I’ve flown out of Afghanistan with it several times.  The Customs and Border Police have stopped me each time and asked me; “Is this old?  Is it antiquity?  Where did you get it?”   The first time, I told them that I bought it at the bazaar at Bagram.  Later, I lied and told them that I purchased it in Thailand.

Who knows?  Perhaps I have a genuine piece of ancient art on my hands.  I seriously doubt it, though.

The bust has had many admirers over the years and I’ve been offered various amounts from folks to hand it over.   I can’t do it.  It’s the first thing that I bought in Afghanistan.  If I have my way, it’ll be the last thing that I ever hold and it will accompany me to the grave.  It’s been with me for nearly a decade now.  Hopefully, it will be with me in life another 40 years and then it will rest with me in eternity.

Unny will keep it for me while I’m in Afghanistan this time.  It’s fortune will shine upon her and our endeavors in the Land of Smiles as I find new fortune back in my old haunt.

 

 

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The Civil War

“You were such a sweet child in America.  I told Baba to send you back.  For your own good,” shouted Wali.
“I’m not American!  I am an Afghan.  You would do well to remember that part of you as well.  We live in Afghanistan.  We are Muslim.  Our family is Muslim.  This is who we are.  It is our heritage.  Our pride!”  came the raging rejoinder from Amir.

“Our sister is not a donkey to be sold at market.  She is our blood.”

“She will do as she is told.  That is a woman’s place.  She knows this.  She will do her duty.”

“Her duty?  What is wrong with you?  Have you no shame?”

“What of you?  Have you no shame?  You are Muslim.  You are one of us.  You should understand.”

“I am not Muslim.  That is the faith of our fathers.  I never accepted it.  I refuse to acknowledge it.”

“Be careful brother.  That is apostasy.  Blasphemy.  You would do well to remember where you are.”

“And that is why i am leaving this god forsaken Muslim land.”

“We will see what Baba says about that.”

“Father has no say.  I have reached my majority.  The choice is mine.  I have my passport.  I am an American citizen.  As are you.”

“I have renounced America.  I will fight the American imperialist.  Together with my brothers, we will re-take our country and return it to it’s Islamic glory.”

“Islamic glory?  HA!  There is no glory in the oppression…the madness that you contemplate.  You speak of glory and Islam.  Yet, what you want is a reversion to an Islam that never existed.  You and your ‘brothers’ are quite insane.”

“America invaded and occupied our lands.  They bomb our countrymen.  They attack Islam.  They burn our Holy Qu’ran!  They are infidels.  They do not belong here.  We shall repel them and send them scurrying back to their homes as happened in Vietnam.”
“That was a different time and place.  America is different now.  If you would lay down your arms and let them help us, Afghanistan could be a place for all of our people.  Instead, you wish to place women back in the burqa, you wish to repress the Shi’a.  You wish to force Islam on everyone as the taliban did in the ‘90s.  You are no better than the fascists.  You are no better than the communists who invaded.  The Americans would help us but we will not let them.”

“The Americans are here only for our resources.  They do not care about Afghans.  They hate Muslims.  They hate Islam.”

“That is your own hate speaking.  Listen to yourself.”

“This is the Afghan in me speaking.  It is the Muslim.  You have lost yourself in your love of America.  Baba should never have taken us there.  It was the act of a traitor.  The act of a coward.”

“So Father is a coward?  You have done nothing in your life.  With your big words and lack of deeds.”

“You know nothing of what I’ve done.  I am with my brothers.  We continue the war against the infidel.  We fight for Islam.”

“You fight for oppression.  You fight for the Saudis.  The Islam of your people is a blasphemy to humanity.  Mohammad would not know you.  He would think you a monster.”

“But this is not why we fight today.  Our sister has been given to marriage.  This marriage will fulfill all of Baba’s obligations and allow him to live his life out free of debt.  If Ameerjan seeks to not fulfill her obligations to this family, she will bring dishonor to us.”

“And what will you do?  Will your honor demand Ameerjan’s blood?  Will you murder her for honor’s sake.”

“I will do what is necessary.  She is bound by blood to us.  You are bound by blood to us.”

“I am bound by humanity.  I am bound by familial love.  I am not bound by this disgusting honor code that demands my Sister’s blood for disobedience to an archaic system that enslaves her to the men of this family.”

“So what will you do?”

“I will do what is necessary…”

“Then you will be the author of your own sadness.”

“Our sister will fulfill her obligations to this family.  She will marry Mullah Alam Khan.  It will be done.  She will bring honor to this family.  Her selfless act will give Baba the means to resurrect our family name and to build a future for our family in our homeland.”

“She will not marry that antiquity of a man.  That wrinkled bastard will not touch her.  It will not happen.”

“It will happen.  You will go back to America…to your beloved infidels.  You will not stand in the way.”

“It is already done.  Ameerjan was taken away in the night.  We knew that you plotted against us.”

“Here is your passport.  In the envelope is a ticket to America.  Return to your beloved corruption and never return.  You are no longer my brother.  If I see you again, you will not live to tell of the meeting.  Be gone.”

“You bastard!  This is not the last of this.  Shoaib will undo this evil bargain that you have made with our sister’s life.”

“Be careful brother.  Your forget your place.  You are older than me but Baba takes my counsel.  I have the influence here.  Kabul is my home now.  You are a stranger here.  You are an infidel.  You border on apostasy.  One word from me and you will find yourself in prison.  You will not long live in a Kabul prison.  With a word, your life is forfeit.”

“I will leave.  Have no fear of that.  This land is dying because of you and your brothers.”

“Speak no more brother.  We should part now while I am still willing to allow it.  Sister will marry Alam Khan.  You will be well financed in America.  Keep your own counsel.  Do nothing foolish.  Tell Shoaibjan nothing.  Even with his American friends and training, he can do nothing.  If he tries to take our sister, he will die.  She is, even now, on her way to Lashkar Gah.  There is nothing for him there but death.  Rash acts will only  serve to endanger Ameerjan.”

“We shall see.”

I flew back to America that night.  On the layover in Dubai, Shoaib met me at the Trader’s Hotel.

“Shoaib, my brother.”

”Wahid, how are you?  What word on Ameerjan?”

“They have sent her to Lashkar Gah.  It will be dangerous for you there.  It is the Taliban homeland.  Helmand Province is violent.  Terrible men prowl the countryside.  The Taliban are all powerful there.”

“I did missions there when I was still in the Army, Wahid.  Don’t worry.  I know the place well.  I know people there who will help me.”

“You must take care.  Ameerjan must not be made to go through with this corrupt marriage.  The thought of that old man touching my sister pains me.”

“Wahid, give me all of the details that you have.  I’ll make contact.  I have a plan.”