It’s funny but the Soviets used some of the same lame excuses when they invaded Afghanistan.
It’s funny but the Soviets used some of the same lame excuses when they invaded Afghanistan.
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.
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.
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.
I see the results of his decision. He may have been personally courageous. 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 has negatively affected the mission and, in my opinion, has directly contributed to the deaths of military and civilians.
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.
Obama’s legacy is:
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.
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.
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
Across the Moscow River: The World Turned Upside Down
Moscow 1941: A City and Its People at War
Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
The approach that I’ve attempted in my book No Regrets is to simply tell the story. Lay out what happened/happens in Afghanistan/Nation Building and let people decide for themselves if it’s good, bad or somewhere in between. I try not to lead to an opinion.
My opinion is that the Afghans are not ready for “democracy” or even Republicanism/Pluralism. They are still tribal, patriarchal, superstitious (religious) and, by our standards, medieval. There is nothing that an outside force can do to elevate them to a higher plain.
For the most part, they still sell their daughters into marriage. They still see dark people as inferior. They still believe that non-believers (in Islam) are inferior. Their politicians are corrupt and see that as the way of business and governance.
Warlords still rule every facet of political life, social justice and still guide the way through violence or the threat of violence. Mullahs still rule the social sphere. Islam guides their thinking to a large degree.
We can only influence and hope that they integrate some of our mannerisms, culture (political and social) and values into their way of life. In many ways we have done this already — positively and negatively. However, the people of Afghanistan are a long way off from becoming anything resembling what the West would recognize as civilized or modern. They’re somewhere around 1500 in terms of Western attitudes and such.
Women have no real rights. Factions vie for power in the post-ISAF Coalition Afghanistan, corrupt officials steal every silver coin upon which they can lay their thieving hands and Mullahs still spout lies that America or the West is trying to crush Islam when, in fact, most of the West could care less about Islam except to the degree that it violently affects our cultures because of their obsessions over Israel, Wahhabism and a new Qaliphate over all of the old Muslim possessions.
I still keep an ear to the ground in Afghanistan as I care very much what happens to that nation and it’s people. I have friends there. I’ve heard rumors that the Taliban, or some factions thereof, are leery about the post-Coalition Afghanistan. These talibs worry over the influences of Iran and Pakistan. They are suspicious of the aims of those two Muslim nations.
However, China is out there to play some role in the post-Coalition Afghanistan. China has invested billions in the region and has a vested interest in a peaceful, non-fundamentalist Afghanistan.
I hope my books creates discussion of some sort . I’d love that. Aside from lining my pockets, it might enlighten a few muddled headed souls about Islam, nation building and the US Coalition among other things. How’s that for naivite’ and arrogance all rolled into one?
There are, of course, many negatives to the story of Afghanistan and our efforts therein. Yet, there are also stories of hope and kindness. There are patriots in that nation that wish for a strong, healthy Afghan Republic that is free of insurgents, Taliban, coalitions, war and violence. Many private citizens work hard in the private arena to bring business to the country and to bring employment and build a strong economy with which Afghanistan can forge ahead.
Within the coalition, as misguided as it may sometimes be, there are many who work hard during their tours of duty in the Stan to leave behind a lasting legacy. Schools are built. Water pumps installed in villages that, theretofore, had no running water. Hospitals are established and staffed. Fire Stations are manned and equipped.
There are many who wish work to halt corruption and to find a way to work for the future.
If these folks are supported and successful, Afghanistan may prevail. May the Gods be with them, comfort them and carry them to a day of promise and fulfillment.
Wazir was one of my little buddies while I was working in Herat, Afghanistan. I played games with him and his siblings and took them candy, toys and clothes from time to time.
They made Afghanistan feel a little bit more like home.
The rules of engagement under which Obama and Petraeus has the American Military operating concedes the unnecessary deaths of Soldiers and Marines in Combat in the hopes that it will make our enemies like us.
Just three months after the raid by Navy SEAL Team VI that killed Osama bin Laden, those same SEALs were in the news yet again–but for an entirely different reason.
On August 6, 2011, while on their way to assist an ongoing mission in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, the CH-47D Chinook helicopter that they were riding in was shot down by an RPG fired by a Taliban fire team approaching their landing zone in Tangi Valley. All 38 American and Afghan service members who were aboard perished, including 17 Navy SEALS, 5 Navy Special Operations support personnel, 3 Air Force Special Tactics Airmen and the five-man Chinook crew, marking the largest loss of life in America’s 11 years of military operations in Afghanistan. Twenty of the twenty-two SEALs and SEAL support were from SEAL Team VI (DEVGRU).
The parents of one of the SEALs killed in the Chinook attack, Special Operations Chief Aaron Vaughn, are raising questions about how the Obama administration has pushed the limits of the military’s Special Operations Forces as part of its war policy (e.g. the Feb. 20th Newsweek story, “Obama’s Secret Army”), and how constrictive “rules of engagement” intended to win the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan people directly contributed to the deaths of all those aboard the helicopter.
Why are we still engaged in Afghanistan? According to many, the people do not want us there. Karzai is making love to the Pakistanis and the Taliban. Essentially, we have conceded the initiative to the enemy.
The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), all of the Ministries, the Parliament and Karzai are corrupt and bent on siphoning off all AID that is supposed to be going to build Afghanistan into a viable Nation.
Why are we still in Afghanistan?
Our enemies hate us. Our allies do not respect us. This is the reality in Afghanistan.
To make matters worse, we are so hellbent on becoming loved by our enemies that we are alienating our so called allies in the region and making no headway with our enemies and it is destroying all of our efforts at nation building.
Why are we still there?
Can anyone tell me why?
We should buy 33 Million of these t-shirts and drop them out C130s as we leave Afghanistan so that the Afghans will know that we thought that they were a complete waste of our time.
People have this strange idea that the whole time that we are in Afghanistan that we are supposed to be automatons with no life. Just being in Afghanistan is stressful. Some folks work 12 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for 4 to 6 months at a time. Then take a 2 week break and are right back at it for another 4 to 6 months. No one can keep that up and stay perfectly sane. That’s why folks risk getting arrested, kidnapped, murdered to have a breather. You lose perspective over there. A beer or a brick of hash (for some) or even a Hershey’s chocolate bar that hasn’t been melted in the mail is gold…it’s a freakin’ break from a different reality. Sometimes, I dreamed of being able to take a piss or take a hot shower without having to walk through 100 feet of snow or freezing rain. I had dreams and fantasized about being able to sit somewhere private and undisturbed. There were some days where I would have paid a thousand dollars for a few hours of privacy wherein I couldn’t hear the people in the next room breathing, snoring, listening to music or having sex.
My cousin asked me a few months back what I thought was a strange question. He asked me how I slept. I was taken aback. I just slept. I couldn’t fathom why he was asking the question. He explained his question. “How can you sleep knowing that at any moment there might be a suicide bomber attacking the gate or a rocket inbound or an attack on the base or even a sniper in the hills?” (Not an exact quote but close enough) I couldn’t explain it. I guess some of us become inured to it all. We adapt psychologically.
The last time that I was scared of dying was in ’91 when Kim, Il Sung died. I was stationed in the DMZ in South Korea at the time. The pappy died. The son (Kim Jung Il) decided to be a dick. Everyone of us who were on that Camp above Freedom Bridge thought we were about to die. We lived with that “knowledge” for about a month before things went back to normal. Since then, fear of death doesn’t enter my frame of thought. When I die, I die. It’ll more than likely be a time and place not of my choosing. That accounts for a lot of my actions. I’ve been close enough to death for it to wink at me and blow a kiss.
That doesn’t mean that I’m brave or think that I’m courageous. I think what it means is that death has become meaningless for me.
A few years back, a Gurkha was kidnapped down in Qandahar. Later, they found the guy. The Taliban had beheaded him and threw his body in the desert.
3 or 4 Gurkhas slipped off the base. Creeped into town, found the guys responsible. They killed all of them and desecrated the bodies. Not entirely sure of the memory on this one but I think they hung some of the bodies from lamp posts or some such.
There was talk that the US Army was going to prosecute but the Brits told the US Army to fuck off and shipped them home.
Good for the Brits and excellent job by the Gurkhas. We needed (STILL DO) more of that in the ‘Stan.
Stories of the Gurkhas are legion. My favourite is the tale of the Gurkha sergeant being told his men would be jumping into enemy territory. He returned next day to say the men would rather jump from below 500ft on to marshy ground. ‘But your parachutes won’t open,’ said the Colonel. ‘Ah,’ said the sergeant. ‘No one mentioned parachutes.’
I had a great and unique experience this morning. I gave a presentation on Afghanistan to a group of 3rd Graders at an International School in Bangkok. There were students from Thailand, China, Korea and America in attendance. Actually, it was two classes as the teacher next door brought her class over for the presentation.
The kids were all great and attentive (for 3rd Graders). I put together a little Powerpoint slide show and brought along a few items that I’d purchased in Afghanistan. My Jam Minaret carpet that COL Barakzai gave me in Chagcharan, a few necklaces, a big piece of Lapis, Afghan coins and bills, two of the knives that I bought at the bazaar on Camp Warehouse and a few other items were on display. I let the kids handle almost everything.
One of the kids was blind and he was probably the most intelligent and inquisitive of the bunch. Of course, the little gals were all adorable.
It was a good day. Hope I can do it again.
It’s finally happened. An American has gone off the deep end in Afghanistan.
This guy wakes up this morning. Puts on some salwar kamees or Man Jams. Man Jams being the colloquial term for the local fashion of the region. They’re called Man Jams because they look like pajamas for men. I own a couple of pair and they are comfortable. This Insane Idiot grabs his rifle and walks off the base. I guess when he woke up this morning, He shit, showered and shaved. Drank a cup of coffee. Then he stood up and thought; “Fuck, I’m gonna go kill me some motherfuckers…” and strolls on off the base.
A few minutes later, he’s in the middle of Panjwayi District. The Dude starts shooting civilians. The rumor is that he may have wounded or killed up to16 victims. One rumor has him walking house to house. Shooting victims in their beds. That’s the nature of war and rumors. Every iteration grows in violence and strangeness. We’ll have to wait for the real story and casualty count. Once he’s finished, he walks back to the base and turns his rifle and himself in and tells his command what he’s done and that he’s crazy. He thinks that he should be sent home. The amazing thing is that he was able to walk off the base, kill several people and walk away unopposed and unnoticed. No one seems to have known that anything was amiss UNTIL this guy tells them what he’s done. No one had a clue. WTF!
Everything is calm. There are no tires burning. No protests or demonstrations of which I am aware despite the photos in the attached media links. I’m sure that most people aren’t even aware of it. Most of the Afghans who are even aware that something occurred probably still think it was a local bandit. The rest of Afghanistan is most certainly clueless about the event entirely.
BUT! The US has released the information on the shooting to the local representatives of the international press. The local press, of course, is printing the news all over the wires and the internets. I’ve seen links from media in Pakistan (of course), Indonesia, the AP, Reuters and several others popping up over the last few hours.
It was insane what this guy did. It was more insane to have released what he did to all points North, South, East and West. This should have been kept on the down low.
This guy opened up the potential for many, many deaths. His actions were onerous. His actions were heinous. He killed innocent people for no reason other than he was mentally imbalanced. Someone should have caught that and that soldier should not have been here.
The one thing that is not really being discussed is that this kid is supposedly from the same unit where two soldiers were killed during the Qu’ran Burning Intifada over the last couple of weeks. I’m sure that is what put the kid over the edge. He’s here trying to make Afghanistan safe. Afghans who are supposed to be our allies are murdering us over a couple of burnt books. Quite a few Coalition Soldiers are angry that Afghans turned on us in such a manner. There’s a lot of mission burn out over the Qu’ran Burning incident. Not because the Qu’rans were burned but because Afghan Soldiers went native and started shooting at us and Civilians were so vocal thanks to the press about Americans “disrespecting Islam.” Most of the Coalition goes out of their way to “respect” Islam. We’ve spent Billions on this place. We’ve shed blood in this place. The Taliban is constantly murdering Afghans and no one bats an eye over it. Americans burn a few copies of the Qu’ran and it’s a mad house. Nah, I doubt that has anything to do with this.
But was it a mad house? Were the demonstrations truly nation wide? What percentage of the population protested and demonstrated? From what I could tell, less than 1% of the population demonstrated over the burnt Qu’rans. That same week of the Qu’ran burnings, I had an Afghan Officer tell me that “we have to pray that the Americans do not leave us.” The press, though, made it seem as though the country was being over run with protestors and demonstrations were being held in every city, town, hamlet, borough and village. The media, of course, lies and sensationalizes to sell advertising space or their agenda.
The US Department of State and the US Department of Defense are equally insane for having released the news of the shooting incident. Lives are at stake here. Not theoretical lives. Real lives. The potential for blood loss from a reaction to this is massive. Of course, the media will sensationalize any reaction. They’ll sit at the Serena Hotel or the Safi Landmark Hotel in their comfy chairs and loveseats and type out little white lies and no one will call them on it.
But! I suppose that if we didn’t release the news in a timely manner, there was no way that we could have sent a swift and appropriately groveling apology for the incident to that thief Hamid Karzai.
The plus side of this, potentially, is that these were people who were killed. Mere humans. Political pawns to be played for sure. They weren’t Qu’rans. Many Afghans probably won’t bat an eyelash. They’re inured to violence unless riled up by the local Mullah with a bone to pick. Especially if it was mostly women who were killed. No proper Afghan cares about the lives of women. Especially if they’re past their breeding prime or if they haven’t squeezed out a few boys by the time they’re seventeen. If they were little girls who were killed, many, if not most, Afghans won’t care much either.
Thankfully, the guy didn’t kill any donkeys or goats. Then we’d have a real problem on our hands.
I’ve seen donkey deaths cause instant mini-riots. I’ve seen Afghans shrug off the death of a little girl like it was a fly that had just been swatted. These two incidents occurred on the Jalalabad Road. Little Girl gets hit by a car. They pulled the body off of the street and carried her away. A donkey got hit and the owner went crazy. The crowd grew dangerous and started throwing objects. Both times, it was the French. They seemed to be prone to these kinds of incidents back in ’05 and ’06.
Since no Qu’rans or livestock were involved, many Afghans will probably give this incident little notice. Of course, the Afghan politicians (THUGS) will use it to soak us for more money and to show their influence by having Obama and the various ISAF Generals break dance with more groveling apologetic acrobats. After all, the Coalition funding at their disposal to embezzle is slowly drying up as we near 2014. The Afghan Parliamentarians, Ministers and Generals need issues like this so they might better fund their retirements.
By MARK STEYN
Say what you like about Afghans, but they’re admirably straightforward. The mobs outside the bases enflamed over the latest Western affront to their exquisitely refined cultural sensitivities couldn’t put it any plainer:
“Die, die, foreigners!”
And foreigners do die. U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Loftis, 44, and Army Maj. Robert Marchanti II, 48, lost their lives not on some mission out on the far horizon in wild tribal lands in the dead of night but in the offices of the Afghan Interior Ministry. In a “secure room” that required a numerical code to access. Gunned down by an Afghan “intelligence officer.” Who then departed the scene of the crime unimpeded by any of his colleagues.
Some news outlets reported the event as a “security breach.” But what exactly was breached? The murderer was by all accounts an employee of the Afghan government, with legitimate rights of access to the building and its secure room, and “liaising” with his U.S. advisers and “mentors” was part of the job. In Afghanistan, foreigners are dying at the hands of the locals who know them best. The Afghans trained by Westerners, paid by Westerners and befriended by Westerners are the ones who have the easiest opportunity to kill them. It is sufficiently non-unusual that the Pentagon, as is the wont with bureaucracies, already has a term for it: “green-on-blue incidents,” in which a uniformed Afghan turns his gun on his Western “allies.”
So we have a convenient label for what’s happening; what we don’t have is a strategy to stop it – other than more money, more “hearts and minds” for people who seem notably lacking in both, and more bulk orders of the bestselling book “Three Cups Of Tea,” an Oprahfied heap of drivel extensively exposed as an utter fraud but which a delusional Washington insists on sticking in the kit bag of its Afghan-bound officer class.
Don’t fancy the tea? A U.S. base in southern Afghanistan was recently stricken by food poisoning due to mysteriously high amounts of chlorine in the coffee. As Navy Capt. John Kirby explained, “We don’t know if it was deliberate or something in the cleaning process.”
Oh, dear. You could chisel that on the tombstones of any number of expeditionary forces over the centuries: “Afghanistan. It’s something in the cleaning process.”
In the past couple of months, two prominent politicians of different nations visiting their troops on the ground have used the same image to me for Western military bases: crusader forts. Behind the fortifications, a mini-West has been built in a cheerless land: There are Coke machines and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Safely back within the gates, a man can climb out of the full RoboCop and stop pretending he enjoys three cups of tea with the duplicitous warlords, drug barons and pederasts who pass for Afghanistan’s ruling class. The visiting Western dignitary is cautiously shuttled through outer and inner perimeters, and reminded that, even here, there are areas he would be ill-advised to venture unaccompanied, and tries to banish memories of his first tour all those years ago when aides still twittered optimistically about the possibility of a photo-op at a girls’ schoolroom in Jalalabad or an Internet start-up in Kabul.
The last crusader fort I visited was Kerak Castle in Jordan a few years ago. It was built in the 1140s, and still impresses today. I doubt there will be any remains of our latter-day fortresses a millennium hence. Six weeks after the last NATO soldier leaves Afghanistan, it will be as if we were never there. Before the election in 2010, the New York Post carried a picture of women registering to vote in Herat, all in identical top-to-toe bright blue burkas, just as they would have looked on Sept. 10, 2001. We came, we saw, we left no trace. America’s longest war will leave nothing behind.
They can breach our security, but we cannot breach theirs – the vast impregnable psychological fortress in which what passes for the Pushtun mind resides. Someone accidentally burned a Quran your pals had already defaced with covert messages? Die, die, foreigners! The president of the United States issues a groveling and characteristically clueless apology for it? Die, die, foreigners! The American friend who has trained you and hired you and paid you has arrived for a meeting? Die, die, foreigners! And those are the Afghans who know us best. To the upcountry village headmen, the fellows descending from the skies in full body armor are as alien as were the space invaders to Americans in the film “Independence Day.”
The Rumsfeld strategy that toppled the Taliban over a decade ago was brilliant and innovative: special forces on horseback using GPS to call in unmanned drones. They will analyze it in staff colleges around the world for decades. But what we ought to be analyzing instead is the sad, aimless, bloated, arthritic, transnationalized folly of what followed. The United States is an historical anomaly: the nonimperial superpower. Colonialism is not in its DNA, and in some ways that speaks well for it, and in other ways, in a hostile and fast-changing world of predators and opportunists, it does not. But even nations of an unimperialist bent have roused themselves to great transformative “cleaning processes” within living memory: The Ottawa Citizen’s David Warren wrote this week that he had “conferred the benefit of the doubt” on “the grand bureaucratic project of ‘nation building’… predicated on post-War successes in Germany and Japan.”
It wasn’t that long ago, was it? Except that, as Warren says, the times are “so utterly changed.” It seems certain that, waging World War II today, the RAF would not carpet-bomb Dresden, and the U.S. would not nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And, lacking the will to inflict massive, total defeat, would we also lack the will to inflict that top-to-toe “cleaning process”?
Ah, well. Kabul is not Berlin or Tokyo. As long as wily mischief-makers are not using it as a base for global mayhem, who cares? To modify Bismarck, the Hindu Kush is not worth the bones of a single Pennsylvanian grenadier, or “training officer.” Afghanistan is about Afghanistan – if you’re Afghan or Pakistani. But, if you’re Russian or Chinese or Iranian or European, Afghanistan is about America. And too much about the Afghan campaign is too emblematic. As much as any bailed-out corporation, the U.S. is “too big to fail”: In Afghanistan as in the stimulus, it was money no object. The combined Western military/aid presence accounts for 98 percent of that benighted land’s GDP. We carpet-bomb with dollar bills; we have the most advanced technology known to man; we have everything except strategic purpose.
That “crusader fort” image has a broader symbolism. The post-American world is arising before our eyes. According to the IMF, China will become the dominant economic power by 2016. Putin is on course to return to the Kremlin corner office. In Tehran, the mullahs nuclearize with impunity. New spheres of influence are being established in North Africa, in Central Europe, in the once-reliably “American lake” of the Pacific. Can America itself be a crusader fort? A fortress secure behind the interminable checkpoints of Code Orange TSA bureaucratic torpor while beyond the moat the mob jeers “Die, die, foreigners”? Or, in the end, will it prove as effortlessly penetrable as the “secure room” of the Afghan Interior Ministry?
Just last week….my mentee told me that “we have to pray that the Americans stay.”
Out of a country of millions, I’d say that less than 10,000 assmonkeys were out there in the Qu’ran protests. Everyone else went about life and really didn’t give a fuck enough to comment on it. lol
We need to step off of this nation building shit. We also need to step off with being world po po and world welfarist/statist.
Let them eat cake…let them eat bullets…I don’t give a fuck.
If we are going to go in and conquer a country, we should do it. We could have conquered Afghanistan with relative ease. We had the power to do so.
We had the tech. We had the Joes. We had the right allies.
Where we fucked up was in giving into the liberal fantasy that a Pushtoon is a modern man with modern affinities for democracy, women’s rights, children’s rights, a love of freedom.
If we were talking Tajiks, Uzbeks…sure, they would make great Democrats.
Pushtoons are illiterate superstitious thugs from the nether regions. We should send a shit load of them there on the way out when we go…but we won’t….Obama is about to hand them the keys with his “good” or “moderate” taliban nonsense.
In the early days of the war, Rashid Doostum offered to clean up Pushtoonistan if we’d arm his personal army and set them loose. We turned him down and then marginalized him. He was our only real ally in Afghanistan, even if he is fucking insane. He’s the only Democratic minded man amongst the Afghans. He famously said, “I don’t understand why girls can’t go to school. I don’t understand why a man can’t have a drink. I don’t understand why we can’t dance and listen to music.” That pretty much sums it up for Afghanistan. We have kowtowed to their religious fanaticism since the beginning and expected it to lessen for our having done so.
We also place a weak chump in the presidency when we had men in place who would have wielded that power with resolution. Doostum for one would have consolidated power and would have re-built Afghanistan instead of stealing every penny proffered. To be sure, Doostum would have enriched himself. He’d simply not have been as greedy as these fucks and he would have been ruthless in putting down his enemies. Instead of crying about civilian casualties, he’d have been inflicting them amongst the Pushtoons.
It would have been bloody but the blood would have been on Afghan hands and not American or coalition.
Karzai was a mistake. Our treatment of Doostum was a mistake. Had it not been for Doostum, would we have been as successful in the early days of the war. We threw numerous allies under the bus in supporting Karzai. Doostum was fighting while Karzai was running for his life. Karzai is a coward. Always was, always will be…
Everyone of these pieces of scheit should be transported to FATA or NWFP, Pakistan and then napalmed.
May they all burn in hell!
If President Obama apologizes one more time, he should be impeached.
When is Hamid Karzai going to apologize for the deaths of our soldiers!!! I won’t hold my breath.
Paper was burned. Paper and ink. That’s all. No one was burning Islam. No one was purposely attempting to offend Islam. Grow up Muslim World.
“There will be moments like this when you’re searching for the meaning of this loss. There will be moments like this when your emotions are governed by anger and a desire to strike back,” Allen said in comments NATO released Friday.
“Now is not the time for revenge. Now is not the time for vengeance. Now is the time to look deep inside your souls, remember your mission, remember your discipline, remember who you are.”
Listen to your leaders Assmonkeys!