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.

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Kabul Map from 1999

kabul Map

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?

Earthquake in Kabul

October 8 2005 ~ Earthquake

Initial take:
I awoke with a start.  My whole damn hooch was shaking so hard that I thought it was going to collapse in on me.   What the fuck was going on?  At first, I thought that someone had screwed up and was trying to airlift my hooch.  Helicopters flew over head all the time.  The helipad was only a few hundred feet away.  In my frenzied state, I imagined that some fool had hooked up the wrong container unit and was trying to airlift me in the middle of the night.  I was a bit intoxicated still, so, you’ll forgive my lapse in judgment.
I ran outside in nothing but my skivvies.  Thank the Gods that I didn’t sleep in the nude.  I didn’t think.  I ran.  Panicked.  I didn’t know what was happening.  Once outside, I gazed into the sky and thought; “Nope!  No helo there.”  That’s when I understood.  It was an earthquake.
It was about four in the morning.  Once I calmed down, I walked back into my hooch.  I knocked on Randy’s door to see if he’d felt it.  Randy was fast asleep.  Oblivious to the tremors and vibrating walls.  I don’t know how long it lasted.  Long enough to freak me out.  That’s all I knew.  Realizing that the danger was over, I racked out again.
The next morning I jumped on Google and read about the massive earthquake hundreds of miles away in Kashmir.  Kabul had been hit but not bad.  Four deaths were recorded.  One little girl had been crushed by a falling wall in her home in Jalalabad.
That was my first earthquake in Afghanistan.  Actually, it was my first earthquake ever.  I thought about the Muslim Extremists.  Every time a natural disaster occurred in the West, they sang God’s glory and waxed poetic about it being God’s punishment for our iniquity.  What would they say about this?  This had been a nearly exclusively Muslim felt natural disaster.  Would it give them pause?  I had no doubt that it would not.  They’d probably use it as another  excuse to hate the West.  It would be God’s punishment brought down upon the Muslim faithful for consorting with the corrupt heathens of the West.

****************************************************

Revised:

I awoke with a start.  My damn hooch was shaking so hard that I thought it was going to collapse in on me.   What the fuck was going on?  At first, I thought that someone had screwed up and was trying to airlift my hooch.  Helicopters flew over head all the time.  The helipad was only a few hundred feet away.  In my frenzied state, I imagined that some fool had hooked up the wrong container unit and was trying to airlift me in the middle of the night.  I was a bit intoxicated still, so, you’ll forgive my lapse in judgment.
I bolted out the door in nothing but my boxers.  Thank the Gods that I didn’t sleep in the nude.  I didn’t think.  I ran.  Panicked.  “What the hell is going on!”   I started waving my arms to warn off the helicopter that was trying to fly off with my home.  After a few dazed seconds running in circles like an idiot, I realized; “Nope!  No helo there.”
“OK, why in the hell is my hooch shaking.”  Then it dawned on me — earthquake.
Once I calmed down, I walked back into my hooch and knocked on Randy’s door to see if he’d felt it.  Randy was fast asleep.  Oblivious to the tremors and vibrating walls.  I don’t know how long it lasted.  Long enough to freak me out.  That’s all I knew.  It was about four in the morning.  The shaking had stopped and I realized that the danger was over.  I racked out again.
The next morning I jumped on Google and read about the massive earthquake hundreds of miles away in Kashmir.  Kabul had been hit but not bad.  Four deaths were recorded.  One little girl had been crushed by a falling wall in her home in Jalalabad.
That was my first earthquake in Afghanistan.  Actually, it was my first earthquake ever.  I thought about the Muslim Extremists.  Every time a natural disaster occurred in the West, they sang God’s glory and waxed poetic about it being God’s punishment for our iniquity.  What would they say about this?  This had been a nearly exclusively Muslim felt natural disaster.  Would it give them pause?  I had no doubt that it would not.  They’d probably use it as another  excuse to hate the West.  It would be God’s punishment brought down upon the Muslim faithful for consorting with the corrupt heathens of the West.

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.

Operation Enduring Freedom — Afghanistan Part 4

These are a set of old photos circa 2003.  A friend gave these to me on a disk that I’ve had in my storage room for about a decade.

This guy traveled all over the country.  Ghazni, Bamian, Bagram, Kabul.  So the photos are scatter shot and I can’t tell for certain where each photo was taken.  Some are obvious.  The Bamian Buddhas or what’s left of them are, of course, in Bamian.  Some of the photos are obviously from Kabul or Bagram.

Well, it’s obvious if you’ve been there.

Enjoy…Dave

 

 

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Operation Enduring Freedom — Afghanistan Part 3

These are a set of old photos circa 2003.  A friend gave these to me on a disk that I’ve had in my storage room for about a decade.

This guy traveled all over the country.  Ghazni, Bamian, Bagram, Kabul.  So the photos are scatter shot and I can’t tell for certain where each photo was taken.  Some are obvious.  The Bamian Buddhas or what’s left of them are, of course, in Bamian.  Some of the photos are obviously from Kabul or Bagram.

Well, it’s obvious if you’ve been there.

Enjoy…Dave

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Operation Enduring Freedom — Afghanistan Part 1

These are a set of old photos circa 2003.  A friend gave these to me on a disk that I’ve had in my storage room for about a decade.

This guy traveled all over the country.  Ghazni, Bamian, Bagram, Kabul.  So the photos are scatter shot and I can’t tell for certain where each photo was taken.  Some are obvious.  The Bamian Buddhas or what’s left of them are, of course, in Bamian.  Some of the photos are obviously from Kabul or Bagram.

Well, it’s obvious if you’ve been there.

Enjoy…Dave

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NO REGRETS

COMING SOON TO A BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU!

The Book is written.  Currently, it is undergoing an editing, validation and revision process.

When I first started writing this book, I thought it would be a difficult process.  I read a couple of hundred biographies, memoirs and other accounts of current events.  I collected my notes.  I wrote down thoughts and ideas.  I attended writing seminars and read books on writing.

When I finally sat down to write, it was a challenge.  First, I didn’t know where to start.  Should I start from the beginning.  Should I write what came to me.  Should I start with what came to mind.

I decided to write “out of order.”  Meaning that I wrote what popped up first.  Later, I put together an outline and started to place the pieces in chronological order.

The Amazing part of writing this book was that once I got into it, the flood gates opened.  I started to remember events and experiences that I’d not thought about in years.

The book is essentially about my years mentoring the Afghan National Police.  How we did it.  What we did.  What went right.  What went wrong.

That didn’t seem enough, though.  I felt that I could not simply start in Afghanistan in 2007.  People would ask; “How did he get there?”  What made him qualified to train Afghan Police?”  “How did he get the job?”  “What was the process by which he was hired?”

I added a preface of sorts.  The years leading up to my being hired to train and mentor Afghans.

After all, these are valid questions.  I was mentoring Senior Afghan Police officials on Logistics processes that would lead to a professionalization of their force.  If….IF we did it right.

And that’s what the book is about.

Everything that went down.  Who I trained.  How they accepted that training.  Corruption.  Murder.  Violence.  Kidnapping and Ransom.  Brigands and Fiends.  Friendship and Laughter.  Rockets and Bombs.  Scandals.   The people and places.  The life and “adventures” of working  with the Afghan National Police.

I’ll start shopping the book to Agents in mid-November.  But if anyone reads this and is interested, please do not hesitate to drop an inquiry.

 

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“the free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”
Charles Bukowski, Tales of Ordinary Madness

The road to truth is long, and lined the entire way with annoying bastards

I love you when you bow in your mosque,
kneel in your temple,
pray in your church.
For you and I are sons of one religion,
and it is the spirit.

Kahlil Gibran

Sex in the War Zone

Prostitution wasn’t rampant on the bases in Afghanistan.  It was there, though.  The running joke was the “Thirty Five Dollar Haircut.”  The Army and Air Force Exchange Service or AAFES (Ay-feez) ran a Beauty Salon at the Post Exchange (PX) complex on Bagram Airfield (BAF).  All of the girls who worked there were from Bishkek or Karshi Khanabad in the Kyrgyz Republic.  Some of them were beautiful.  You could get a haircut, a manicure, pedicure or a massage.  For a month or so in early 2004, you could get a blow job.  All you had to do was walk in and ask for the 35$ hair cut.  Of course, it was illegal.  As soon as they caught the girls, they fired them and sent them home.

At about the same time, the Army caught a young, pretty Airman selling it for fifty bucks a pop.  This girl was caught in an affair with a married guy.  He found out about some extracurricular activities of hers and he wasn’t happy.  She was prostituting herself out. These two had a knock down drag out fight over it.  The Chain of Command got wind of it and investigated.  When the affair was revealed, they sent the couple home for a court martial proceeding.  Instead of letting the couple pack their bags, they sent them straight to the flight line.  The female Airman kept demanding to be allowed to go back to her hooch to grab her “personal gear.”  She was so insistent that her Chain of Command went to her room and conducted a search.  In Afghanistan, the authorities do not need a search warrant.  There’s no due process.  You’re already in prison.  They can pretty much do as they please.  While searching her room, they found her “personal gear.”  Under her mattress in a package was over fifteen thousand dollars.  They also found several boxes of condoms.  It was mostly fifty dollar bills.  This gal had only been there for three months and had amassed fifteen thousand dollars.  Fifty bucks at a time.  You do the math.

It took a while for the Army to finish it’s investigation on this Airman.  When they finished, the story came out on the operation.  This girl actually advertised through her customers.  She would leave a sock outside her door.  If the sock was on the door, she was busy with someone.  No sock and you simply knocked, walked in and handed her fifty bucks.  She was doing everyone — Marines, Soldiers, Enlisted, Officers, Contractors.  If you could come up with fifty bucks, it was on.  I was told that there were lines outside her door at times.  How in the hell did that go on for three months with no one noticing?

In 2006, I was living on Camp Phoenix.  At the time, I worked for ManTech Inc.  I would go to the Beauty Salon once a week to get a massage.  I always got the same girl because the others were too brutal.  One week, I show up and my girl isn’t there.  So I ask Oksana, the manager, where she was.  Oksana tells me that she had to send her home.  When I asked why, she wouldn’t tell me.  I thought that was funny but no big deal.

Later that day, I found out what happened.  About two weeks earlier, there was a chlymidia epidemic.  Some guy had brought it back from his leave.  He went to the medical station to get it fixed. A few days later, a couple of guys came in with the same problem.  Later, more still came in.  Then the girls started showing up.  All of them with chylimida.  I think they may have had gonorrhea as well.

The Army decided to investigate the mini-outbreak.  They discovered that the girls who worked at the beauty salon were prostituting.  I don’t know how much it was, but, it was all going well until that one guy brought back his STDs and passed them on to one of the girls.  It spread like wildfire from that point.

Apparently, none of these guys or gals had discovered the benefits of condoms.  I’m sure that there were more involved.  The guys who came in for STDs were all disciplined under the UCMJ.  The girls were all sent back home.  The beauty salon hired new girls.

After that incident, the Army made the beauty salon girls move to a safe house Kabul.  None of them could live on the bases in or around Kabul anymore.

Here’s some irony for ya.  General Order #1 prohibits sexual intercourse in the war zone.  Yet, every PX on every base in Afghanistan is always stocked with condoms.   Huh?

***I am not saying that all Kyrgyz women are prostitutes or whores.  That was simply the nationality of the girls in these particular incidents.***

American “Soldier” Murders Civilians in Southern Afghanistan

Salway Kamees or Man Jams

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.

Geo-Politics: Change the Dynamic ~ Offer Incentive

If I were President…

1.  We get less than 20% of our oil from the Middle East.  I’d halt this immediately.

2.  That oil shortfall would be sourced from our own reserves and Canada.  I’d even throw a bone to Venezuela in exchange for their withdrawal from OPEC.

3.  I’d close all bases in the Middle East.

4.  I’d place a base in Israel and Egypt.  Keep the base in Turkey.

5.  I’d tell Egypt and Turkey that they have choice.  Either they’re with the West or their with the Muslim world.  If they decide that they’re with the Muslim World, then we withdraw all support and all bases from those countries.

6.  I’d tell Europe and Asia that America is no longer responsible and will no longer take action in the Middle East except in the case of defense of our allies.

7.  The Allies in the Middle East would be designated as Israel because they are a Democracy as well as Egypt, Turkey and Jordan.

8.  Our alliance with Egypt, Turkey and Jordan would be predicated upon Democratic reforms and their renunciation of a foreign policy based upon Islamic Internationalism.  These countries can keep their Islamic Nationalism, if they chose to do so.  That choice would mean our pulling all resources and support from their nations.

9.  Support of Jordan and Egypt would also be predicated upon an agreement to assimilation all Palestinian refugees.  All refugee camps would have to be closed down.  Those refugees would have to be given full rights in the countries in which they are located.  The US would assist with funding for housing and job training for these refugees at 50% of the cost.  This Aid Package would be closely guided by a contractual auditor to ensure that the monies were being used to build infrastructure and not lining the pockets of corrupt officials.  If bribes are insisted upon, funding would be withdrawn.

10.  Continued support of Israel would be predicated upon a real peace plan with the Palestinians.

a.  Israel would either permanently partition the West Bank and Gaza as sovereign nations and pull out completely leaving the Palestinians to their own fate.

or

b.  Israel would annex the Palestinian areas and alter their constitution making Israel an officially and legally secular nation.  Part of that constitutional reconstruction would be safeguards for all religions, creeds, ethnicities from persecution, etc.

There would be a ten year time frame to effect these changes with specific milestones in place.  If these milestones are not met, we would pull all support for any or all of these nations.

We would offer the new Palestine Nation, if created, a package of aid in return for a turning away from Islamism.  The US would provide financial and expert support in building a nation from the ground up.  A referendum from the Palestinian people would be required to receive this Aid Package.  In essence, the Palestinian people would be required to request it via said referendum and the leaders of Hamas, Fatah as well as members of any other quasi-governmental group recognized by the people.  If the people did not vote for our assistance, the offer would be withdrawn.  This Aid Package would also be closely guided by a contractual auditor to ensure that the monies were being used to build infrastructure and not lining the pockets of corrupt officials.  If bribes are insisted upon, funding would be withdrawn.
The onus would then be on these nations.  If they decided to go along with us, they would have our support.  If not, we would withdraw from them and leave them to their collective  fates.

I would have these treaties ratified by the US Congress and the United Nations.

There would be no military solutions offered.  Either they come on line with us or we no longer have a reason to be associated with them.  End of discussion.

As for the Gulf and their oil, that would be the responsibility of whomever wishes to continue to purchase oil from those nations.  China, France, Germany…whomever it may be.

We would continue to patrol the ocean lanes for support of international trade.  The Straits of Hormuz — no longer our problem.  Saudi Arabia — keep with your Wahhabism/Salafism on your own shores or risk offending more nations.

Egypt seems to be progressing towards Democracy.  This surprised me as I thought that the Muslim Brotherhood would take them in the direction of Islamic Sharia.  This is a positive development.  Jordan would need to step away from Monarchy and join the rest of the world in Democratic reforms.

Over the short term, these initiatives would seem expensive.  Over the long term, these initiatives would save America and the Globe much in terms of blood and treasure.

This would be my solution.

In effect, we would be saying; “Join the World and we will support you.  Remain in the Dark Ages and we will abandon you.”

I want out of the business of supporting corrupt and/or stubborn regimes.  Whether that regime be Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Western Europe.

The next thing that I would do would be to withdraw all forces from Europe.  The only way we would keep US troops stationed in Europe would be if at least 50% of the costs were funded by the country that wished for us to be there.  All real estate used by the forces stationed in those countries would need to be loaned permanently at a cost free basis for the duration of the deployment to that country.  A Status of Forces Agreement would have to be met whereby our Servicemembers would be subject to US Law and the UCMJ only while in country.  All services for our Servicemembers would be provided without interference by the United States.  All Servicemembers would be on a Tax Free Status in that country.  That nation would also have to be a member in good standing of the Democratic Nations of the World.

If they are not willing to do this.  No problem.  We will simply not have a need to act in defense of their Nation.

I would also pull out of South Korea.  On the way out, I’d tell China that if North Korea attacks, we would bomb the North into the dark ages.  That would be my final and only dealing with North Korea.  If the people of the North are too brainwashed, too stupid or too weak to fight for change, this is not the problem of the United States of America.  Let China feed North Korea or South Korea if that be their desire.

I would pull all of our forces out of Japan.  Japan doesn’t need us there and many of the people don’t want us there.  Next, I would enter a treaty with the Philippines wherein we purchase land from them to station our Pacific Forces.   I would base a Marine Expeditionary Unit and an Army Mechanized Infantry/Stryker Division there along with a Carrier Fleet being on Station at all times.

China would be warned that Japan is still our ally.  Taiwan would be told to work out their differences with China.  If China became bellicose and threatened invasion, we would act in defense of Taiwan.  Unless the threat is based on Taiwanese provocation.  In that case, Taiwan is on their own.

I would also make an alliance of mutual support with India.  Our Armed Forces would conduct joint operations/exercises with India.  If possible, I would allow for a treaty whereby US Forces would be permanently stationed in Southern India.  This would hinge upon Indian acquiescence on the Kashmir debate.

I would withdraw all forces and support from Pakistan and Afghanistan.  If Pakistan wanted our support, they would have to oust the Saudi Wahhabis and the Deobandi.  Pakistan would also be required to sweep the FATA and NWFP of taliban influences.  They would also be required to withdraw from the Kashmir debate.  This would be the price of assistance from the US.  No debate.  No equivocation.  If they want our support, they give up their dispute with India over Kashmir and halt support of all terrorism directed towards India.

India and Kashmir would be required to allow a full vote by the Kashmiri people.  1.  Independence  2.  Annexation by Pakistan  3.  Retention by India

International Election Officials would oversee the vote.  Any monkey business by either side and no deal.  Kashmir should be able to decide it’s fate.  Their fate should not be decided by Muslim terrorists or Indian Soldiers.

We would withdraw all support from Pakistan if this is not followed through to completion.   With regards to India, we go to a neutral stance.  India has no need of our support.  They’re a viable nation in their own right.

Aside from moving away from the Defense of Europe, I would do nothing in Europe.  They’re sovereign nations that can navigate their way through the world in their own rite.  We should not be providing defense for them unless they are willing to subsidize it.

On patrolling the commercial sea lanes, I would require that other nations either subsidize fleet operations or provide support in the form of personnel and equipment.  Either that or we protect only US shipping.

It’s time for the free ride to end.  The Nations of the World (especially Europe) have enjoyed peace at the expense of the American tax payer for far too long.  They decry our every move.  It’s time for them to step up.  The World doesn’t want Team America — World Police or so they say.  Let them have their desire.

These actions would save American Tax dollars.  They would remove us from the Middle East conflicts.  They would place the onus on other nations to conduct their own defense and improve the lot of their own citizenry.

After these offers, blame for the sorry affairs of the world could no longer be placed at the feet of America.  The primary sources of conflict would have been given a viable alternative.  If they chose the path to peace, it would be with our leadership.  If they chose the path to war, it would be at their own behest.  The blame would lie with themselves.

Another thing that I think would be a positive is for an exchange program wherein a Battalion of another Nations forces would be given the opportunity to come to Fort Irwin, Texas to train with US Forces.  I’d rotate the Nation on a regular basis.  6 Month rotations.  This would be a tremendous opportunity for our Armed Forces and theirs.  I’d offer this opportunity to India, Romania, South Korea, Hungary, Egypt, Russia, Thailand, Iraq, Jordan, Israel and other Nations with whom we would engage in treaties of mutual defense or with whom we wish to improve relations.

The last item on my agenda would be reforming the UN.  That, though, is a whole other post.

That would keep us from any more of this:

Along with legislation mandating a Declaration of War in order to commit forces to a Ground Invasion of another country.  I have no problem with bombing a perpetrating country into the stone ages.  If there are viable targets.  I would also work to repeal the prohibition against assassination of World Leaders.  We could have saved a lot of money and lives by simply putting a .99$ bullet through the forehead of Saddam Hussein.  We could save a bit more by spreading about 200 USD worth of lead throughout the Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian power structures.

ANA Combat UK Patch

I had these made out of an Afghan National Army Combat Uniform.  I don’t know why.  Sometimes, ya just do what ya do.

If I thought he’d get it, I’d send one to MKG.

1. I’D TAKE MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST OVER ANY PLAYER IN AMERICA

Some people told me I was crazy when I made that statement prior to Kentucky’s win over Louisville on Saturday but when you watch “MKG” play, it’s tough not to see why he’s more valuable than anyone else in college basketball. Whether it’s a tip in on the offensive glass or a taking a charge in the paint, everything Kidd-Gilchrist does affects one thing — winning. In the Wildcats 69-62 win over the Cardinals on Saturday, the freshman wing tallied 24 points and 19 rebounds while shining brighter than any other player in a game that was loaded with star power. It’s amazing to think that John Calipari welcomed back three starters from last year’s team that reached the Final Four last season in Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, and Darius Miller and Kentucky’s two best players are two freshmen — Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis.

It’s not Afghanistan.

“If you stand back,” said one American who is in the thick of the American strategy-making, “and say, by the year 2020, you’ve got two countries — 30 million people in this country, 200 million people with nuclear weapons in this country, American troops in neither. Which matters? It’s not Afghanistan.”

This article is a primer on the future of the region.  It’s a must read, if you want to understand the future of American relations in this region.

Special attention to Pakistani views of the Afghan National Security Forces.

Ain’t Afraid to Die

I ain’t afraid to die.  Don’t wanna live forever

9to 5 don’t appeal to me.  Don’t want life in a suburban trap

Out in the wildlands life just feels more vital.

Afghanistan

Cambodia

Bangkok and Saigon

Eternity ain’t no desk and damn sure ain’t no corporate bonus

I don’t want to live forever, though, ain’t in no rush to die

Don’t want a walker.  No wheelchair or hospital bed for me at 80.

I’d rather go out in a blast.  I’ll take the bang at the end of the day.

America, the land of drones.  Slaving away for a corporate buck.

That life ain’t no way to live.  Security, the tool of enslavement.

Homeland insecurity is the key.

I don’t wanna live forever nor do I want to be a slave.

I’d rather live and die.

 

Afghan Calender YR 1390 (2011-2012) & Afghan Holidays

afghanCalendar1390_A3std_history_DA_EN_AF_US

 

Afghan holidays

Public holidays:

These holidays are defined in article 18 of the Afghan constitution from 2004. The holidays occur on a fixed dates and are celebrated in all Afghanistan.

  • Juma (Friday):
    The week ends on Friday (Juma) which is the day of rest.
  • Jeshen (Independence day): 28th Asad = 19th August (18th August in leap years)
    The 28th of Asad (19th of August, in leap years 18th August) is the national holiday. Remembering that Afghanistan got its independence in 1919 after the end of the 3th Anglo-Afghan war.
  • Victory Day: 8th Saur = 28th April (27th April in leap years)
    The 8th Saur (28th April, in leap years 27th March) remembers the fall of the pro-soviet regime in 1992.

Religious holidays:

Besides the holidays above the following holidays are also celebrated partly.

* The islamic holidays depend on the Hejrah-e qamari calendar. The dates are observed by autorities rather than pre-computed. The exact dates may vary according to the sighting of the moon.

  • Ashura: 10th Muharram*
    Ashura is an Arabic word meaning “ten”. It is celebrated on the 10th day of the Hejrah-e qamari month Muharram. It is the day that the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Husayn, was killed at the battle of Kerbala.
  • Mawleed al-Nabi (Prophet’s birthday): 12th Rabi al-Awal*
    It is celebrated on the 12th day of the Hejrah-e qamari month Rabi’ al-Awal. On this day the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad is celebrated.
  • Awal Ramadan (First of Ramadan): 1st Ramadan*
    This holiday is celebrated at the 1st of the Hejrah-e qamari month Ramadan. It marks the beginning of the fasting month Ramadan.
  • Laylat al-Qaddr (Night of Measure): ≈ 27th Ramadan*
    Muslims believe that it was on this night that God has first send down the first verses of the Quran via the angel Gabriel to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It is also the anniversary of the night in which the Quran was first communicated in its entirety to Muhammad. The Quran (sura Al’Qadr) regards this night better than one thousand months.
    There is a uncertainty about the exact date. It is believed that the night is in the last third of the Hejrah-e qamari month Ramadan. The most likely date is the night of the 27th (e.g. night from 26th to 27th) of Ramadan.
  • Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramazan): 1st Shawwal*
    Eid is the arabic word for feast. The holiday is celebrated at the end of Ramadan, at the 1st of the Hejrah-e qamari month Shawwal. Celebrations extend up to three days.
  • Arafat: 9th Zul al-Hijjah*
    On the mountain of Arafat also known as Jabal ar-Rahmah (Mountain of Mercy) the Islamic prophet Muhammad delivered his farewell sermon at the end of his life. Arafat is celebrated one day before Eid al-Adha (Festival of sacrifice) on the 9th of the Hejrah-e qamari month Zul al-Hijjah.
  • Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Qurban (Festival of Sacrifice): 10th Zul al-Hijjah*
    This festival commemorates the prophet Abraham’s devotion to God. Celebrations extend up to three days.

Other holidays:

  • Nauruz (New Year): 1st Hammal = 21st March (20th March in leap years)
    The Hejrah-e shamsi year starts on 1st Hammal (21st March, in leap years 20th March), which is the New year’s day (Nauruz). Nauruz is celebrated all over in Afghanistan. This holiday occurs on a fixed date.

Credit goes to ——————— 

Did BushCo allow bin Laden to Succeed?

Recently, a question was asked:  “Do you really believe what you are saying or do you think FDR and Bush were begging and pleading for Japan and Bin Laden to attack us so we could enter a war? Seriously?”

On the question of Japan, undoubtedly FDR was courting an attack as justification for entering the War in Europa. Anyone who has read the history of the build up to World War II knows that FDR was looking for a way to get the American people on a war footing. Embargoes are a mother!

As for bin Laden. BushCo were strangely oblivious of bin Laden prior to 9-11. I do not put it past the Gov’t and especially one guided by the likes of Cheney and Rummy to allow an attack to occur so as to “lead” the nation to war.

Why did we NEED to go to Iraq? The answer is that we DID NOT. Yet, 9-11 and the GWOT were used as an excuse to take us into that war. They definitely “shaded the truth” to get the war that they wanted.

The Spanish American War was yet another contrived war as was the Mexican War and the Vietnam War. When one looks at the Korean War, it is a war into which we either secretly goaded North Korea or into which Truman simply blundered like a blind fool.

American spheres of influence were stated loudly to the World. South Korea lay JUUUUUUUSSSSSST outside of the line. Leading NK, China and the USSR to believe that we’d stand by and do nothing.

From the internet:

In June 1950, after Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared Korea to be outside of America’s sphere of influence, the North Koreans invaded South Korea and attempted to reunify the country under communist rule. President Truman immediately declared Korea a “global police action” and attempted to drive the North Koreans out of South Korea. In fact, the United States secret larger goal in the Korean war was to defeat North Korean communism and create a unified Korea under American domination and control. Korea was supposed to be the first major effort to rollback global communism. However, communist China, feeling threatened that aggressive American actions against North Korea would be followed by American attempts to undermine Chinese communism, entered the Korean war against the United States and its South Korean ally. The Korea war quickly proved to be a deadly stalemate between the United States and communist China. Only in 1953, after President Eisenhower secretly threatened to drop atomic bombs on China, did the Chinese agree to an end to the war, leaving North and South Korea divided just as they were at the beginning of the war.

The Korean war, as many American leader later said, seem to justify America’s global crusade against Soviet communism. It convinced many Americans of the truth of the United States governments warning that the Soviet were plotting to take over the world and impose communist domination over the free world. The Korean war would further justify American creation of the “nuclear umbrella” to shield the free world from Soviet expansion. As described by Secretary of State Dean Acheson in 1949, the nuclear umbrella was the American threat to wage nuclear war against the Soviet Union if the communists threatened any country in the free world. An attack on any member of the free world, thus, would be treated as an attack against the United States, which would lead America to wage nuclear war against the aggressor.

Also, Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman: mission and power in American foreign policy By Anne Rice Pierce PG 248 (Google Books)

As well as the following:


After World War II, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. divided Korea into spheres of influence—the Soviets backed Communist-ruled North Korea and the U.S. backed the South Korean dictatorship. Both Koreas had threatened to invade the other. When U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared that South Korea was no longer part of the U.S. defense perimeter in Asia, the North invaded the South.

Do I think that a US President and/or the US Political and Military Leadership are capable of allowing an attack or incident to happen so as to lead us into war? Definitely.  It’s been done several times.

REMEMBER THE ALAMO!

REMEMBER THE MAINE!

REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR!

9-11! NEVER AGAIN!

THE LUSITAINE!

FORT SUMTER! (As Lincoln stated; “The North must not be seen as the aggressor.)

The Tonkin Gulf Incident

Leaving the Koreas outside of our “sphere of influence.”

What did Madame Ambassador say to Saddam Hussein when he asked how the US would view aggression against Kuwait?

Known faulty intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq in ’03.

The War of 1812 and lust for Canada.

Hawaii, the US Marines and Dole Fruit

Gautamala and United Fruit

Nicaragua/Panama ~ We needed a Canal passage.

Pinochet ~ Nixon and Henry Kissinger

Nixon, Cambodia and Laos

Fire on Jalalabad Road

Big Fire on Jalalabad Road. A Benzine (that’s gas for my American friends) truck overturned and BOOM!!! Up in flames. It was a helluva fire. I swear it was like 30 to 40 feet in the air and spread at least twice on the ground. Burned for a good couple of hours before they got it under control.

Casualties of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

Scenes like this are ubiquitous in Afghanistan.  Old shells of Soviet Armor and Trucks.  Every type of Soviet Equipment can be found out there.  Aircraft down at Bagram.  Personal and Crew Served Weapons of various sorts are everywhere.  Bridging equipment.  Soviet Armor and Personnel Carriers.  Soviet Mobile Kitchen Trailers.  Everything needed to field an invasion.  The Soviets left much behind when they hightailed their sorry asses back across the Amu Darya in ’88 or ’89.

Now it’s all rusting out on Afghan Bases, outside the Herat Airport and across the highways and byways of the country.