One of the bigger problems in the Stan is continuity. The Military come and go with a frequency that is mind numbing.
Liberals, Leftists, Conservatives, Neo-Cons, Neo-Liberals, Islamists, Pan-Islamists and everyone else concerned keep speaking of a long awaited Islamic Reformation.
Actually, that Reformation has already began and is ongoing. Except that Islam is going from a slumbering megalith to an extremist controlled ideology.Islam began a long sleep sometime in the 1700-1800 era. It went near comatose after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Two things occurred to awaken Islam:
Conflict in the Middle East predates Islam by thousands of years. This region is a crossroads of history. Traditions of hate, violence and war date back to before the Greeks and Persians to the earliest stories of the pre-Phoenician peoples. Expecting “Peace in the Middle East” One may as well search for the burial place of Genghis Khan. Find one; you may find the other.
None of this is to say that the United States or Britain is to blame for Islamic Extremism. Islam was born in blood. It will die in blood. Islam was spread via conquest. Muslims and Liberals love to deny this. However, the Islamic Empire spread from Medina to Andalusia (Spain) in an amazingly short period of time. None of these territories invited Mohammad, Abu Bakr or Uthman into their lands. Islam did not quietly knock and ask for admittance. Islam rode at the head of a world devouring empire. People “submitted” to Allah not because they suddenly saw the light. They converted or “reverted” because it was the prudent thing to do. If you were given the choice between conversion, death or high taxes and second/third class citizenship in your own lands, most would choose to convert.
Islam is a violent Abrahamic religion. All three of the religions spawned by Abraham are violent and full of blood lust — Xtianity, Judaism and Islam.
The Extremist Muslims are following the path of previous Muslims including that of Mohammad. Denial of this is denial of historic reality.
Islam is violent. It also knows peace. However, like Xtianity, the majority of the religions is about purifying the world and making it ready for God/Allah via force.
Same God, same violence, same hatred for the non-believer. Muslims choose which path to follow. Those who choose violence choose that path regardless of outside influence. They would choose that path even if the US and Britain had never existed as neither existed when the Islamic Empire first invaded Europe, Africa and Asia.
“We have a common task, Afghanistan, the United States of America, and the civilized world, to launch a joint struggle against fundamentalism,” Najibullah told the Times, and “described what he thought would happen to his country if Islamic extremists took power in Kabul.”
“If fundamentalism comes to Afghanistan, war will continue for many more years,” Najibullah said. “Afghanistan will turn into a center of world smuggling for narcotic drugs. Afghanistan will be turned into a center for terrorism.”
President Najibullah, Afghanistan, 1989
and it only took three years…
The Young British Soldier
When the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East 'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast, An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier. Serve, serve, serve as a soldier, Serve, serve, serve as a soldier, Serve, serve, serve as a soldier, So-oldier OF the Queen! Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day, You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay, An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may: A soldier what's fit for a soldier. Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . . First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts, For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts -- Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts -- An' it's bad for the young British soldier. Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . . When the cholera comes -- as it will past a doubt -- Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout, For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out, An' it crumples the young British soldier. Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . . But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead: You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said: If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead, An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier. Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . . If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind, Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind; Be handy and civil, and then you will find That it's beer for the young British soldier. Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . . Now, if you must marry, take care she is old -- A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told, For beauty won't help if your rations is cold, Nor love ain't enough for a soldier. 'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . . If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath To shoot when you catch 'em -- you'll swing, on my oath! -- Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er: that's Hell for them both, An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier. Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . . When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck, Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck, Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck And march to your front like a soldier. Front, front, front like a soldier . . . When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch, Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch; She's human as you are -- you treat her as sich, An' she'll fight for the young British soldier. Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . . When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine, The guns o' the enemy wheel into line, Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine, For noise never startles the soldier. Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . . If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white, Remember it's ruin to run from a fight: So take open order, lie down, and sit tight, And wait for supports like a soldier. Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . . When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier. Go, go, go like a soldier, Go, go, go like a soldier, Go, go, go like a soldier, So-oldier of the Queen!
No Regrets: An American Adventure in Afghanistan on Amazon Kindle
Marijuana, like alcohol, is neither inherently good nor evil. It is a substance that occurs in nature. If abused, it can harm. If not, there are actually healthful properties and benefits to those who use it. Marijuana, on the whole, is much less harmful than alcohol and other “drugs.”
One person’s weakness should not negatively affect the lives of others. The weakness of some should not be justification for the use of force or tyranny of the State.
America must ask itself. Is the prohibition of a plant which grows wild in nature worth the Billions of dollars invested? Is prohibition of marijuana worth the lives damaged and destroyed? Is marijuana prohibition more important than the proven medical benefits of marijuana?
The Government of the United States of America has waged a war of lies against the American People for well over 100 years in this War On Drugs. Marijuana and Hemp have hundreds of possible applications that would be beneficial to Americans and the American Economy. Ending the War On Drugs, or at least the marijuana portion of it, would save the American Tax Payer Billions of Dollars.
Why, knowing all of this, would we continue to support a War On Drugs that has truly only been a War on American Liberty and the American People?
Think about this America.
Insanity is occurring at this moment.
An Afghan acquaintance has “kidnapped” a young women and run off with her. I don’t think she was kidnapped so much as they have simply decided that they can’t live without each other and absconded away with one another…for the sake of their youthful, idealized, idyllic love.
Much to the consternation of his family and friends. He has also caused some turmoil for some folks who have helped him out along the way here in the Stan. His father may have faked a heart attack to escape the scene that now evolves and has situated himself in a hotel in Kabul. That may be the “Ariana Hotel.” His father may have had an actual heart attack or episode from the stress of tonight’s events. I’m not sure.
I called one of my acquaintances cell numbers only to reach his family. Specifically his father…who did not sound healthy at all. The father gave his phone to his young son who spoke English quite well. I asked after my young friend. Little Brother excitedly replied; “Wahid not come home after work. We looking for Wahid. If Wahid call you…you tell us.”
Little Brother is who informed me of their location – the Ariana Hotel.
As of this moment, this young man and his lady friend are on the run. Being that this is Afghanistan and his family SEEMS to have connections, I fear more for the safety and welfare of this young woman.
In Kabul and Herat, there are Women’s Prisons which hold many young Afghan ladies who were guilty of nothing more than being in love and running off with a young fellow. These women are usually found guilty of the idiotic “Crimes Against Chastity” and/or “bewitching young men and forcing immorality upon them.”
I’m sure the young man will get his hand slapped and little else. I fear that, if they are found or return of their own volition, the young girl is going to wind up in Kabul Women’s Prison.
There is another unfortunate twist to this.
The young lady in question is supposedly pregnant. The Father allegedly being my young acquaintance. Supposedly, they’ve “run off to Qandahar.” I’ve tried to contact him to talk some sense into him. Alas, my efforts bear no fruit.
Sounds like something out of a crime novel, does it not.
I hope everything works out. I fear it will not.
The other twist to this is Sharia law combined with Afghan customs. The oft discussed Pashtunwali has another side to it’s code of hospitality. It is a code of revenge. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Blood for blood.
If Wahid has either kidnapped this young lady. He will owe a blood debt for he has dishonored the family of the young lady. Wahid’s actions have humiliated this young woman’s family. That stain upon their family honor will exist until they have extracted a measure of satisfaction. This can be paid in blood or gold. The family might even demand female siblings of Wahid’s family as a means of settling this dispute. If the debt is not paid in gold or women, blood will be demanded. They will hunt Wahid. They may even avenge their “honor” by murdering or kidnapping members of his family.
Badal –may be understood as vengeance, revenge or justice. It requires violent reaction to a death, injury or insult. Advances on one’s zan, [ZAHN] zar [ZAHR] or zamin [ZAH-meen] (“women,” “wealth,” or “land”) are the most common offenses requiring revenge. The only acceptable defense of honor is revenge, equal to but not exceeding the original insult. Avenging an insult to a woman’s sexual purity is particularly important.
Worse than this is the fact that every 6 months, each organization stops what they are doing, looks around and heads in a different direction. About every 18 months, the cycle of stupidity circles back around to exactly the same priorities and organizational structure as before.
The United State Army reinvents the wheel in Afghanistan on average every 18 months. The State Department has their own wheels that they keep re-inventing as well.
And no one communicates with anyone else.
The only continuity has been the contractors who have been there, done that, seen it all. Contractors are exactly the last people whom any United States organization would ask for advice, assistance or guidance. This is so despite continuity being the exact reason for which Contractors are hired. Most Contractors work closely with the US Military and State Department. Even so, when it comes to major decisions, the way ahead or guidance, Contractors are usually the very last persons whom the US Military will seek out for input.
It is amazing. I’ve seen the same programs attempted and failed at least three times each.
And still the worm turns…It is almost as if we want to fail.
Bergdahl is exactly what irks me about many of our young people today. They want all of the benefits without any of the responsibilities. Bergdahl signed a contract.
I don’t believe he should be put to death for desertion.
However, his desertion caused others to be placed in harms way and to die. He may well have caused harm to come to other Americans by divulging information to the taliban.
If his actions caused the deaths of American citizens, should he not be given the same fate? If he caused the taliban to be able to kill Americans by his actions, should he pay no price for that crime.
I don’t care how troubled he was with the war in Afghanistan or some of his fellow Americans. If his desertion and subsequent actions caused Americans to die, should he not be punished?
If I caused your son or daughter to be killed through my willful, negligent actions would you simply forgive me?
I’m not going to call this guy a coward. I believe it took courage to walk off of the FOB and into the unknown that is the Afghan countryside. I know. I’ve been out there.
That said, his actions were selfish. His actions were negligent. He had moral reservations. He should have taken them up the chain of command. I’ve called folks out in Afghanistan for their treatment of the Afghans. I’ve called folks out for their attitudes towards the Afghans.
Bottom line is that Bowe Bergdahl signed a contract. He was fine with benefiting from said contract. When it came time to fulfill his side of the bargain, he balked. The military is not like other jobs. The consequences can and often times are more serious than working at McDonald’s, Google, GE or Best Buy. An individuals decisions can affect the lives of many.
Bergdahl’s actions likely caused the deaths of several Americans. Bergdahl’s actions caused Obama to make decisions on an international level in releasing 5 taliban ranking personnel who may murder more Americans, Afghans and others.
Is Bergdahl somehow above consequences?
Agree or disagree with the Afghan War, it matters not. Bergdahl’s actions have consequences. That weight is heavy. There is a price to pay for such actions and for the consequences of said actions.
The United States of America is known around the world as AMERICA.
There is a country called America and you, dear Citizen of the United States, live in it.
That you, dear reader, personally, choose to refer to it in your preferred PC choice of wording does not negate the fact that America is a known entity.
Semantics and pedantry.
The correct term for a Citizen of America would be and is U.S. Citizen. The country is known colloquially as AMERICA.
Yes, it has much to do with one’s political bent. Only politically correct Americans who tow the Liberal Party line want to say that AMERICA is the incorrect manner to which one should refer to this country.
The citizens of the United Soviet Socialist Republic did not refer to themselves as United Soviets. The People of the Democratic Republic of China do not refer to themselves as Democratic Republicans. The people of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan do not refer to themselves as Islamic Republicans. Each respectively referred to themselves as Russians, Chinese and Afghans.
Mexico is the Republic of Mexico. People from Mexico are called Mexican. Canada is the, as far as I can tell, simply called Canada. Folks from Canada are called Canadians. It’s not difficult to follow this. If Canadians and Mexicans wish to call themselves America because they hail from the Americas, good for them. I have no problem with this. It would confuse the hell out of everyone and they’d spend half of their time explaining that they are Mexicans from the Americas and, therefore, Mexicans who are Americans or Americans who are Mexicans. However, that would be their prerogative and I’d not be concerned about it.
I refer to myself as an American. When folks ask me from whence I hail, I answer; “America.” Unless I want to be difficult and then I’ll say; “Thailand.” Because I live in Thailand now.
Every time that I have tried the Liberal Politically Correct usage of “United States” as an answer, I have received a blank look upon which I always have to expound by saying; “America.” At the stating of the word “America” in answer to my national origin, I am always rewarded with some semblance of “Oh, OK. You’re American.”
To repeat, one can always tell a Liberal American traveling the world by how he/she refers to themselves. If an American uses the term “United States” in answer to “Where are you from?;” there is a 99% chance that that person voted for Clinton, Gore or Obama in the last few Presidential elections.
Having traveled all over the world, I can say this with certainty. Only a politically correct Liberal refuses to call themselves an American. Then there are the cowards who will tell folks that they are from Canada.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison all referred to themselves as Americans. I shall defer to their provenance in this matter over the latter day “shame interpretation” of our national identity by any Politically Correct Liberal “United Statesian.”
America has been supporting despotic monarchies since, at least, World War II. That thanks to our late, “Great” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is disgusting to me and should be to any American that we are so deeply embedded with the tyrants of this world. All in the name of Corporate Greed. But don’t let that stop anyone from decrying Moore as a hypocrite or a fat ass. I think it disgusting how obese MM has become. He looks like a muppet, he’s so fat.
Moore is still an American. Even if there are aspects of America with which he disagrees. The Conservative Right hates more because he exercises his right to Freedom of Speech. This is hypocritical of the Right. Moore should speak his mind and tell his truth. If that leaves the Right butthurt, so be it. I, for one, can see where Moore has been correct. A good, healthy, open minded reading of history proves Moore to be correct in many of his more salient points in his documentaries. Moore recently stated that snipers were cowards and shot people in the back. Many folks who have been to War agree with this sentiment. A sniper hides and takes shots at folks who have no idea from where they are being sniped. This is the nature of the job. It’s the same in any war, their snipers are murderous cowards. Our snipers are valiant heroes. That’s the nature of propaganda.
It’s the same with insurgents. The Founding Fathers and the Revolutionary heroes such as the Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, are hailed as heroes. There is not a whole lot of difference in the tactics of Marion and those of ISIS or al Qaeda. Both used terror tactics to achieve a goal of independence. We see it differently only because those tactics when used by ISIS and al Qaeda are an attack on our values and our world view. However, there is no difference. In the American Civil War, Federal Soldiers led by General Sherman raped, pillaged and burned their way through the South. ISIS is doing the same thing in Iraq and Syria. We hail Sherman as a hero for the same actions for which we deem ISIS as villainous and evil.
It’s propaganda. Michael Moore has done nothing more than bring transparency to our hypocrisy and we hate him for it. He’s put a mirror to our face and forced us to peer into our own souls. Sometimes, that viewing leaves us disquieted. This is the nature of what I call Statism. The State wishes us to believe that we are good when we perpetrate evil. We excuse our own excesses. We rationalize our murders and genocidal behaviors. They are evil because they wish that which we do not. It matters not what it is. It only matters that the State tells us that they are wrong and we are right. They are evil. We are righteous. Despite the fact that our actions mirror one another.
Moore is guilty of nothing more than bringing a different perspective to the discussion. We hate him because his perception makes us uncomfortable. That and he is as guilty as the rest of us. He defends or stays silent in the face of the criminality of Obama and the Left. Yet, screams to the heavens when Bush was taking the exact same actions as Obama does now. I am waiting for the Michael Moore treatment of the illegal assassination of Anwar Al Awlaki and his son. Until Moore is as outspoken of the crimes of Obama as he was of the crimes of Bush, I see Moore as nothing more than a Statist propagandist for the Left. I have no respect for the man based on this hypocrisy. That and he is way to intelligent and wealthy to be such an obese monstrosity. He must know that his obesity will kill him.
I’ve read that the true measure of heroism is lives saved. By that definition, Kyle was a hero. Many of the lives that he took with his sniper rifle saved the lives of American soldiers who were the targets of the persons whom Kyle killed. These were insurgents bent on shooting, rocketing or planting IEDs with the intent to kill Americans and Iraqis.
Don’t blame Chris Kyle for going to war. Don’t excoriate him for liking or not disliking war. Don’t mock him because he didn’t take a nuanced view of Iraq or Iraqis. Most of the folks who are criticizing this man’s life and military experience have no idea what it is like to be in combat. Most of them are missing the point entirely. Chris Kyle was a pawn in a larger game. Bush and Obama sent him to Iraq to kill and wage war on those whom the US government filled with your elected representatives claim were/are enemies of the United States. This war was never and is still not about Democracy or an existential threat to America. The wars of the past decade and a half have about control of resources. Both Obama and Bush played this game well. They simultaneously played the American people.
Kyle is an easy target. Especially so, since he is dead. The true target of your ire should be the Corporate CEOs, Bankers and Politicians. However, Kyle being the easier target, American Liberals (Democrats) will instead cowardly attack the dead.
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.
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?
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.
On March 23, 2005, I lost a good friend. He was a rookie Police Officer. He’d been on the job about a year.
I helped Pete build up the courage to ask out his future wife who is one of my best friends. Pete was a good guy. A moral man who would have been a good Cop. I’m not sure if that would have helped or hindered his career. I would have hoped that he’d have risen through the ranks and tackled the hard questions of Policing in modern day America. I would hope that he’d have done some good and, perhaps, even gone on to bring change and accountability to the Police force of Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky.
However, his life was cut short. I would blame this on poor training. Pete wasn’t equipped, yet, to be out there on his own and survive. He wasn’t trained to survive. Like most officers, he was trained to respond and to “shoot first.” However, he wasn’t equipped to deal with a mentally ill 16 year old with a death wish. Because of that, he died. The Louisville Metro Police Department failed Pete massively.
I have an Uncle who is a career Cop. Another Uncle has been a Sheriff of a small locality right outside of Louisville proper.
I’ve spent 3 years in Afghanistan training Afghan National Police forces and working with amazing people who happen to be Police. Some of them decry the State of the Police forces in America. Some of them…well, they are part of the problem.
By no means do I hate Police. What I absolutely abhor is the corruption inherent in our American Police forces.
I was asked by Afghan Police constantly how they could combat the corruption that is rife within their Police Forces. I never had a good answer. Cops who fight corruption die. They are killed by fellow Officers. They are allowed to be placed into dangerous situations that lead to their deaths so as to rid the corrupt Cops of the rat. A good Cop who tries to do something about corruption is ostracized. They’re run off the job. They are bullied. This is American Policing.
I have spent a good deal of time researching American Police. What I have found is rampant corruption and Cops who believe that they are above the law. The problem is that the US Courts have given them qualified immunity. This, in fact, does place them above the law.
This must change or America can not be a nation of laws or a nation of Liberty.
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.