Friday, September 29, 2006

Thoughts from today 29 Sept 06

Trust me, these are not even half of what I was going to say....
A Major explained his thoughts on how a person’s frame of reference affects their view of the current reality that we share; how a person’s initial impression of people and events and places is colored by what has gone before in their life. When an American who abides by the law in our country arrives in Afghanistan, it is difficult to realize that our laws aren’t their laws; and as a result we may tend to judge people harshly. Afghans take care of themselves, their family, their village, and their tribe first, that is how they were raised, and that is their frame of reference. We see things that we label graft, illegal, and immoral in our country that are the norm here. People steal and sell gas. There are two guys in our jail here for that very reason today. The soldier doesn’t really think that he is hurting his unit. Or that the gallons that he steals might allow us to finish a mission, because that is not in his experience.

We spent a good deal of time initially fighting with the ANA over hashish usage; smoking hashish in Afghanistan is about as evil as drinking a Bud Light in our part of the world. Interestingly enough alcohol has probably the same percentage of usage here in Afghanistan as Hashish has in America. With the arrival of our new Company Commander we have all but eliminated hashish usage. It was prevalent on guard duty at night. (Doesn’t that make you feel safe?) Our security force would get so frustrated by it that they would complain for an hour the next day. The ANA First Sergeant had not ability to stop it, for whatever reason, maybe because he was using it also, who knows.

Soldiers go on leave, with very little warning, and no true concern for scheduling it in advance often without much coordination. They just put on civilian clothing, secure their weapon, and off they go, for as long as they want to be gone really. In our army we call that Away With Out Leave, and it is a chargeable offense. When a soldier volunteers in our army the soldier volunteers for a set period of time, and Uncle Sam owns you for that period of time. Here, everyday is a choice, if you don’t want to serve anymore you can leave and there is no repercussion.

I read about General Black Jack Pershing, the man who gets the credit for putting our American Expeditionary Force together for WWI. 90 years ago he did in the Philippines what we are doing today here in Afghanistan, which is building an army that will stand on its own and can deploy if necessary. I am curious as to how many parallels there are from his time to ours.

Today’s Headlines, some observations:

bin Laden is alive, last week he was dead, I think he is Hindu.

NATO extends mission to the east. Where they think bin Laden may be hiding, in Afghanistan. Interesting

Bush couldn’t get Karzai and Musharraf to shake hands. Hmm that either proves that they have enough integrity to admit to themselves at least; what Pakistan is doing with the Taliban is bad for Afghanistan. Or it just means that they aren’t as polished as the rest of our world leaders who would be eligible for an Oscar except that the category is too small.

Afghan-Pakistan Relations Tense over Taliban Presence: Let’s file this under hmmm shall we say “No Sherlock, Really??” Other than the fact that people come over the border from Pakistan and kill themselves and others in Afghanistan, I have no idea why they would be tense. (Pakistan must be very happy that they are not contiguous with Israel)

Musharraf Denies Pakistan is harboring the Taliban. That followed on the same day by this:
Taliban continues to rule the roost in Pak tribal areas despite peace deal. I know I already mentioned Lebanon, but really. The Taliban have set up governments in place of or along side the Pakistan governmental structural institutions, because they can. How can you put together an agreement in the first place with a group that has voluntary membership? Taliban is not synonymous with Pashtun. It is similar to our government striking a treaty with the Symbionese Liberation Army, oh, wait that didn’t happen.

Here is one last thought for you, I am sure I should stop already but here it is:
• A treaty is a binding agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely states and international organizations. (Per Wikpedia anyway).
• Pakistan recognized the Taliban as either a state, international organization or an actor, (Oscars anyone?) when they entered into a peace agreement with them as a state.
• If the Taliban is a legitimate international organization, operating with in the borders of Pakistan, then either:
o Pakistan condones it, or:
o The state no longer has the ability to impose the national will within its own borders.

All my best,


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