"Say what you like about Afghans, but they’re admirably straightforward. The mobs outside the bases enflamed over the latest Western affront to their exquisitely refined cultural sensitivities couldn’t put it any plainer:
“Die, die, foreigners!”
And foreigners do die. USAF Lieutenant Colonel John Loftis, 44, and Army Major Robert Marchanti II, 48, lost their lives not on some mission out on the far horizon in wild tribal lands in the dead of night but in the offices of the Afghan Interior Ministry. In a “secure room” that required a numerical code to access. Gunned down by an Afghan “intelligence officer.” Who then departed the scene of the crime unimpeded by any of his colleagues.
Some news outlets reported the event as a “security breach.” But what exactly was breached? The murderer was by all accounts an employee of the Afghan government, with legitimate rights of access to the building and its secure room, and “liaising” with his U.S. advisers and “mentors” was part of the job. In Afghanistan, foreigners are dying at the hands of the locals who know them best. The Afghans trained by Westerners, paid by Westerners, and befriended by Westerners are the ones who have the easiest opportunity to kill them. It is sufficiently non-unusual that the Pentagon, as is the wont with bureaucracies, already has a term for it: “green-on-blue incidents,” in which a uniformed Afghan turns his gun on his Western “allies".
So we have a convenient label for what’s happening; what we don’t have is a strategy to stop it — other than more money, more “hearts and minds” for people who seem notably lacking in both, and more bulk orders of the bestselling book Three Cups of Tea, an Oprahfied heap of drivel extensively exposed as an utter fraud but which a delusional Washington insists on sticking in the kit bag of its Afghan-bound officer class.
Don’t fancy the tea? A U.S. base in southern Afghanistan was recently stricken by food poisoning due to mysteriously high amounts of chlorine in the coffee. As Navy Captain John Kirby explained, “We don’t know if it was deliberate or something in the cleaning process.”
Oh, dear. You could chisel that on the tombstones of any number of expeditionary forces over the centuries: “Afghanistan. It’s something in the cleaning process.”
In the last couple of months, two prominent politicians of different nations visiting their troops on the ground have used the same image to me for Western military bases: crusader forts. Behind the fortifications, a mini-West has been built in a cheerless land: There are Coke machines and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Safely back within the gates, a man can climb out of the full RoboCop and stop pretending he enjoys three cups of tea with the duplicitous warlords, drug barons, and pederasts who pass for Afghanistan’s ruling class. The visiting Western dignitary is cautiously shuttled through outer and inner perimeters, and reminded that even here there are areas he would be ill-advised to venture unaccompanied, and tries to banish memories of his first tour all those years ago when aides still twittered optimistically about the possibility of a photo op at a girls’ schoolroom in Jalalabad or an Internet start-up in Kabul."
As I have maintained here on these pages since the very beginning, I support the missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And will never regret having done so even if ultimately both enterprises fail. What the West, under US aegis, is doing there, is trying to put a human face on the murderous and insane cult that is islam. In Iraq, we seem to have gotten them at least so far that they don't cave each others heads in when quarreling and try to solve their differences in something that passes for a legislative chamber over there. If we keep believing, of course, that the recent spate of bombing attacks are AQ's work and not some jests between the local lads.
Now, will it all work? Still too soon to say. We must carry on, for the only alternative is the sane part of humanity utterly destroying islam - and THAT will be messy.
In the meantime, we should console ourselves that we are wiping out scores of the more radical footsoldiers. It's something.