visitors since 4 oct 2008

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting

Much has transpired since my visit to Zaranj last month.  I learned just this morning that the Surge apparently did not work and we are now, according to our esteemed Secretary of State, switching tactics too.  The new counterinsurgency tactic will be “Fight, Talk, Build” and if you have no idea what those words could possibly mean welcome to the club.  ”Fight, Hold, Build” that I could understand, but the Fight, Talk part – that is a little hard to believe. It’s not like we haven’t been talking to the Pakistan Government, The ISI, President Karzai, The Afghanistan Government, The Taliban; Impostors of Taliban. We’ve been talking to everyone for years now and that seems, and maybe its just me, to have not gotten us very far at all.  And now even the New York Times has (once again) caught up to Baba Tim on the opinion page wondering if maybe Pakistan might sort of maybe not be our friend after all.

And the optimism in my last post?  Apparently misplaced; we are not reinforcing troops on the border but instead we are withdrawing them and turning the border forts over to the Afghans.  Then there is this unfortunate topic; the firing of MajGen Peter Fuller for having the audacity to tell the truth about President Karzai and the Afghan government.    General Allen had this to say about the firing:

“These unfortunate comments and neither indicative of our current solid relationship with the government of Afghanistan, its leadership, or our joint commitment to prevail here in Afghanistan,” Allen declared in an official statement.

“The Afghans are an honorable people. Comments such as these (by Gen. Fuller), will not keep us from accomplishing our most critical and shared mission – bringing about a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.”

“Current solid relationship”?   Really ?  The Afghans are an honorable people but that has nothing to do with what Gen. Fuller said nor the scandal of wounded Afghan soldiers unable to bribe nurses at the Afghan Military Hospital in Kabul for food  are allowed to starve to death.  One could ask why the general in charge of that debacle hasn’t been fired?    The American Army funds the place, built it, equipped it and are supposed to be “mentoring” their Afghan counterparts.   Patients are starving to death in a military hospital we built and equipped and that is just the cost of doing business but negative comments about the Karzai regime from an American general are a problem?

Why spend another moment on dreary topics when better material is at hand.  The closing of the Zaranj City Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project which was done with the opening of their brand new sports complex.  We built this along with a bunch of other infrastructure for the municipal authorities.

Cash for work money can be used to build anything if you know what you are doing and this is the brand news stadium for Zaranj. Designed and built by Afghans with money from the generous peoples of America who are flat broke but continue to spend 2 billion a week here because of some reason which nobody currently living on planet earth can articulate in a clear coherent manner

Cash for work money can be used to build anything involving lots of manual labor; this year we built a sports stadium for Zaranj City. Designed and built by Afghans with money from the generous peoples of America who are flat broke but continue to spend 2 billion a week on Afghanistan because (insert your understanding of current mission statement here) We held the opening for the stadium after the morning awards ceremony I wrote about a few posts ago.

There were the usual prayers followed by a ribbon cutting

There were the usual prayers followed by a ribbon cutting

Governor Barahwi does the honors

Governor Barahwi does the honors

The VIPS are seated up in the VIP viewing stand

The VIPS are seated up in the upper viewing stand

And we are treated to a demonstration of Afghans second favorite sport.  It's first favorite sport - dog fighting is something which the locals catch mucho grief about from international media so the next best thing is kids fighting

And we are treated to a demonstration of Afghans second favorite sport. It's first favorite sport - dog fighting is something which the locals catch mucho grief about from international media so the next best thing is kids fighting. The fighting sequence photographs were all taken by Michael Yon who was down on the field

All the matches follow the same script the smaller of the two fighters takes a trimming

The matches follow an identical script; the smaller of the two fighters takes a beating - in this one he has landed his first blow of the match after already being knocked down once.

And takes a counterstrike for his efforts

And takes an elbow for the effort

Followed by a stiff knee to the mid section

Followed by a stiff knee to the mid section

And down he goes again

And down he goes again

The little fella picks himself up for the third time (it is always 3 times they get knocked down)

The little fella picks himself up for the third time (it is always 3 times)

With a shake of the head the senses return just like on TV and the little fella jumps up onto the shoulders of his husky opponent

With a shake of the head his senses return, just like on TV, and he jumps up onto the shoulders of his husky opponent

And gets ready to deliver...

And gets ready to deliver...

The double elbows of death

The double elbows of death

The double elbows of death is a catastrophic strike (apparently)

The double elbows of death is a catastrophic strike (apparently)

Allowing the little fella to immediatly declare victory

Allowing the little fella to immediately declare victory

And there you go - a life lesson on overcoming adversity in the form of so sort of mixed martial arts morality play

And there you go - a life lesson on overcoming adversity in the form of some sort of mixed martial arts morality play. None of these matches were full contact which is why they were identical and I was kidding about the dog fighting thing. Afghans favorite sport appears to be Cricket but they are formidable volleyball players too.

After a few fighting demonstrations Governor Barahwi stood; said a few words to the assembled teams and was off.  We were right behind him and I have to admit it was a bittersweet afternoon.  Saying my goodbyes to all the elders and officials who had worked with and supported us over the years was tough.  We were pulling out and nothing is coming in behind us.  As I said in my last post these people are now on their own but late that evening some of them dropped off a gift for us.

A parting gift - I know I almost cried myself

A parting gift - I know....I almost cried myself

The beer felt like it just came out of a pizza oven is was so hot so we threw it into the two freezers we have up on the second deck and waited for an hour.  But it turned out we were on city power which isn’t strong enough to run the freezers so now the beer had brought everything in them to luke warm.  I go down stairs and tell the night guards to turn on the big generator so we can run the freezers.  They say no way because they can only run the big gennie for eight hours a day and are not supposed to turn it on for another three hours.  I ask who told them that and they reply it some stupid rule the regional manager made.  I explain that I’m the regional manager which of course brings the “then why are you asking us to do something you told us not to do question” (Afghans love setting westerners up like this) and I say because we have a case of beer but can’t get it cold.  Of course they knew that and said they were just joking with me.  Trying to explain to them that warm beer was never a laughing matter for infidels proved impossible but the big generator was turned on.  The golden hour was gone so we started drinking them down warm.  The last few were chilled but this was typical – nothing and I mean nothing is easy in this country, yet somehow things always work out.  The parting gift was a considerate gesture – we’re going miss our friends in Zaranj.

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    15 comments to Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting

    • RJ

      “we’re going miss our friends in Zaranj.”

      I note how you have chosen to finish this piece: Show us some pics of a stadium that most likely will turn into a location for executions in order to spread the new rule of law… No words of wiping out the bad guys, having the good guys organize peaceful governments… Some thoughts on Gen. Fuller along with confusion as to what the State Department intends to do and really means when using diplomatic language… Ah, the fog of war remains in many ways.

      Not to worry, your work is still to come. Iran will now get the main spotlight it has been dreaming of for so long.

      Soon our dear leader, MacDaddy hisself and his whores will come before the American people and talk really tough, I mean really tough!

      Oh, don’ think for a minute that the new book out on the real killing of Bin Laden is accurate and truthful…stay with the White House version, from the lips of god to you.

      Remember, there will be new and numerous “giant bear” sightings in Iran during the coming months. Further, you will see a face on the news you already know, talking about his great friends in Iran.

      Putin will come forward to go man to man with a metrosexual golf playing commander in chief who loves muslims more than Americans.

      But those nasty Jews might have other ideas.

      They remember millions being led to a death by evil people even though America walks about asking why so many hate Wall Street and working to be free or perhaps wealthy. Hillary will rally our troops–those that remain and are fit for duty. Panetta will rebuild our military equipment on the cheap for support. Boehner will cry some more on TV, while Pelosi will push out her chest kwhile finger pointing at others.

      All’s well here in America, have a good time leaving the middle ages, even with warm beer to cloud this defeat and waste of blood and treasure. Your work is far from done.

      I wonder if your friends will really miss you and the country from where you came…to help them? Wrestle that thought!

    • ken

      Outstanding post Tim San..

      “The last few were chilled but this was typical nothing and I mean nothing is easy in this country, yet somehow things always work out. The parting gift was a considerate gesture we’re going miss our friends in Zaranj.”

      You got that right brother, but appropriately chilling the beer must happen ! Thanks for sharing the Story of Kung Fu Fighting.. I know its crazy, all the jbad geek squad kids are heavy into Tae Kwon Do. They keep wanting to show me their moves, and I have to wave them off and explain I am just an old baba. Ha.

    • TS Alfabet

      Take comfort, Tim, in the thought that at least you are not leaving A-stan in a helicopter from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. That will come, no doubt, sooner than later.

      The moral of the story of A-stan that I can draw from your posts and Michael Yon and Herschel Smith and others is that nice guys finish last (and with a big kick to their nuts for good measure) when it comes to war.

      Never in the annals of history has any nation prevailed by being the nice guy, yet the U.S. seems intent on doing this over and over since the Left took over management. Starting with Vietnam (and maybe Korea?), we have been trying to win wars with “restraint” and “proportional response.” Doesn’t work. Never has. Never will. As Tecumseh Sherman demonstrated with the Confederates, the will of the enemy to resist must be thoroughly broken. They must feel and acknowledge defeat. The Germans knelt in defeat. Even the proud Japanese admitted defeat. Noboby else has since then. No one. The Chinese/No Ko’s didn’t, nor the Vietnamese. Saddam didn’t in the first Gulf War and AQ//Sunnis/Sadrists didn’t admit defeat in the second Gulf War until the U.S. Marines beat the hell out of them, but by then we had negotiated a terrible SOFA with al-Maliki that allowed them back in the game. The Taliban have never admitted defeat.

      So welcome to the sorry state of U.S. foreign policy. We choose to a slow defeat disguised as humanitarian nation building where we can, best case scenario, “transition” out of the country and leave behind a state that won’t collapse on us too quickly and expose our shameful failures.

      None of that is your fault, Tim, of course. You merely bring the inevitable bad news. Being an American in the early 21st century is like rooting for a formerly great football team that just can’t seem to stop making stupid mistakes, losing game after game. You know a return to greatness is possible, but not without a change of ownership.

      No wonder 70% of Americans feel the country is on the “wrong track.”

    • Troof to power does in another good man.Everything’s fine. Don’t worry about the pallets of $100′s departing on Air Afghanistan for Dubai. It’s just little Hamid’s scholarship fund.

      The whole thing is descending into a shitburger of epic proportions. I have a feeling the insurgents are going to take special delight in blowing up every single Western built project and the people who built them.

      Hearts & minds to clear hold build to bullshit bullshit bullshit isn’t a policy. It’s a laundry list. As we watch the Iraqis shit in their own nest and the Iranians announce their first nuclear warheads and the Turks rattle their sabers and Egypt disappear up its own backside one must hold to account those who got it all so badly wrong.

      This is incompetence of a grand scale combined with willful obstinacy and malevolence. Trillions of dollars have vanished down the rabbit hole enriching whom?

    • I love this blog because I learn so much from it. I would never have thought that Muay Thai was popular enough if Afghanistan that it would have an Olympic team!

      Also, the Beer Advocate reviews for Red Horse are hilarious: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/355/23940

      But I bet it tastes damn good in a place like Afghanistan.

    • RJ

      Yesterday I ended up at the website of NBC to see if it would play the skit from Saturday Night Live on the Kim Kardasian divorce drama. I wanted to see how “hot” the writers were on a social commentary as opposed to their political attack spots. Other sites that had embedded this skit would not play it for my computer.

      It was a biting, very biting skit: Mean and direct, no holds barred. It was accurate in the last detail from my perspective, especially since I have never watched an episode of this family, yet have seen some take out shots from time to time.

      The sisters were getting their “anus’ bleached” was a line that stopped me dead in my tracks. My my, we’ve come a long way in communicating on our airwaves.

      Then there was the “frozen forehead” of Bruce Jenner.

      I remember America cheering this guy who won the Decathlon years ago. I ate my Wheaties from a box with his picture. He seems to have morphed into a creature from another world.

      I hear this show, this family has raked in millions for exposing their lives to the general viewing public. Narcissism for all to see and experience.

      Assholes frozen in time while staring at the mirror!

      I wonder when my country will awake from this destructive nightmare.

      Look what we have done to those willing to fight for our national principles…to the death if need be. Realize the waste we have generated in the games we play.

      Malignant narcissism at work, nothing more–nothing less.

      When will our “wake up call” arrive, and how will it be presented?

    • RJ

      If my postings are nothing more than dark clouds, here’s a reason why. Coming from this morning’s web Wall Street Journal:

      Nangalam, Afghanistan…the Pech Valley”

      “The Afghan troops trashed much of the base, stripping wiring, plumbing and air-conditioning units. Well pumps stopped working, according to a U.S. officer. One generator turned up at Torkham Gate, the border crossing into Pakistan, but was nabbed by customs agents, according to an Afghan officer. Several rooms were littered with feces, say U.S. soldiers who saw the base later.”

      An old story…

    • dennis

      Well i guess you can say it’s over now.

    • JWest

      1. Happy Birthday.
      2. And many happy returns of the day.
      V/R JWest

    • dennis

      Hope Babatim can post something when he’s rested up.

      • babatim

        Don’t forget E2 who should be back in country within a month. I still have more posts to put up but I’m pacing myself. The next post will be about my last night in country which I spent on Kandahar Airfield and it was also the night that the Poo Pound burst sending a 20 foot wall of waste water into our camp. Is that a send off or what? Cry Me A Shit River – how’s that for a post title? And I’m going to use it too unless a certain father of mine gets off his you know what and sends me some material to post. My Dad writes much better than I do and is twice as funny. But nobody knows that because he three times more lazy than I am about writing stuff. You hearing me Dad?

    • john

      red horse beer! its fun to know that philippine beers are available there.

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