A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Ugly snapshot

I think I'll change things up this photos of mine, no cutesy captions, just a couple pieces of current news in Afghanistan.  Mind you, this is just a one-day snapshot -- no two days are the same, no matter how "Groundhog Day" it may feel to most here.

Things are relatively looking up at the moment in the South, as aggressive operations by coalition forces -- and crucially, more Afghan Army units than have been fielded at any one time -- have shaken up insurgent power bases and shattered networks, say the experts.  There are a lot of people who'll undoubtedly accept credit for that, but none who can hold a candle to the soldiers and Marines in the dirt for days on end, chasing down bad guys and risking their lives for the sake of this land's peace.

Unfortunately, along with that progress comes some of the worst news yet from a seemingly de-stabilizing North.  For the second time in two days, an assassination of a prominent official was carried out in a mosque during prayers.  The Governor of Kunduz had just said days ago...

"We are concerned that if no quick decisions are made and the government does not care about Kunduz, there will be a major disaster and finally we will witness that security will deteriorate in the north and north-eastern provinces just like Helmand and Kandahar provinces." 

Well, the major disaster wasn't far behind.

Kunduz Governor Killed in Suicide Attack

As horrible as that news is, it was followed by this tragic item from the East today.  Linda Norgrove, a selfless agricultural development manager who was kidnapped almost 2 weeks ago in Kunar province, was killed during an attempt to rescue her.  This struck a personal friend with the same organization was summoned quickly from Kabul to succeed her, and now I fear for another brave aid worker.

I wind up finding it simply...incomprehensible.  When the savage murder of 10 aid workers took place in Badakhshan two months ago, I wondered how monstrous do you have to be to kill a volunteer of any nationality whose sole purpose in one of the world's poorest nations is to help people survive?  Their crime was delivering eyeglasses and rudimentary eye exams to one of the most inaccessible regions of the world.  Ideology be damned...pardon my French, but you're just a sick fuck if you carry that out.

 Dr. Karen Woo, one of the 10 murdered in Badakhshan

[Postscript: Days later, it appears that the rescue force may have inadvertently killed Linda, possibly adding another element of tragedy to the ordeal.  That still doesn't lessen my rage at the thugs who kidnapped her, or the ones who shot the eye doctors, humanitarians and translators -- one by one -- after their guides stranded them in the badlands.]

 Linda Norgrove, RIP

Across the Durand Line, meanwhile, it was an ugly week or two also.  Yesterday the key Afghan-Pak border crossing at Torkham Gate, not far from where I spent some of my 2006 deployment, finally opened after a closing of about 10 days.  The shut-down was in protest over the mistaken killing of 3 Pakistani soldiers in an airstrike, and the initial refusal by ISAF to admit error seemed only to exacerbate tensions.  What followed was an orgy of attacks on supply line trucks...of which around 4,000 transit Pakistan for Afghanistan daily.  A couple dozen more were torched just before or after the announcement yesterday.  The crisis may have passed for now...but when 80-90% of your war effort comes through a neighbor with its own insurgencies, and worse, a national agenda which conflicts with your own, you hope that some very smart people are closely examining the relationship.

This piece provides some decent background on the complexities of our current relationship with Pakistan, and how fraught with hazards it is when it comes to our goals in Afghanistan.

That's it.  Like I said, just a picture of one day...tomorrow will almost certainly be a better one.


Blogger yomistast said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your feeling cuz. Stay safe.

October 24, 2010 at 8:06 PM  
Anonymous Padraig said...

Tragic story of those selfless aid workers. In a similar vein, dozens of women & children were murdered by terrorists for the crime of being in an Iraqi Catholic church this past Sunday. May God have mercy on their souls, and may their killers burn in the eternal fires of hell (yes, I know I'm supposed to forgive, but that's gonna have to wait).

November 2, 2010 at 9:03 PM  

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