Monday, December 14, 2009

A gut-wrenching report from the Times of London

To borrow the description from the Afpak Channel's daily report, a truly "gut-wrenching" piece about young British soldiers seriously wounded in Afghanistan.  I'm sure that a report just as gut-wrenching could be written for the US Marines and soldiers who've shared their fate. One can only admire these young men for their courage and their sense of duty.

 But what about the hundreds of "Taliban" men similarly maimed, except that many of them have no hospitals to go to, no pain-killers to ease their wounds, no chance of receiving prosthetic limbs to replace those that our weapons have blown offf, no government-sponsored social services to cushion their re-entry into "civilian" life?  Many of those men - perhaps a majority - are simply after a paycheck (as, surely, were many of the American and British wounded, in this time of economic ruin for so many).  Many of those "Taliban" that the British and US forces are fighting are young men, like themselves, who feel a duty, like themselves, to defend their homes and families from a threat from foreign invaders, to (as we say so often of our troops) "protect our freedom."  Not all of them, by any means, are religious zealots impelled by some desire to stone adulterers or hack off the hands of thieves.

We have already killed and maimed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of such men - and as Mr. Obama's "Surge" unfolds, hundreds, perhaps thousands more are going to follow.  Their mothers, fathers, wives, brothers, sisters and children are not going to bless America for it, nor ought we expect them to.

To borrow again David Petraeus' famous comment as the Iraq "Surge" was starting in 2007, "Tell me how this ends."

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