Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Afghanistan--Write the Poems Now, Please

I try not to have memory flashes of helicopters being dumped into the waters off of Viet Nam when I read stories like the following. I also blot out those pictures of Soviet tanks, battle scarred and worse for wear, winding their way down dusty roads, past burnt out shells of their comrades tanks, as they left Afghanistan exactly twenty years ago. And even farther back in time, no pictures, but we do have Rudyard Kipling’s chilling end stanza of a poem about the Brits 19th century attempt to bolster their empire in Afghanistan:

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier ~of~ the Queen!

Our empire in Afghanistan may be played down and described as being only virtual. Our military stance may be sold on the basis of “first line defense against terrorism,” whatever that means. The time line for this continuing disaster may even be called temporary, though this is term of plastic meaninglessness. Whatever and however, the costs are hard and real, in blood and treasure.

The Bush gang covered this with manufactured fear and flag waving; the Obama gang should shove our noses deep into the reality of Afghanistan so we can decide if we really want to live with the odor of it indefinitely.

NYT February 26, 2009
Afghan Buildup Includes Billions for Equipment

WASHINGTON — As part of its buildup in Afghanistan, the Pentagon plans to deploy billions of dollars in heavily armored vehicles, spy planes, jammers and even experimental ground-penetrating radars to defend troops from roadside bombs that are proving increasingly lethal. . . .

Overall, there are 38,000 American troops in Afghanistan today; half are in the NATO security and assistance force along with 32,000 allied troops, and half are under United States command carrying out counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and training missions.

I.E.D.s are intended to do more than kill troops on the battlefield, General Metz said. “The enemy knows this is a strategic weapon to influence public opinion back in the U.S., to influence positively his recruiting, and to show people that central government in Kabul has less control,” he said.



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