Friday, October 16, 2009

CBS News

I meant to watch Katie Couric’s coverage on CBS during this week. Entitled Afghanistan: The Road Ahead, it’s a series of pieces about the goals in Afghanistan, the ways they are being approached, and the frustrations of the work.

I only got to watch one episode – so I’m looking it all up via Google. Please take the time. Oh, I hope people watched it. I talked with a friend after seeing the 60 Minutes coverage on Sunday the 11th. We had completely different takes on “what should be done”. But at least we were talking about it.

It’s too easy to forget about it.

What happens if we forget about it?

What happens if we go away, as a government? If we say, well, we can’t beat the Taliban, and we have no business being in this other country…what happens if we pack up and go away?

Well, let’s think.

1. The Taliban will open champagne bottles. Actually, they don’t drink alcoholic beverages. But they’ll celebrate. They will dance and sing and talk about how they kicked America’s ass.

2. Then they’ll regroup.

3. Remember 9/11? Oh yeah. That was the Taliban, coming from Afghanistan training bases.

And if you think planes crashing into buildings is, well, passé, they’ve got plenty of other ideas.


"I lost my leg," 11-year-old Eidullah says, "I'm angry because we were not guilty of anything."

Eidullah was asked by the Taliban to deliver a fruit basket to a local commander who was cooperating with U.S. forces. Hidden in the basket was a bomb. However, the commander wasn't hurt because the bomb exploded prematurely -- maiming Eidullah and injuring his eight friends.

Some of their lives were saved by American surgeons at a nearby military hospital. Doctors say they are seeing more children involved in bombings.

"It shows the lengths that al Qaeda will go to and the indifference that they have to these pure kids," said Lt. Col. Benjamin Kam, an orthopedic surgeon.

The children recruited by the Taliban and al Qaeda are often willingly sent to the terror camps by their parents. The promise of free food, shelter and education for their sons is too difficult to turn down.

But the children who were tricked face a lifetime of painful procedures to treat their wounds.

Nine-year-old Mohammad had a nerve in his leg severed in the blast.

"Unfortunately he will lose function in this section of his leg. He'll eventually have to have it amputated," said Dr. Scott Russi, chief of surgery at Shamrock Combat Hospital.

Out of the nine children injured, two lost limbs, one lost sight. All of their lives will be forever altered.

Eleven-year-old Bachmaner was one of the lucky ones. He only suffered a broken leg. He wishes he could go back to his old life. "We all used to play soccer," he says, "now we can't walk without pain."

It's not childhood games that Eidullah is worried about now. His father is blind and as the oldest son, tradition demands that he take care of his family. Now, he doubts he can.

He, like hundreds of other children, are caught up in a war they had no expectation of fighting.

When we spoke with Zach not long ago, they were working, among other things, on delivering sacks of grain to the Afghan people.

Hungry people do desperate things. See in Red above.

How many of us here in our country ever, ever have had to think about having to give up a child just so he can eat?
I couldn’t even bear to think of them going to sleep-over camp.

Okay, I don’t care what people believe or what their religious beliefs are or what their political views are. They should not have to give up their children to terrorists so their kids can eat.


And if it’s the Taliban keeping them growing poppies to sell heroin to our kids, and not letting them grow crops to feed their kids…um…well, we need to stop that.

For our kids, so they won’t get addicted to stuff that will ruin our families here at home.
For their kids, so they will be able to live a little kid’s life. And play soccer.

Winning, war, politics, Dems, Republicans….The Bush/Cheney legacy, Obama’s campaign, McCrystal’s strategy….I have to think of this in the way I think of everything:

That imaginary tattoo on my left forearm.

Treat other people the way you would want to be treated.

If I couldn’t grow food for my kids because I had to grow poppies for somebody who was holding our village in fear, I would want some help.

I might ‘hate’ an occupying army…but like they say, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
I would want somebody strong enough to help me get free of the hunger and the fear and the oppression.
I would want somebody smart. Because the more I trusted them, the more at risk my family would be. So I’d really, really need them to be smart enough to come out on top.
I would be afraid to trust them. Because what if they didn’t? What if they left? What would happen to me and my family? It’s happened the last eight years. They don’t know the American president, and many of the American people are wanting less troops, not more. So yeah, I’d be afraid to trust.

I can’t believe I am in the position of saying something I never, ever, ever thought I would say.

What can we possibly say that will erase the fact that we focused on Iraq and let the Taliban grow strong there?

We can’t say anything. We can only do.

We need to do what we need to do. We don’t need to tell them who should run in their election. We don’t need to tell them what to believe, what to eat, how to raise their children.

But we need to make sure they are not hungry, and not afraid.

Fear is a terrible, powerful force. Let us not be afraid to face it down.

With love, patience, respect, hard work. And generosity.

Plant that, consistently, and watch it grow.

Just my opinion. Kudos to HMH-463 and all the men and women over in camp there. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your hard work, your good spirits under pressure, and just for volunteering in the first place.

Thanks for checking in,

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