Monday, July 11, 2005

News from Afghanistan

There's no question that there's good news coming out of Afghanistan. (And into Afghanistan, as I'll mention later.) It just feels wrong to me to dive into that without acknowledging the bad news, which all of us who have been listening for the past week already know. Still...

The story of the Afghani soldiers who were beheaded and left to be found with their severed heads sitting on their chests is angering. The monsters responsible are clearly not interested in anything but exerting their dominance over anyone - Muslim or not - who stands opposed to them. To call them animals is to defame the real animals of this world. They're beneath that. And they don't deserve any further effort to "understand" their positions.

I note this morning that the 4th SEAL that had comprised the recon/surveillance team that had come under fire in Afghanistan has been found.

::::::::The body of a missing U.S. commando has been located in eastern Afghanistan, the military said Monday, bringing an end to the desperate search for the last member of an ill-fated, four-man special forces unit that disappeared last month.

One of the four men was rescued on July 3; the other two were found dead the next day.

The body of the fourth U.S. Navy SEAL was found Sunday in Kunar province by a search and rescue team, the military said in a statement. It said all indications are that he died in fighting, despite a claim by Mullah Latif Hakimi, a purported Taliban spokesman, that he was captured alive and beheaded.

"The location and disposition of the service member's remains indicate he died while fighting off enemy terrorists on or about June 28," the statement said.

I wrote about a co-worker of mine who knew one of the men sent out to reinforce the recon unit. That co-worker is down visiting PO1 Lucas' wife and family as I write this. I didn't know the man, myself, but its impossible to not feel the saddness at his passing. My co-worker tells me Lucas firmly believed in the good of his mission and the progress that is being made in the Mid-East. This was the man who was there and the man who paid the highest price a man can give. I bow to his wisdom.

Chrenkoff's blog has become the definitive source for good news out of both Afghanistan and Iraq that has gone underreported or been simply ignored by the MSM. He has the latest from Afghanistan today. Of particular note is the follow-up on 3 Afghani exchange students who are returning home with what they've learned. Higher education aside, they've learned something else that might yield more powerful result. From the local paper there:

::::::::And they taught as much as they learned, helping Americans of other religions, or no religion, understand a little more about what it's like to be a Sunni Muslim so far from home.

"I thought Christians here would be mostly against Muslim people," said Barak, 16, who attended Coral Glades High School in Coral Springs. "But they have too much respect for Muslim people."

He didn't mean it quite that way. Barak knew very little English when he arrived last August as part of the Youth Exchange and Studies Program, coordinated by the State Department and World Link, an Iowa-based nonprofit group. He sometimes says "too much" when what he really means is "a lot." But his English has improved dramatically, thanks to spending time with a South Florida family, in a South Florida school with American friends.

"There's too much freedom here, about everything," he said. "How they dress, where they go, wherever they want. They can't do these things in other countries."

These students were here during the 2004 election campaign and witnessed election day here last November. At first, my thought was, "poor kids." The year and some leading up to the elections cannot, in any way, be claimed to be our finest hour. But it was what this young man, Barak, said that made me re-think the position. He was impressed by the fact that a world leader of the power of the President could be deposed without violence. He said, "It was the first time we have ever seen an election... It was good to see people choosing their own leader." And Rasoli adds: "I know when I go back that people are going to say bad things about America, about Jews and Christians... I am going to tell them no. They are wrong. It is not like that." And that is the potential for a real change, if we can just keep that seed from dying in the soil of the Mid-East. In talk around the water cooler here today, there's already been the point raised (by someone who accuses me of being a warmonger - seriously!) that Barak's comments show that war is never the answer. That the invasion was the wrong move and we should pull out today.

After pointing out that Barak is Afghani, not Iraqi, and that the actions in Afghanistan were always completely justified from whatever viewpoint that's been bandied about, I brought up my contention that without the military intervention, Barak would never have gotten the opportunity to experience life in the US to make his new impression. I'd love to report where the conversation went after that, but there's nothing to report. All I got was was a huffy "Whatever" and a vision of that person walking away. So much for reasoned debate. Fortunately, that person's actions aren't the norm, at least here.

Another note in Chrenkoff's report is a war of a different kind. Afghanistan's population had hardly any levels of health care during the Taliban's rule. Now, they're pursuing disease and stomping out what they can. Interestingly, the cases of polio are indicative of their success. In 2000, they had 27 case of polio. Last year, it was 4. So far, halfway through 2005, they've had 1. All due to efforts by Afghanis to provide the vaccine where none was allowed or available before. Good stuff, for certain.