FROM THE BOOK "THE WATCH"
A LEGLESS GIRL HAS COME DOWN FROM THE HILLS IN A PART OF AFGHANISTAN TO CLAIM HER BROTHER'S BODY FOR BURIAL, FROM THE FIREFIGHT WITH THE USA SOLDIERS A FEW NIGHT IN THE PAST. THE AFHANS KILLED WERE NOT A PART OF THE TALIBAN, BUT FREEDOM FIGHTERS WHO HAD HAD ENOUGH WITH USA KILLINGS AND DESTRUCTION OF PEOPLE NOT BELONGING TO THE TALIBAN.
FROM PAGES 191-193.
But he's already speaking again: Maybe I'll set up shop in the badlands of Youngstown after I get my degree. Make up for all the killing I've seen.
There's gotta be as much killing there as here, I point out. He smiles sadly. Still and all, it's my home turf.
You sure 'bout this? I wouldn't want you to be settin' yourself up for a fall.
'Course I'm not sure, he replies. But one thing I do know is that this war's not worth another casualty. That much I am sure of.
I watch him as he stands there, hands resting on the Hesco, unmoving and stiff, a slight breeze ruffling his hair. I feel as if I'm seeing a different person than the one I've known all these years. Congratulations, I murmur. In that case, ya'll got a good plan. He scrutinizes my face, then returns his gaze to the field.
In a quiet voice, he says: I can't do this anymore. That girl out there is officially my breaking point. I don't want to be part of the SitRep that writes her off as collateral damage.
You're assuming she's innocent, I counter. You're ignoring the fact that it might have to do with their whole religious shtick.
His tone and glance are pointed. No, I'm not assuming her innocence, as a matter of fact, he says. But I do know this much: if she turns out to be a suicide bomber, it won't be because she hates our religion. I mean, I don't even have a religion. It'll be because we whacked her brother and we're in their country. How difficult is that to understand? When you kill people and wipe out their families, strafe their homes and burn down their villages, litter their fields with fragmentation bombs and gun down their livestock, you've lost the whole battle for hearts and minds. I mean, who're we trying to kid? Ourselves? Is it any wonder they're fighting back? We're not winning this war; we're creating lifelong enemies. It's time to admit that our own leadership has ring-fenced us with lies.
I don't reply. I can't altogether say that I hadn't seen this coming. All the same, I'm left feeling a mixture of understanding and regret. More than anything else, though, his little tirade leaves me feeling even more exhausted than I was before.
No response? he prompts without looking at me.
All I can muster by way of a response is: It sounded like you needed to get that off your chest.
And I'm not done, he says with feeling. I'm tired of playing these boys' games. I'm tired of being surrounded by nineteen - and twentyyear-olds who've been conned into believing they're fighting the good fight. I'm too old to play these games - games with youngsters who lack the maturity to understand the consequences of their actions, for themselves as much as the people they're primed to kill. I'm tired of supplying an endless array of prescription pills to help these kids cope with their fears and their confusion and their guilt. You know what I mean: I'm the gatekeeper to the valley of the dolls, and I can't take it anymore. I've lost my ability to pretend.
He stops all of a sudden and turns toward me.
I don't know about you, he says, but I can't look at myself in the mirror anymore. I've stopped believing - and do you know why? He jabs his cigarette in the direction of the field. That's why. Armies don't win wars; people win wars. People feel things like sacrifice, loss, grief. The Pashtuns are in this thing as a people. And that legless girl in her cart is part of that. They know what they're fighting for they're fighting for their survival, their homes, their beliefs. Okay, fine, but what are we fighting for? We got kids here whose only option in life is either the army or methland. Sure, we also got the high-tech ordnance and every damn textbook strategy under the sun. It doesn't matter. Their slings and stones are more powerful than our M-203s. Their nation's more powerful than our army.
He drops his cigarette to the ground and stubs it out with his boot.
The moment that girl showed up, I knew it was over for us. If Lieutenant Frobenius's death was the beginning of the end, then she is the end. Game, set, and match. I mean, think of all those who started out with us way back in Iraq - Dave Hendricks, Brian Castro, Brandon Espinosa, Bradley Folsom - all gone. And for what? For what? So there it is. I'm done now. I've said my piece.
I put out my cigarette. I feel just so incredibly tired, and somehow the loaded silence that follows Doc's tirade makes it worse. Turning away abruptly from him, I say: Best of luck. I nod a couple of times and climb down from the Hescos. I gotta go, I explain. I can't think of anything else to say. Maybe he was expecting more of a response from me, but he isn't going to get it. I'm simply not up to it-not at this time of the night, at least. And not when I know that my guys are patiently waiting by their guns for me. They might be young, but their exhaustion is as old as time itself. All the same, I'm aware of Doc's eyes boring into me as I walk slowly back to the ECP. The night is clotted with fog.
FROMM PAGES 228-229
In response to the news report that's obviously been nagging him ever since he listened to it a week ago, Connolly's printed out a useful list of some of the things forbidden by the Taliban when they were in power. He has copies of the list distributed to every member of the company, along with a handwritten note that reads: I want this to serve as a reminder, if one is needed, of the kind of people we're up against.
1. No woman allowed outside the home unless accompanied by a mahram (close male relative such as a father, brother, or husband).
2. Women not allowed to buy from male shopkeepers.
3. Women must be covered by the burqa at all times.
4. Any woman showing her ankles must be whipped.
5. Women must not talk or shake hands with men. No stranger should hear a woman's voice.
6. Ban on laughing in public.
7. Ban on women wearing shoes with heels, as no stranger should hear a woman's footsteps.
8. Ban on cosmetics. Any woman with painted nails should have her fingers chopped off.
9. No woman allowed to play sports or enter a sports club.
10. Ban on women's clothes in "sexually attracting colors."
11. Ban on women washing clothes in rivers or any public places.
12. Ban on women appearing on the balconies of their houses. All windows to be painted over so that women cannot be seen from the outside.
13. Any street or place bearing a woman's name or any female reference to be changed.
14. No one allowed to listen to music. No television or videos allowed.
15. No playing of cards or chess; no flying of kites.
16. No keeping of birds-any bird-keepers to be imprisoned and the birds killed.
17. Ban on all pictures in books and houses.
18. Anyone carrying un-Islamic books to be executed. 19. All people to have Islamic names.
20. All men, including boys, to wear Islamic clothes and cover their heads with caps or turbans. Shirts with collars banned.
21. Men must not shave or trim their beards, which should grow long enough to protrude from a fist clasped at the point of the chin.
22. Any non-Muslim must wear a yellow cloth stitched onto their clothes to differentiate them from believers.
I consider sending a copy to Emily to remind her why her exhusband is fighting in Afghanistan.......
YES THE TALIBAN ARE A CRAZY FANATICAL WRONG RELIGION THEOLOGY, BUT TAKING THE FIGHT TO THEM ON THEIR SOIL, WAS A SERIOUS MISTAKE. YOU CANNOT WIN AGAINST A HIT AND RUN ARMY. THE BRITISH DID NOT WIN AGAINST A RAG-TAG ARMY OF THE USA, AS THE USA WON THEIR INDEPENDANCE, FOR THE SAME REASON.....THE BRITISH COULD NOT WIN AGAINST A HIT AND RUN, AMBUSH AND RUN ARMY.