We are not “rebuilding” Afghanistan; it was never built to begin with…

Michael Yon reports from the boonies of Afghanistan:

It’s hard to say how much of this fight belongs to the Afghans, and how much is ours. It should be theirs. It won’t succeed until it is their fight — even if they need some back-up help from us. One thing is certain: We are not “rebuilding” Afghanistan; it was never built to begin with. Centuries of repelling invaders kept the country free. But, perversely, it also meant that Afghanistan never benefited from the advances that most colonial power brought to the remote, primitive places they colonized…

..The NDS officer said he had gone to an intelligence school in Tashkent. He told of many sorts of fighters who are coming into Zabul Province, and I asked what he thought about al-Qaeda. He said that the fight between the Americans and al-Qaeda is our fight, and he has nothing against al-Qaeda. I asked what he thought of the Lithuanian Special Forces soldiers, and he said they were very good. I said those are big words coming from an Afghan man, and the whole room laughed. I asked the NDS officer when the war would end, and he said he has been fighting since he was nine-years-old, and that now he is forty, and that fighting is all he knows…

..U.S. and Afghan soldiers in Zabul Province give high marks to the Lithuanian Special Forces, who like to ride these captured Taliban motorbikes to sneak up on, and chase Taliban fighters. The “LithSof” are on their way to becoming living legends: Both Afghans and Americans report that the Taliban are afraid of the Lithuanians. Stories about them are filled with dangerous escapades and humor.

Americans say that the Lithuanians are sort of a weaponized version of Borat, who think nothing of sauntering around a base in nothing but flip-flops and underwear. “They look like mountain men. They never shave, sometimes don’t bathe, and often roll out the gate wearing nothing but body armor and weapons. Not even a t-shirt,” an American soldier told me. The Lithuanians may be a little bit nuts, but the Americans love to have them around because Lithuanians love to fight, and when you need backup, you can count on them. That contrasts starkly with many of the NATO “partners.” Maybe when your country spends almost a half-century with the Soviet boot on its neck, its first generation of free soldiers know what freedom is worth — and that you sometimes have to fight for it.

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About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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