Friday, February 26, 2010


I talked to Gunnar for a half hour or so the other morning.  Aside from the usual laments about general disdain for the Afghan community he is surrounded by, he is actually doing some pretty neat things over there.  Previously most of his missions were patrolling the town, occasional Taliban body snatching, running checkpoints, and standing guard over the town's bazaar.  Since then, Gunnar has been promoted (which makes me so freaking proud of him - you don't even know) and has been in charge of running these missions.  He generally is put in charge of 5-7 other guys and he takes the responsibility really seriously.  I guess there is a strong effort to make nice with the townspeople recently though so some the the focus has shifted too.  Gunnar took an interpreter with him and just the two of them went into town and chatted with one of the town elders.  They drank chai and talked for a few hours.  This is the type of thing he is doing over there.  It all makes very little sense to me and every time I hear stuff like this I think it's all just so crazy over there.  It's definitely a very ancient civilization, not much more than huts or shacks to live in, tented bazaars in the middle of the town, and sheep and goats everywhere you look.  There are a lot of AK-47s too, and old yellow Toyota station wagons.  There are very loose traffic guidelines and no one to enforce them.  To hear Gunnar tell me stories of 4-5 kids riding in the trunks of cars, and 9 full grown men riding in the front and back seats, just makes me shake my head.  Sometimes (I know this is bad) it makes me laugh so hard - not to make fun of these people, but just at the level of ridiculousness of the whole place.  And how can our military fix crazy shit like that?  I mean really?  We can try to take out as much of the Taliban as possible, but that is a huge and very widespread network of bad guys.  Did you know that more than 90% of the world's opium (used to make heroin) is grown in Afghanistan?  And the A-stan president's brother is the one in charge of it?  It's corrupt, it's ridiculous, and it would take 100 years to undo what's been done over there.  But I guess in the meantime, Gunnar will be sipping chai, and making new friends with old men.  This stuff is crazy!!

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