Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mercenary 'Roid Rage, Giving To The Children Of Iraq And Afghanistan

Hooman Majd
Dan Balz
Dana Milbank
"Boy, you got to like the Republicans. First they claim that Obama is not an American. 'Where is the birth certificate?' They claim he's not an American, that's the Republicans. Then they run a witch." – David Letterman
"As you know, Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell has come out against masturbation. Well, she is already paying a heavy price for taking this stance. In fact, today, the powerful hand lotion lobby has endorsed her opponent." – Jay Leno
"Larry Summers, President Obama's top economic adviser, is stepping down. So finally some good economic news, I'll tell ya, Summers didn't want to leave, but apparently he was out of bad ideas." – Jay Leno

I hadn't thought about it before, how steroid rage has helped form our foreign policy and tainted the impressions that Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis have of Americans. If it all seems to be spiraling out of control, blame it on the vast amounts of steroids injected by our hired mercenaries, along with quarts of alcohol, hashish, and prescription drugs. Why, instead of guarding Paul Bremer back in 2003, Blackwater guards stripped themselves naked, picked up AK-47's and fired them towards suburban neighborhoods in Baghdad. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, stuff that disgruntled ex-employees have admitted to doing. God knows what sort of twisted fantasies are concocted in the wilds of Afghanistan and the jungles of Pakistan... I used to work out lifting weights in the gym for 15-20 years, and I have seen first hand how the abuse of steroids turns the mind to a tangle of conflicted emotions, turning any surge of adrenalin into anger and aggression. You can't stop once you attack the iron, you keep on attacking everything else in your life. And for a mercenary, who welcomes that surge of aggression, uses it in hunting down an enemy only to kill them? It's worse than the speedball coacktails that many asian armies give out to their troops before going into a battle situation, to chemically remove our moral hesitancy to shoot to kill...

President Obama said that he isn't trying to nation-build in Afghanistan, and, looking at the results from this recent parliamentary elections, we couldn't create a democracy there, no matter how hard we tried: "Evidence is mounting that fraud in last weekend’s parliamentary election was so widespread that it could affect the results in a third of provinces, calling into question the credibility of a vote that was an important test of the American and Afghan effort to build a stable and legitimate government. The complaints to provincial election commissions have so far included video clips showing ballot stuffing; the strong-arming of election officials by candidates’ agents; and even the handcuffing and detention of election workers." Well, that's one way to influence the vote. Our next American solution is to give them all electronic Diebold machines so they can pre-program the results instead of resorting to all of this thug-like behavior done in public. Of course, they may reject the machines in favor of the old, traditional ways, that strangely seem to resemble the tactics used by our mercenaries on steroids and hashish... Hamid's brother Walid even produced a list of the winners several days before the election in his district, no need to bother about any strong-arm tactics that got him in trouble last election.
“From an overall democracy-building perspective it does not look rosy.”

Then, there's the difference in approach when trying to gain respect for the newly trained police in Afghanistan. The US spent $35 million (your tax dollars at work) to create 1000 kites that had slogans to support the rule of law and the rights of Afghan women. It made copies of the Afghan constitution and comic books to give away, and then invited the children of Kabul to come out and attend the event. Nice and wholesome, even if it does remind one more of Chinese Communist propaganda than something some idiot in our State Department would come up with.

A tent was set up to give the kites away, and the kids got a bit unruly instead of the nice, polite lines that were hoped for. Then: "Afghan policemen hijacked the event, stealing dozens of kites for themselves and beating children with sticks when they crowded too close to the kite distribution tent. Sometimes the officers just threatened them with sticks, and other times slapped them in the face or whacked them with water bottles." Along with the police beating the kids and stealing their kites and comic books, there was the cultural tradition that girls were not treated as equal by their parents, so the boys got the kites, with fathers taking them away from their daughters and giving them to the boys. Guess this indoctrinating them while they're young will take some more effort...

Despite descending into chaos and thievery, the organizer of the event felt that it was a success: "Mike Sheppard, the DPK project head, pronounced the event a success. “We just gave out a thousand kites in 20 minutes,” he said.

But another DPK staff member, Abdul Manem Danish, stood watching the kite thievery and casual police brutality with disdain. His job was to administer a “kite event effectiveness survey” at the end to see if the festival had affected anyone’s attitudes about justice. “That’s not a very good example of rule of law,” he said. “Maybe it is the nature of these people that needs to be changed.”

But at least those Afghani kids had a chance at getting their goodies, unlike what happens in Iraq. As a parting gift, the american military bought some laptop computers for schoolchildren in Babel, and had them sent to the nearest port: "The computers — 8,080 in all, worth $1.8 million — were bought for schoolchildren in Babil, modern-day Babylon, a gift of the American taxpayers. Only they became mired for months in customs at the port, Umm Qasr, stalled by bureaucracy or venality, or some combination of the two. And then they were gone."

Before I go on, I want to point out that 41.8 million buys over 8,000 laptops computer, while $35 million buys 1000 kites and comic books in Afghanistan. Hmmm, where is the bigger rip off?... OK, the US military commander was pissed that the computers were stolen, he issued a public complaint and made our ineffective embassy to lodge the complaint and force the Maliki government to investigate. This only happened because the newspapers published the story, and like progress in any country, it doesn't happen until the people in charge get publicly embarressed.

Oh graft, Oh corruption, Iraq be thy name. It was discovered that the customs officials had : "... in August, auctioned off 4,200 of the computers — for $45,700. The whereabouts of the rest are unknown... And officials in Baghdad, Basra and Umm Qasr, when asked about the auction, continued to deny wrongdoing, saying the computers were sold according to established rules governing imports left unclaimed after 90 days." They were sold to a businessman, who had disappeared, but those computers were recovered. The other half will never be recovered because they were stolen by a higher ranking official who has enough clout to cover his tracks. "Still, seven months after the computers arrived, no child has used one. The recovered computers are now in the possession of the Americans, awaiting the resolution of the mystery over the missing ones."

Yet, some Iraqis see some progress in the fact that the investigation is still going on and not entirely swept under the rug, and that the Iraqi press had the freedom to publish and follow the whole affair, even if not one single kid received a laptop. Maybe they should attach them to the leftover Afghani kites and let the kids try to get them like pinatas... The press did get the officials at the port to admit that:
“We here at the port of Umm Qasr have problems with port management,”
Ten low level custom officials have been indicted, and the US embassy has issued some milktoast bs praising the Iraqi government for even having a commission to investigate crimes like these in the first place. Oh, well, the kids would just learn how to hack and spend the rest of their days tring to infiltrate the Pentagon's computer system, if not Google's security...

We should leave our tale of generosity without attempting to moralize, let it rest in the desert sands like the cave of Ali Baba's Forty Thieves, for in today's Iraq and Afghanistan, the thieves are too many to count, and we would spend many future lifetimes wandering these sands looking in vain for an honest man...

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