Oh yeah. Big bad Delta Force! Scary stuff!
Somebody in the Pentagon (hey, can they call it a pentagon now when it's only got four sides? Don't they have to find a new high school geometry name for that?) -- somebody must have got angry because after the raid failed it was like we started to get serious. The war got better real fast. One day it was lies, lies, lies, real old-school Saigon-style lies about how everything's fine...and then wham, we take Mazar-i-Sharif and it's a toboggan ride to Kabul.
What happened up there? It seems really, really dubious to me. I was watching the news about 10 hours a day at that time and nothing I saw seemed to mean a big victory. I think maybe the US just sent a lot of cash. The Afghans, if you look at their history, they fight basically for two things: boys to rape, or money. Or both. So either the US sent over a few planeloads of cub scouts, which is something I wouldn't put past a guy like Cheney, and sent them to the Taliban in Mazar with a note around their necks saying, "Here, you can have us if you let the 'Coalition' win." Or they had a CIA bag man go in with a Samsonite full of gold bars. Either way something weird happened and Mazar collapsed and then it was all downhill.
Now that is when the US can do a good job: when the enemy cracks and has to start retreating. That's when an all-weather air force comes in handy, and those laser designators really shine. You get a career sergeant on a hilltop lasering up a convoy of BMPs, with an F-15E vectored in by AWACS. You get each BMP jammed with dust monkeys worn out from fleeing. You get your Toyota pickups full of RPG rounds that make for some excellent secondary explosions.
And you have this whole caravan bouncing along with the headlights off and everybody feeling safe'n'sassy, snoring away after a big day of machine-gunning Shiites and blowing up Buddhas. Maybe like one raghead at the most wakes up and sort of wonders, "Hey, what's that little red light bouncing along the side of the APC?"
Then it all goes cubist, and like fifteen legs and arms are corkscrewing into the night sky. And instead of a caravan you've got an auto disposal site. Not enough DNA left in the whole caravan to identify anybody. Barely enough meat left for the local jackals to have a KFC "Extra Krispy, Extra Sunni!" feast.
If you saw the target-cam images from that part of the war, you had to say, "Life is good!" There weren't nearly enough of them, because the Pentagon (sorry, the Quadragon!) has this typical American bullshit attitude toward war: announce inflated enemy casualty figures but never show actual GORE. That might offend people. So officially the US kills lots of people but never makes a mess. Luckily, enough of the pilots started emailing gun photos that you could get a fair sample of Taliban arms and legs flying around in clouds of dust. Man, that was a good few weeks.
Then the "mature" people went in and it was time to start pretending that Afghanistan, the asshole of the world, is suddenly going to turn into Minnesota, where everybody's nice and smiles all day, la dee da. Hairy Afghan girls delivering the six o'clock news in Kabul, that kind of utter crap. Like that girl who's delivering the news is going to survive more than a week! Her own dad is going to cut her throat for appearing unveiled and unshaven.
But that's part of the un-fun-ness of American wars, we always have to pretend there's an ulterior motive, something about making the world a nicer place, the kind of place Jodie Foster would like to visit.
American peace truly sucks. (That's what I live in and work in: American peace. Fresno. Townhouses in a dry riverbed. Scrub acreage with fancy British names. America the hot and stupid.)
That's why we need a war now and then. You can drain your dick at every bondage site on the web, but you can't really drain your head there, it takes something bigger like a decent war and some of those guncamera shots. I figure about one a year. Which is why this was already a good year. Next column I'll tell about the rest of the wars going now and review them, which ones are crap and which are worth following. Because the Israeli/Pal slapstick can't be missed either. What a hoot! And maybe we'll get lucky and see the Indians do something besides talk (yeah, right!)