KABUL -- I hate my job. I hate Afghanistan. I hate the Afghans.
The most frustrating aspect of being an American warrior in Afghanistan, and I'm sure the same is true in Iraq, is the softer, less aggressive role the Department of Defense has taken on. My job here as an ETT (Embedded Team Trainer) is to advise a small ANA (Afghan National Army) contingent on how to be combat medics, which is what I am.
Since when is it our fucking responsibility to stand up a "sovereign" nation's military? Our role has traditionally been much simpler: Destroy the enemy's ability to make war. Not, pump billions of US dollars into their economy, build an infrastructure, support that infrastructure, train their corrupt officers to discipline their peasant soldiers, and constantly remind them to show up to work, pretty please.
The subdued work ethic of the modern day Afghan is like that of a communist-era Russian on steroids. An ANA soldier will go AWOL for, no shit, a fiscal year, before returning to his original unit with no disciplinary reprisals whatsoever, and in some cases, his back-pay for the length of time he was not around. This behavior, though publicly frowned upon at meetings where U.S. ETT's are present, is more or less the norm.
Afghan men: what's not to love about them?
The Proud Beggar is an entirely Afghan phenomenon. When we ETT's go "up the hill," as we say, referring to the ANA compound on the other side of our FOB (Forward Operating Base), it is commonplace to be accosted at least twice by an ANA soldier who'll utilize his very best broken English to demand something, usually a cigarette or a dollar. He will do this with a crooked, disgusting smirk on his malnourished face, because he believes that for whatever reason, you owe it to him. Owing to Afghanistan's strategic importance of bisecting the two great empires of the late 18th-century, the Russians and the British, both sides began a forward courtship with the burgeoning country. This lead to an expectation that the people of that nation were owed tribute simply for being Afghan. I do not subscribe to this belief. If anything, those cocksuckers owe me their life and limb for giving up a decent existence to come out to their shit-hole country and play fucking nurse maid to a bunch of grown up children whose heads are so swelled with pride for being Afghan Muslim males, that whenever they fuck up or steal something, which is often, it is uniformly someone else's fault. This particular quality is more Muslim than Afghan, but that doesn't make it any less irritating.
Another fucked up Muslim tradition is the male on male sex party every Thursday night. Our Western media staples don't highlight this custom very often, but every Thursday night is a Manlove bonanza. In the Muslim tradition, men are to be used for pleasure, and women are for procreation. It is forbidden for a woman to have a sexual encounter with another woman. A machismo culture of bisexual males who pee sitting down, like a woman, that doesn't allow any girl-on-girl? I still can't wrap my fucking head around that. Which brings me to the issue of personal hygiene. The Proud Beggar man-fuckers pride themselves on being clean. Cleanliness is next to Godliness and all that. These are people who bath about once or twice a month, who wipe their shitty assholes with their bare hands and smear the fecal manner on a nearby wall, and pack their open wounds with chewing tobacco. Personal hygiene is a real work in progress at this point.
My cynicism of all things Afghan did not arrive spontaneously after any one incident or story that I heard. Cynicism among ETT's in Afghanistan is an incurable epidemic. It takes a few months for the intolerance to seep in, but sure as a morning wood, it does. At first, you begin to resent yourself for starting to sound like the ETT's you first met when you arrived in country; the ETT's you hated for their inability to understand the local customs and their non-effort to learn the popular language. But once you've been burned, swindled or even robbed a few times, the reality sinks in and you switch very quickly and very naturally back to survival mode, which is where I am right now. I'm still the combat medic presiding over my ETT team, but I've resigned my collateral duty as mentor to the ANA. Thankfully our senior officers have had their heads just far enough up their own asses to not really take notice. Voicing my exasperations and prejudices is all I can do to keep from hanging myself.