Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Another dispatch from America, or to America?

My waking hours are lately filled with a kind of tense boredom. With few adrenalin filled moments, which I am finding I require more and more of in order to maintain some kind of personal equilibrium. Now I know why men smoke. Cigarettes kill time, and such small joys are all some people have in this world whilst they wait for death. Plus, it is a communal activity, drawing people together for conversations.

Smoking is what warriors do in between sorties. Which is not to say I'm smoking –or a warrior– only that I'm bored out of my mind, when I'm not freezing my ass off, of course.

Meanwhile elements of Team Sherpa leadership have begun to put me to use, which is hardly ethical, but it otherwise keeps me warm and keeps me busy.

As happens they do not have an American guide, and since I am an American the troops are using me to interact with the locals. In the last couple of days I have met twice with local law enforcement, including the mayors of Banner Elk, Boone and Todd –of Avery, Watauga and Ashe Counties, respectively.

I suppose there is some useful intelligence one can gain from such meetings, even if the Mayor of Todd is not receiving direct communications from either Washington or the Christian resistance. For my own part, I am simply happy to speak with someone whose native language is English.

As for Team Sherpa: The cooperation and efficiency between the Indian and Indonesian military personnel is quite amazing. Of course, I have been privy to individually voiced concerns. For instance: The Indians have expressed a fear that this Indian/Indo-led action in the United States will distract attention from Pakistani behavior in South East Asia’s own backyard.

Yet, as Pakistan has officially committed itself to cooperation with Coalition, it is therefore theoretically India's ally, at least for the present. Regardless, I've learned there is a very real concern amongst these men that Pakistan unabated, may step up its adventurist activities in Southeast Asia, just as it did after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan; and they do not want to find themselves stuck half a world a way in America when it Musharraf rolls troops into Delhi.

At the same time there has also surfaced a collective concern that the American War on Terror (that continues in Iraq) threatens to break up the Coalition, though it remains focused on Baghdad, by its mere existence. For the longer it prevails, the more cracks that appear between nations party to the Pan Moslem Coalition, not to mention the diversity of varying sects whose reach crosses national borders. The result is new rifts and deepening mistrust between nations, and even between allied Muslim sects within a single nation.

Nevertheless, I have to say, for an army ostensibly fighting against 'McWorld', everyone was overjoyed when I returned to camp with fifty Happy Meals from the local McDonalds. Okay, there was no meat to be had for those buns, but God Bless Ronald McDonald anyway for keeping the fries hot by running off their own generator, which was fueled by corn oil or some other biodegradable. Some of the men, I've been told, –even the Hindus among us who equate McDonald's with pure evil– have decided to keep the free toys as a kind of souvenir.

Ah, such are the spoils of war. Ha!