Wednesday, January 17, 2007


You'd never guess: I am emailing this dispatch from a Starbucks in North Carolina with WiFi access. The folks here seemed thrilled to see us. I would have thought the opposite. But when the convoy rolled up with a generator and powered up the coffee machinery for the first time since the New Year, not a single barista could squelch a smile. No milk to be had, though, but I was very happy with a triple espresso –and now I feel fully refueled for the first time in ages. Anyway, I’m also pretty sure we’ve cleaned them out of tea.

We still sleep in the mountains but every once in a while we run into town now, you see. When we do, everyone tries to keep a casual profile. Although I'm not sure how that works: Can you really keep a low profile with a machine gun strapped to you your back?

At any rate, –and as I've mentioned before–, the men of the unit I'm attached to have seen action in remote, harsh regions of Kashmir, are experts of Himalayan terrain, and therefore thought experts in mountain and cold weather warfare. The Appalachian Trail in January is like a warm afternoon walk to these men. They seem to enjoy the job and think nothing of the weather. I on the other hand am frozen much of the time.

Any way you look at it though, it is a unique experience. It may also be one for which I am far from qualified for, but which will certainly qualify me for anything I do in the future by the time all is said and done.

The incursion drags on, obviously. Two weeks and the troops have fired nary a shot, which is fortunate. The Indians say they like the Americans they've met, but sometimes we run into a hillbilly and they look at me like we’ve discovered an alien life form.

Recently, I have heard some things that make me uncomfortable. There are whispers among the men that it had always had been the intention (of some in their governments) to attempt an usurpation of the American Imperial hand at the first available opportunity. And that the July 27 attacks –and the destruction of the Petronas Towers by Christian crusaders–, provided Islamic leaders with the opportunity to move ahead with an action that some had thought forever impossible.

“We could wait another century, even two,” one of the soldiers confessed to me over crackers and canned Dal, “But at this point, why?” he laughed.

You must understand that the United States is widely seen among these men as having had a major role in the crisis in the Central and South East Asian. Previous muck ups in regards to Middle East diplomacy has only added fuel to fire, now that all these countries are allied, and share a common Islamic currency.

Realize, many present opponents of the United States were once not just allies of the U.S., but instruments by which Washington wielded power. Oh, take for instance, President Reagan's statement, regarding the Islamic opposition to the Soviets on March 20, 1984 (in a proclamation published in the Federal Register) that "we stand in admiration of the indomitable will and courage of the Afghan people who continue their resistance to tyranny. All freedom-loving people around the globe should be inspired by the Afghan people's struggle to be free and the heavy sacrifices they bear for liberty."

Eh, I wonder how that liberty feels now?

Does it make your head spin, Jasper? First crusaders knell the tallest towers in the world, in order to make a statement. Now a collation of Islamic countries cross American borders with the expressed intention of kidnapping an American citizen, and happen to blow up Cinderella Castle along the way, by accident of course, but making a statement nonetheless.

Whatever happened to just talking? You know, with words?