The Scotsman
Startled marines find Afghan men all made up to see them
  by Chris Stephen in Bagram
May 24, 2002


The Royal Marines are considered to be one of the toughest bunches of
fighting men on the planet -- rivals to the Russian Spetnaz and French
Foreign Legion in blood-and-guts, veins-in-the-teeth, hard-core nastiness.
Sorry, but the U.S. Marines just aren't in the same league. Unlike the U.S. 
Marines, they are commandos, much like the Army Rangers or Navy SEALs, but 
considered more competent than either.

Such is their reputation that they were called into Afghanistan to take 
over from U.S. commandos after it became clear that the U.S. troops 
couldn't cut the mustard in combat against the Afghans (see Elite U.S.
commandos get their butts kicked, part two, and U.S. troops get their butts
kicked, part three). However, Operation Condor, the British attempt to run 
al-Qaeda to ground, was about as successful as the U.S. operations before 
it, which is to say, not. It culminated in their setting off a huge 
explosion of what they claimed was an enemy ammo dump. It later turned out 
that the weapons and ammunition they destroyed belonged to one of the 
Northern Alliance warlords -- the Empire's "good guys" in this ridiculous 

At least the British marines didn't suffer any casualties -- because they
couldn't find any enemy troops. At all. What they did find, however, was
something so horrifying that even their famously difficult and brutal
training had not prepared them for it:

> Originally, the marines had sent patrols into several villages 
> in the mountains near the town of Khost, hoping to catch up 
> with al-Qaeda suspects who last week fought a four-hour gun 
> battle with soldiers of the Australian SAS. The hardened troops, 
> their faces covered in camouflage cream and weighted down with 
> weapons, radios and ammunition, were confronted with Afghans 
> wanting to stroke their hair.
> "It was hell," said Corporal Paul Richard, 20. "Every village 
> we went into we got a group of men wearing make-up coming up, 
> stroking our hair and cheeks and making kissing noises."

The impact of such traditional Afghan behavior (see Why we fight,
part 1) on these elite commandos was devastating:

> "They put some music on and ask us to dance. I told them where 
> to go," said Cpl Richard. "Some of the guys turned tail and 
> fled. It was hideous."

No doubt many of those brave young men will be scarred for life, but they 
should be aware that there are worse situations in which to find oneself. A 
White House reception, for instance. American neo-Trots (otherwise known as 
"neo-conservatives") get excited just thinking about "hardened troops." 
Apparently they stoke their deepest fantasies by reading reports about 
"pinpoint surgical strikes," "overwhelming force," and "target-rich 
environments." NATIONAL REVIEW wonder child Rich Lowry, for instance, 
complains in this week's issue (May 28, 2002, "Catastrophe") that the U.S. 
military is trying to chicken out of invading Iraq. He thinks that would 
be a catastrophe, perhaps because there are some Iraqi children still 
left alive despite the illegal U.S. blockade of food and medicine.

One can only imagine the heavy breathing and bizarre behavior that might 
result if sissie-boys like Lowry, William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, the 
obnoxious radio host Sean Hannity, or Pentagon superhawk Paul Wolfowitz got 
close to actual combat soldiers, "their faces covered in camouflage cream 
and weighted down with weapons, radios and ammunition." It makes my skin 
crawl to think about it.

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