Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

A piece of America in the heart of Taliban country

By Reuters Staff
June 7, 2010

AFGHANISTAN

Reuters correspondent Michael Georgy is on an embed in Kandahar airfield where U.S.-led NATO troops are preparing an operation against the Taliban in their southern Afghan stronghold. Here’s a glimpse of life on the base.

By Michael Georgy

I walked by TGI Friday’s and a Canadian brand coffee shop as men and women playing volleyball looked like they were enjoying
the beach in California. People were drinking milkshakes along a lovely boardwalk. There was a French-style patisserie for those seeking a bit of European culture.

It felt like I was back home in the United States, not thousands of miles away in the heart of Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, a centuries-old country that has fended off one foreign power after another. Is there something terribly wrong with this picture? Is this huge, growing air field a glaring example of what critics say is Western insensitivity to other cultures, even though it is securely contained in a place most Afghans will never see?

Just outside the airfield are some of the people that America has vowed to save from Taliban “terrorists” by pounding the militants and helping to build solid government institutions.

There were children beside heaps of garbage. They could not dream of getting their hands on the types of toys sold in sprawling department stores in America, where the nightly news usually offers short clips on developments in Afghanistan,
President Obama’s top foreign policy priority.

Will they just be forgotten like they were after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989. American interest in Afghanistan faded. U.S. troops will start pulling out from Afghanistan in 2011. One day Kandahar Air Field’s Western-style
restaurants will close. There will be no more volleyball matches. Players at an improvised hockey rink will no longer be cheered. They will all head home after their countries struggled to understand Afghanistan.

Afghans, who witnessed civil war in which warlords carved their own fiefdoms with astonishing ferocity, may brace for more bloody mayhem. The only thing that’s for certain is outside powers are highly unlikely to stay in the country, as evidenced by the long rows of Soviet tanks that were left by Soviet troops, just outside the airfield.

Comments

What is wrong with playing volley ball in Afghan?
Is that REALLY an insensitivity to a culture? What about Foreigners that come to the USA, they don’t want to comply with the rules and laws we have. How come the USA doesn’t enforce this, yet the American citizen gets Spit on, right here in America by Foreigners and by our US Government? WHY???

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive
 

Ok, explain the point of this article again? Providing recreation and some comfort for those serving in Afghanistan isn’t insensitive at all. Regarding this article, it’s a waste of space.

Posted by SkepticOne | Report as abusive
 

I would say the Taliban itself is a perfect example of Muslim intolerance of everyone else who is not Muslim. This author does a good job of thinking like a Taliban. But, he is ignorant in realizing that not everyone there thinks like the Taliban. And the fact that you put quotation marks around the world “terrorists” shows your mentality. The taliban were terrorists. When they came to power, they cut hands of children and refused to allow women to go to school. There are often uninformed liberal westerners who are always trying to say that the west is ignorant or insensitive to other cultures. After traveling in much of Asia and other parts of the world, I actually found sometimes it is the other way around. We are forced to accept muslim cultures and other cultures when these people enter our countries in the west, but yet when we enter their countries, we are still supposed to drop out culture and accept theirs. I think it is time western people become proud of who they are and who their ancesters were. Michael Georgy thinks like a taliban. That is what a liberal is taught to do. Maybe he should also learn to understand both sides of a situation; he should understand his own western culture.

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive
 

How has a beach volleyball court located in a secure airbase have anything to do with “western insensitivity” ? The state of journalism on Reuters continues to be lowered to the trash of Fleet Street.

Posted by JC2436 | Report as abusive
 

Three points:

First point: I thought Reuters presented journalism without viewpoint, without agenda, without a spin. If I wanted spin, I would have gone to CNN Online.

Second point: Do you think any of those individuals in the photo wants to be in Afghanistan? Are they there on humanitarian grounds? Are they there on some religious mission? No! These are American…or Coalition military personnel, in Afghanistan because their country ordered them to go there.

Third point: Freedom from tyranny has never been an easy battle. Freedom from religious tyranny will be even more difficult. Can it even be “won” by any definition? When the Afghan people or any people gets fed up with tyranny, they will shake off that yoke, but it has to be their fight. It’s not ours. We aren’t there to learn their language, customs, or religion. We weren’t in Europe during WWII to do that; we weren’t in Vietnam or Korea to do that. We are there because we see injustice and have no tolerance for it. It’s always a shame that one of those people enjoying a friendly game of beach volleyball will probably pay for it with their life.

Posted by ichard Jessop | Report as abusive
 

Three points:

First point: I thought Reuters presented journalism without viewpoint, without agenda, without a spin. If I wanted spin, I would have gone to CNN Online.

Second point: Do you think any of those individuals in the photo wants to be in Afghanistan? Are they there on humanitarian grounds? Are they there on some religious mission? No! These are American…or Coalition military personnel, in Afghanistan because their country ordered them to go there.

Third point: Freedom from tyranny has never been an easy battle. Freedom from religious tyranny will be even more difficult. Can it even be “won” by any definition? When the Afghan people or any people gets fed up with tyranny, they will shake off that yoke, but it has to be their fight. It’s not ours. We aren’t there to learn their language, customs, or religion. We weren’t in Europe during WWII to do that; we weren’t in Vietnam or Korea to do that. We are there because we see injustice and have no tolerance for it. It’s always a shame that one of those people enjoying a friendly game of beach volleyball will probably pay for it with their life.

Posted by Richard Jessop | Report as abusive
 

The only thing missing from this story were the playboy bunnies landing in the helicopter for the USO show. So I wonder where Kurtz is, in Waziristan?

Posted by Gary Skotnicki | Report as abusive
 

You are RANTER!
What is your problem with soldiers enjoying their downtime in 120 degree heat?

Posted by Kumar | Report as abusive
 

How much would it cost to hire the Russians to come back and finish the job?

Posted by jherbst | Report as abusive
 

Our honorable service members are trying to get rid of stress,and away from home.For anybody to raise eyebrows cos of these service men and women for sport is just insane.

Posted by Dabsy | Report as abusive
 

The problem is not soldiers enjoying their time or playing volleyball. The issue that Michael Georgy(reportor)raises of US comitmend to the reconstruction of Afghanistan and it´s infrastructure. Why build a shop or a store only for US soldiers? Why not build it smack middel of the town inside Taliban teratory? It shows partnership. The shop(s) will be a joint interest, creating relations between the Marines and “the natives”.
And if your gonna play volleyball, why not with the natives? remember hearts and minds…

Posted by Omar Akbari | Report as abusive
 

This is drivel.

Posted by Alexis Alvarez | Report as abusive
 

The author should have added the missing word ‘fear’ to the peace of America. In the land of warriors people ride horses in their National sport. The photo reflects the fear of the USA from the Talibans.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive
 

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