August 20th, 2021
Hans called me yesterday. He’s called me a few times recently, especially since Kabul fell to the Taliban. Hans was never deployed to Afghanistan. He went to Iraq instead. He was in Iraq in the latter part of 2011, when U.S. forces were supposed to leave that country permanently. Of course, when ISIS started rampaging through Iraq, American troops returned. Now I guess we’re leaving Iraq again. It seems like we don’t know if we’re coming or going, literally.
Hans told me on the phone,
“I haven’t heard anything yet from my buddy in Afghanistan.”
I asked him, “He’s the contractor?”
“Yeah. I’m going with idea that he made it to some other country, and then he turned off his phone and got drunk.”
I said, “You could be right.”
Hans replied, “Well, there’s nothing else I can do.”
That’s true. A lot of people, Americans and allies of Americans, are stuck in Afghanistan, and it is iffy that they will all make it out of the country. I knew a guy, Scott, who quit his job as a truck driver here to go to Iraq to transport fuel. I think he was working for Halliburton in Iraq. They paid him a ridiculous amount of money to drive a tanker truck over there, but then they never guaranteed that he would live long enough to spend it. Scott made back to the U.S. He was lucky. Hans’ old Army buddy might not make it back home. The guy took a calculated risk, and maybe he bet wrong.
I know a woman who is a long time peace activist. She has been working for years with young people, especially young women, in Kabul. Her friends in Afghanistan are now in limbo. This woman and other people, like me, would like to help get these folks to safety. But how? We don’t know yet.
While we still on the phone, Hans told me,
“I saw this picture, or cartoon, or whatever, about Afghanistan. It shows an Afghanistan vet sitting with his head in his hands, and this old Vietnam vet puts his hand on the young guy’s shoulder and tells him, ‘Just tell yourself it don’t mean nothin’…that worked for us’. I mean there’s two negatives in the sentence, but I get what the Vietnam vet is trying to say. We felt that way in Iraq too.”
All this suffering, and “it don’t mean nothin'”?