Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

10 October 2010

At Risk

Up until her death the other day, a 36 year-old British woman named Linda Norgrove was working in Afghanistan for a civilian company called Development Alternatives Inc. (“DAI”), which is based in Washington D.C. DAI is described as a “global consulting company.” DAI had a contract funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to help the people of Afghanistan grow something besides the poppies used for heroin production. Agriculture/horticulture was Ms. Norgrove’s field. Apparently, helping developing countries was her passion.

On September 26th, Ms. Norgrove and three Afghan “colleagues” were kidnapped by the Taliban. The three Afghanis were soon released, but Ms. Norgrove was held, big surprise. Her location was known. This past Friday night, NATO forces decided to try to rescue her. It went badly. Reportedly, one of her captors detonated a bomb, and she died in the explosion. Very sad.

Why do I bring this up?

I have three equally-brilliant sisters. Seriously, the women got the brains in my family; they make my two brothers and me look like drooling, slack-jawed mental retards. My youngest sister, Eleanor, is an archeologist. She specializes in the history and archeology of the Middle East. Throughout her life, she and her husband have made numerous trips over to some extremely unstable areas. We always worry about them both. Being tall and veddy, veddy British, my sister’s husband Tony stands out like a sore thumb. And Eleanor herself, well, a young, pretty American woman always makes an easy and desirable target.

Eleanor has always downplayed the risks, claiming that she and Tony take extraordinary precautions, blah blah blah. That may be, but a fact she cannot change is that she is often an American woman in places where they don’t like women to begin with, never mind American women.

Eleanor has always gone to places like Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Israel. (She often has to get a new passport so the visa stamps won’t betray her travel history.) In fact, in 2003 she was in Iraq and left only days before U.S. forces invaded to “liberate” Iraq from Saddam Hussein – oh, and to find those darned weapons of mass destruction.

My family has come to terms with the fact that Eleanor and Tony voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way. We understand the consequences that could arise from such actions. …Which is the delicate way of saying, “we know they could get killed doing what they do. And that is their choice.”

But I will never understand why people like Linda Norgrove and my sister Eleanor deliberately go into such risky places: countries that are either at war, or Muslim countries that don’t like Americans (or any white Christians for that matter). To do so seems reckless and dumb. We grieve for Ms. Norgrove’s family, but what can we tell them? She certainly knew there was a war going on…knew that she had no protection over there. Bottom line: She should not have been there.

I fly helicopters. I ride motorcycles. I do some risky stuff. But you won’t find my ass over in Afghanistan, trying to convince people to grow soybeans instead of poppies. That's just crazy.


Bob said...

You are so right. Kind of like those folks who decided to hike/vacation over around Baghdad and, shock of shocks, found themselves captives. Just don't get it.

Debby said...

You know, when you 'laid your bike down', Red asked if you were going to become 'litigious Bob'. You said no, in a very practical way, citing risks. I think the same principles apply in this situation. The young woman knew there were risks. She chose to go despite them. I don't understand it either, but everyone chooses their own path. I do not understand it either.

Greybeard said...

Re. the weapons of mass destruction.
Your stance, and the stance of so many has puzzled me for years. To me, just shutting down the children's prisons and "rape rooms" was more than enough reason to depose Hussein.
Now comes this.

Of course we won't hear it in the major media...
Wouldn't fit their agenda, doncha know!!

Bob Barbanes said...

Mustard gas? Oh please. If the U.S. sought to rid the world of chemical weapons (otherwise known as the dreaded WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION!!!!) we'd have to invade every other stinking country. Tell me Israel and Iran and Libya and probably, still, Germany don't have chemical weapons in their arsenals - and have had since WWI. Puh-leeze.

OF COURSE Iraq had chemical weapons; WE SOLD THEM TO THEM back when Iraq and the U.S. were on friendlier terms. Get Cheney to testify about that! Oh, right, he won't.

Bush's premise for invading Iraq was that the country had facilities for *manufacturing* WMD's on a large scale along with the means of delivering them to other nations. This was clearly...CLEARLY not the case - and Bush knew it. But we dumb American citizens didn't know that. We trusted our government to not take us into an interminable, unwinnable war on weak or nonexistent grounds. See, we dumb Americans THOUGHT that we'd learned our lesson from Viet Nam. Apparently not.

To some, "Removing Saddam" might seem like a noble, reasonable, worthwhile thing for the U.S. to do. Yes, if you believe that it's right to impose the "American Way" on the world. I guess I'm more of a Conservative than that. I don't believe we should be mucking around over there in the affairs of Iraq, Iran, or even Afghanistan- places where we're not really sure if the people even WANT us there.

Every time I hear of American soldiers dying in some Godforsaken place like Afghanistan, I ask myself, "Uhh, why? So we can steal their lithium for our future electric cars?" We are not going to be able to defeat Al Qaeda by using our military. The sooner we realize and stop acting all bad-ass macho about this the better.

Greybeard said...

Bush's premise for invading Iraq was that the U.N. had issued 17 "don't do this anymore" warnings that were ignored by Iraq, and the U.N. was gonna do nothing but issue more warnings. Meanwhile, EVERYONE thought there was nefarious stuff going on there, (and the fact that several semi-trucks pulled up to the facility at Al-Qaqa and departed for the Bekaa Valley a couple days before the festivities started indicates Hussein probably got rid of some nasty stuff just in the nick of time, doesn't it?!!)

Now we're fearfully watching as Iran goes nuclear.
Remember the old Fram oil filter commercial? "You can pay me now, or pay a LOT more later?"
We'd have paid a LOT MORE LATER with Iraq.
We're gonna PAY A LOT MORE LATER because or our inaction with Iran.
Watch and see.