On the plus side, when an American soldier e-mailed Dave Markland over at the antiwar.ca blog about an earlier post about troop morale in Wardak, Markland was nice enough to share at least some of the soldier’s response:
I have been in Wardak province for almost a year now. I am quite positive that the author of this article has not been in Wardak, and if he has it has only been for a short time and has not been in a position where his opinion is even remotely valid to include Kabul and Bagram air field.
Just because one article comes out stating that soldiers in Wardak are of low morale doesn’t mean that the enemy is winning in Wardak. In truth, the “locals fighting” here are people paid by foreign insurgency to fight Americans. IED attacks are just about the only tactic being used to attack soldiers here because it is a method that can be employed by 1-2 people where they can hide from the people they are attacking without actually having to fight. In few instances do the enemy utilize small arms to combat, and when they do it is from a far distance where the chance of effective retaliation is low. From that far distance, their ability to be effective is extremely low as well. In short, the enemy is in few numbers and is cowardly.
The people in Wardak are extremely friendly to Soldiers, and in reality I am one of the soldiers who has “handed candy out to children.” The problem with this article is that children have never hurled it back to me. The “installed government” has been working with US money to better the lives of the people here and the people here have actively resisted insurgency and attacking of coalition forces which include Canadian soldiers, American soldiers, Afghan Soldiers, Afghan Police, and other organizations. I have literally not entered a town during the 156 patrols I have been on that has not welcomed us in or explained to us their problems.
On the minus side, here’s how Markland dismisses the e-mail from casualobserver:
It reminds me of something Louis Dupree wrote. Dupree, the dean of Afghanistan studies, noted that Afghan villagers universally display a talent for quick agreement with outside meddlers. The point is they know that the foreigners will leave sooner rather than later, and they humor the foreigner to hasten his exit so that things can return to normal. In light of this, Casualobserver’s claims and those of locals have a logical fit.
I wish I could read Afghans’ minds, too…
Definitions of condescension: the trait of displaying arrogance by patronizing those considered inferior.