Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
Just outside of Ab Gach, in the Northwest panhandle of Afghanistan between Tajikstan and Pakistan.
November 11, 2001
It's fucking freezing here. I'm sitting on hard, cold dirt between rocks and shrubs at the base of the Hindu Kush mountains along the Dar 'yoi Pomir River watching a hole that leads to a tunnel that leads to a cave. Stake out, my friend, and no pizza delivery for thousands of miles.
I also glance at the area around my ass every ten to fifteen seconds to avoid another scorpion sting. I've actually given up battling the chiggers and sand fleas, but them goddamn scorpions give a jolt like a cattle prod. Hurts like a bastard. The antidote tastes like transmission fluid but God bless the Marine Corps for the five vials of it in my pack.
The one truth the Taliban cannot escape is that, believe it or not, they are human beings, which means they have to eat food and drink water. That requires couriers and that's where an old bounty hunter like me comes in handy. I track the couriers, locate the tunnel entrances and storage facilities, type the info into the handheld, shoot the coordinates up to the satellite link that tells the air commanders where to drop the hardware, we bash some heads for a while, then I track and record the new movement. It's all about intelligence.
We haven't even brought in the snipers yet. These scurrying rats have no idea what they're in for. We are but days away from cutting off supply lines and allowing the eradication to begin. I dream of bin Laden waking up to find me standing over him with my boot on his throat as I spit a bloody ear into his face and plunge my nickel plated Bowie knife through his frontal lobe. But you know me. I'm a romantic.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: This country blows, man. It's not even a country. There are no roads, there's no infrastructure, here's no government. This is an inhospitable, rock pit shithole ruled by eleventh century warring tribes. There are no jobs here like we know jobs.
Afghanistan offers two ways for a man to support his family: join the opium trade or join the army. That's it. Those are your options. Oh, I forgot, you can also live in a refugee camp and eat plum-sweetened, crushed beetle paste and squirt mud like a goose with stomach flu if that's your idea of a party. But the smell alone of those "tent cities of the walking dead" is enough to hurl you into the poppy fields to cheerfully scrape bulbs for eighteen hours a day.
And let me tell you something else. I've been living with these Tajiks and Uzbeks and Turkmen and even a couple of Pushtins for over a month and a half now and this much I can say for sure: These guys, all of em, are Huns. Actual, living Huns. They LIVE to fight. Its what they do. Its ALL they do. They have no respect for anything, not for their families or for each other or for themselves. They claw at one another as a way of life. They play polo with dead calves and force their five-year-old sons into human cockfights to defend the family honor. Huns, roaming packs of savage, heartless beasts who feed on each other's barbarism. Goddamn cavemen with
Then again, maybe I'm just cranky.
I'm freezing my cock off on this stupid fucking hill because my lap warmer is running out of juice and I can't recharge it until the sun comes up in a few hours. Oh yeah! You like to write letters, right? Do me a favor, Bizarre. Write a letter to CNN and tell Judy and Bernie and that awful, sneering, pompous Aaron Brown to stop calling the Taliban "smart." They are not smart. I suggest CNN invest in a dictionary because the word they are looking for is "cunning." The Taliban are cunning, like jackals and hyenas and wolverines. They are sneaky and ruthless and, when confronted, cowardly. They are hateful, malevolent parasites who create nothing and destroy everything else. Smart. Pfft. Yeah, they're real smart. They've spent their entire lives reading only one book (and not a very good one, as books go) and consider hygiene and indoor plumbing to be products of the devil.
They're still figuring out how to work a Bic lighter. Talking to a Taliban warrior about improving his quality of life is like trying to teach an ape how to hold a pen; eventually he just gets frustrated and sticks you in the eye with it. OK, enough.
Snuffle will be up soon so I have to get back to my hole. Covering my Tracks in the snow takes a lot of practice but I'm getting good at it. Please tell my fellow Americans to turn off their TV sets and move on with their lives. The story line you are getting from CNN is utter bullshit and designed not to deliver truth but rather to keep you glued to the screen through the commercials. We've got this one under control.
The worst thing you guys can do right now is sit around analyzing what we're doing over here because you have no idea what we're doing and, really, you don't want to know. We are your military and we are doing what you sent us here to do.
You wanna help? Buy some fucking stocks, America.
- In some versions, "(expletive)" is substituted for every word of questionable taste. In others, "f*cking" or "f***ing" replace "fucking" and "b***s***" takes the place of "bullshit," with all other words left intact.
We have no idea if the letter actually came from someone serving in Afghanistan or if it's the fanciful invention of someone stateside as no information has been provided about its author. Although the article has been presented as true on the radio, that shouldn't sway anyone into believing it's the real thing, because radio show hosts are notorious for reading on air items harvested from the Internet that have proved to be fictions.
No doubt this piece is so popular because it contains much that Americans would find appealing. Besides the interest (and novelty) in hearing from a soldier right on the front lines of a war in which we're engaged, it gives voice to ideas that many of us want to believe: that our soldiers are brave and tough (neither a scorpion's sting nor its supposedly transmission fluid-like antidote fazes Saucy Jack the Marine); that our armed forces are a well-organized, technologically advanced fighting machine up against a primitive enemy from a backwards country; that our foes are our inferiors, morally as well as militarily; and that the media often don't know what it is talking about, and we'd all be better off if it just butted out and let our servicemen do their
Is the story at least believable? Not really — the narrative is rife with errors and inconsistencies: for example, Ab Gach, the panhandle, and the Hindu Kush mountains are all in the northeast portion of Afghanistan, not the northwest; scorpion antivenin is injected, not drunk; and a true "Recon Marine" wouldn't be broadcasting specifics about his position and mission to the world at large. If this really was the work of a serviceman in Afghanistan, he was deliberately trying to be misleading or funny, not to convey an account of real events.
The "Saucy Jack" letter is as popular as it is because it purports to give insight into the day-to-day reality of a soldier in the field that CNN fails to provide. News emerging from the war in Afghanistan seems rigidly controlled, and the people back home are hungry for information that is not forthcoming. A missive such as this one thus falls on highly receptive ears.
By the way, the handle "Saucy Jack" might come from the musical "Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens," a cabaret then currently being performed in London.
Barbara "jack of all trades" Mikkelson
Last updated: 8 March 2008