The “fantastic” and “romantic” war in Afghanistan

George W. Bush puts his foot in his mouth more often than he puts it in his shoe. At least that’s how itBush_3
seems. And for that reason alone, I’m going to miss him when he leaves the White House. I’m going to miss all the goofy moments, all the times when international observers must wonder what Americans were smoking in 2004.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President George W. Bush got an earful
on Thursday about problems and progress in Afghanistan where a war has
dragged on for more than six years but been largely eclipsed by Iraq.

In a videoconference, Bush heard from U.S. military and civilian
personnel about the challenges ranging from fighting local government
and police corruption to persuading farmers to abandon a lucrative
poppy drug trade for other crops.

Bush heard tales of all-night tea drinking sessions to coax local
residents into cooperating, and of tribesmen crossing mountains to
attend government meetings seen as building blocks for the country’s

"I must say, I’m a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly
younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic
experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy

"It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some
ways, you know, confronting danger. You’re really making history, and
thanks," Bush said. [Link]

I can understand why Bush is "envious." During the Vietnam War, he was forced to serve in the Texas Air National Guard and was never called to Vietnam, though he got on his knees and pleaded with his superiors to send him. Even his influential father, George H. W. Bush, a Congressman at the time, couldn’t pull enough strings to get his son into the war. Poor G.W. was stuck in Texas and deprived of the "fantastic experience" of getting bullets fired at him.

Bush was, of course, just giving a pep talk to the personnel in Afghanistan, trying to make them feel better about their situation. And it probably worked with some of them. But others, I imagine, are tired of being over there and wish they could trade places with Bush, at least for a day, so he could find out for himself just how "romantic" the Taliban can be.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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