Should a spoiled child be indulged?

That seems to be the point of this piece in the NY Times concerning North Korea.  I’m no expert but I do tend to agree that any short term pain associated with a reunification would be well worth it on both economic and humanitarian grounds.

Which is why China would never go for it.  The have no desire to see “Asia’s Germany” as a competing power.  Indeed, I think it more likely that at some point in the future the entire peninsula will be little more than a vassal of the power mad Chinese.  That’s pretty much been Korea’s fate throughout history.

Here we go again I guess

I guess things get to be cliche because they get repeated, well, repeatedly.

I guess it’s become cliche to say those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it (although it wasn’t cliche when George Santayana said it first).

I guess while folks are being distracted about nonsense from the past and frivolities of the present they will ignore the clear and present danger (which I guess is another cliche).

I guess in looking back it will all have been so obvious.

I guess by then it will be too late.

I guess you should read this and understand why 2014 is Asia’s 1937 all over again.

I guess even the President of the Philippines sees the handwriting on the wall.

I guess we’ll continue to downsize our military in the face of this.

I guess we are all fixing to pay a high price for our ignorance.

I guess I’ve said all I’ve got to say about this.  For now.

Mordor in their hearts?

Uncle Sam is watching You!

Uncle Sam is watching You!

I don’t delve much into politics these days here at LTG.  It’s not that I don’t care or that I don’t often think about how everything is seemingly spinning out of control.  I’m just in a state of despair I suppose because I don’t see any viable fix on the horizon.  The Democrats are worthless scoundrels, and the Republicans are two-faced bastards.  Neither party seems interested in moving beyond meaningless platitudes and red meat rhetoric offered for consumption of each side’s political base.  The ineptitude and corruption of our political class provides little hope that there will ever be a serious discussion about the critical issues facing our nation.

Having said that, I’m prompted to write about the NSA spying scandal by this article in Slate.  The authors make a case that it was Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings rather than Orwell’s 1984 that better predicted our modern surveillance state.  Their basic premise being that the Eye of Sauron “saw” everything, yet missed what was in plain sight.  Having spent a career watching how the federal government makes it’s sausage, I can attest that having absolute power over the lives of us proles citizens does not necessarily breed competence.  It is telling that despite the fact that the NSA was invading the privacy of millions of Americans (and with a warning from the Russian government as well) our security agencies were unable to stop the Boston bombers.

Am I prepared to accept that our government overseers have the same evil intent as the Dark Lord?  I don’t want to believe it.  I’m most troubled by the fact that the NSA blatantly lied to it’s Congressional oversight committee about its activities.  When the bureaucracy flaunts the law and ignores the checks and balances the Constitution provides for our protection with impunity, our liberty is in peril.  The politically motivated shenanigans at the IRS amply demonstrates just how far down that slippery slope we’ve traveled.

And while I agree that freedom can easily be sacrificed on the alter of national security, I’m not prepared to accept a terrorist nuclear attack on a major U.S. city in exchange for a less intrusive government monitoring program.  On the one hand, you have to believe in the good intentions of your government.  On the other, nothing in the news these days inspires much confidence that our government can or should be trusted.  How bad is it?  I started to write my Congressman asking him to intercede with USCIS to speed up the processing of Jee Yeun’s green card.  I decided against it because I feared that I would be subjected to retaliation if I rocked the boat.  Maybe I’m just paranoid, but then again, maybe I should be.

It’s a thought provoking article.  Give it a read.

 When the government fears the people, it is liberty. When the people fear the government, it is tyranny. – Thomas Paine

 

And so it goes

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It’s Memorial Day so of course today I’m remembering the brave men and women who answered our nation’s call to duty and paid for our freedom with their blood.  I wrote about one of them, my great Uncle Frank, last year.  Have a read if you are so inclined. 
Back home from a weekend of darts action in lovely Greenville, South Carolina.  I’d like to say I’m seeing noticeable improvement in my game, but I’m still throwing entirely too inconsistent to be truly competitive at tournament level play.  There were some islands of brilliance in a vast sea of mediocrity, but nothing worth blogging about.  Well, two things I’ll call progress.  I’m over the jitters of playing against outstanding darters, and I did manage to advance to the third round in singles cricket which was one of my goals going in.  Yeah, that qualifies as setting the bar pretty low.  But it’s my damn bar to do with as I please, right?

Came home and hit the scale for my weekly weigh-in and was pleased to see a loss of three pounds.  That brings me down to to 249.  Glad to put those 250s behind me, hopefully forever.  Total weight loss thus far is 29.5 pounds, pretty nearly half of my 60 pound goal (see, I can set the bar high too).  Oddly enough, my girth measurement is up one inch to 47″.  It boggles my brain to lose weight and get bigger at the same time.  Jee Yeun says it’s from all the beer I drank this weekend.  Well, I did put away some brewskis, but they were of the low carb (2.5 grams per bottle) variety.  I’m more inclined to think it was the watermelon I scarfed down, which was pretty much my only major diet violation this week.  Ah well, I guess the old saw that less is more has proven to be accurate in this case.  Onward and downward!
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People got to be free

Canada’s Globe and Mail thinks conditions are ripe for conflict on the peninsula in the new year.

“Some Pyongyang watchers expect yet another escalation as the regime of Kim-Jong-un tries to force itself – and its need for cash and food – to the top of the international agenda. Some predict North Korea will stage a spectacular military provocation, perhaps akin to 2010’s deadly shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, to force Seoul and Washington to pay attention to its demands.

And with South Korea’s hawkish mood captured by the presidential election victory of of Park Geun-hye – whose father was a former military ruler and whose mother was assassinated by North Korean agents – there are many who believe Seoul will punch back the next time Pyongyang strikes, sending the peninsula into an unpredictable spiral.”

More at the link.  I do wonder just how much President Park would like to avenge her mother’s murder.  Maybe she’s itching for a little provocation.  But then again, I’ve always been astounded at just how much provocation the people of the ROK have been willing to tolerate in the past, what with sinking of ships and shelling of civilians and all.  Of course, it seems to me the average south Korean just doesn’t seem to give a shit about much outside their own little bubble of the good life.  For example, the general lack of compassion regarding the plight of their northern brothers and sisters has also been incomprehensible to me.

We shall see what we shall see.  Call me a Rascal if you must, but ask me my opinion and my opinion will be, People Got to Be Free.

The best eulogy ever

One of my favorite writers, Pat Conroy, pays tribute to his father, Colonel Don Conroy, aka The Great Santini.  Y’all really need to read the whole thing, but here’s the part that pertains to his service in Korea:

Let me give you my father the warrior in full battle array. The Great Santini is catapulted off the deck of the aircraft carrier, Sicily. His Black Sheep squadron is the first to reach the Korean Theater and American ground troops had been getting torn up by North Korean regulars. Let me do it in his voice: “We didn’t even have a map of Korea. Not zip. We just headed toward the sound of artillery firing along the Naktong River. They told us to keep the North Koreans on their side of the Naktong. Air power hadn’t been a factor until we got there that day. I radioed to Bill Lundin. I was his wingman. ‘There they are. Let’s go get’em.’ So we did.”

I was interviewing Dad so I asked, “how do you know you got them?” “Easy,” The Great Santini said. “They were running – it’s a good sign when you see the enemy running. There was another good sign.”

“What was that, Dad?” “They were on fire.”

This is the world in which my father lived deeply. I had no knowledge of it as a child. When I was writing the book The Great Santini, they told me at Headquarters Marines that Don Conroy was at one time one of the most decorated aviators in the Marine Corps. I did not know he had won a single medal. When his children gathered together to write his obituary, not one of us knew of any medal he had won, but he had won a slew of them.

When he flew back toward the carrier that day, he received a call from an Army Colonel on the ground who had witnessed the route of the North Koreans across the river. “Could you go pass over the troops fifty miles south of here? They’ve been catching hell for a week or more. It’d do them good to know you flyboys are around.” He flew those fifty miles and came over a mountain and saw a thousand troops lumbered down in foxholes. He and Bill Lundin went in low so these troops could read the insignias and know the American aviators had entered the fray. My father said, “Thousands of guys came screaming out of their foxholes, son. It sounded like a world series game. I got goose pimples in the cockpit. Get goose pimples telling it forty-eight years later. I dipped my wings, waved to the guys. The roar they let out. I hear it now. I hear it now.”

Here’s hoping that America will always find “a few good men” like Don Conroy when she needs them.
 

Historical perspective

It has oft been said that those who fail to remember history are destined to repeat it.  Or something like that.  So, I’ve been thinking of that bromide recently in the context of appeasement and the treatment of terrorism as a crime rather than an act of war.  Part of what triggered these thoughts was reading comments from Obama’s national security advisor John Brennan regarding the terrorist threat having nothing to do with Islam.  At best, this amounts to pandering, at worst it is willful ignorance.  Given that Brennan supports giving enemy combatants access to US criminal courts and Constitutional rights, I’m inclined to believe it is ignorance.

I challenge anyone to cite even one instance in the history of mankind where appeasement has paid any dividend or did more than prolong the inevitable conflict that must ultimately be resolved between two competing and irreconcilable ideologies.  And we all saw where the Clinton administration’s treatment of terrorism as a crime led us.  So, why are repeating these mistakes now?

I was reading about the first Barbary War and found this factoid fascinating:

In March 1785, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams went to negotiate with Tripoli’s envoy to London, Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman (or Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja). Upon inquiring “concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury”, the ambassador replied:

It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every muslim who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.

Sounds pretty damn familiar, doesn’t it?   The point is, our enemies don’t want to kill us because of any wrong we have done them.  It is not about Israel and the Palestinians.  This war has be going on since the 13th century, pretty much like a volcano–sometimes hot and active, sometimes more or less dormant.

Since we’ve been destined to live during an active period, we must once again be prepared to defend Western values like liberty and equality.  Is there anyone who sincerely believes those values are compatible with Islam?

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How can you run when you know?

It’s the end of the world as we know it…

and I feel fine.

In Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s most recent televised speech on Iran State TV, the Iranian President upped the ante on his promised February 11 “telling blow against global arrogance” with his prediction of the “end of American civilization.”

“The arrogant and hegemonic powers, which mankind experienced in the past 300 years – and past 60 years in particular – have been the biggest historical impediment in the face of fulfillment of this goal (worldwide Islamic revolution),” he said, according to the BBC.

I will stay tuned for the BBC expose revealing that Ahmadinejad is just another stooge in league with the CIA.  You know, like that Bin Laden guy.

Heaven help us…

For an intelligent guy, The One sure seems ignorant sometimes.  Or maybe he was stoned during U.S. history 101…

On another front, asked to “define victory in Afghanistan,” Barack Obama famously said:

I’m always worried about using the word “victory” because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.

(Emperor Hirohito came down?)
Via Althouse

Sarkozy takes Obama to school

Well, who woulda thunk the French would ever be in a position to lecture the USA on showing some backbone in the face of threats from tyrants.  Claudia Rosett reports:

The setting was the special, summit-level Security Council meeting Thursday morning, chaired by Obama, in which the official topics were nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament for the entire world — but with no focus on any specific country. The meeting was advertised by the White House as “historic,” if for no other reason than that no U.S. President has ever before stooped to chair the often feckless and at times just plain sleazy UN Security Council — where the 15 members currently include Vietnam and Libya. For this particular occasion, Libya’s foreign minister attended (thus sparing the Council the risk of a replay of Qaddadi’s 96 minute performance the previous day on the General Assembly stage). The rest of the table was filled with presidents and prime ministers.

They began with Obama’s pre-packaged deal of unanimously adopting a “historic” resolution, which Obama said “enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons,” etc, etc. etc (All very nice, but what does this have to do with the real world?). Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon kicked off the ensuing round of official self-congratulatory huffing and puffing (”…a historic moment…a fresh start towards a new future”). The canned diplo-speak continued, as each member spoke in turn – Costa Rica, Croatia, Russia, Spain, Austria, Vietnam, Uganda, China … and then it was the turn of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Here’s his wakeup call, in the UN’s translation from the French (boldface mine):

“We are here to guarantee peace. We are right to talk about the future. But the present comes before the future, and the present includes two major nuclear crises. The peoples of the entire world are listening to what we are saying, including our promises, commitments and speeches. But we live in the real world, not in a virtual one.

We say that we must reduce. President Obama himself has said that he dreams of a world without nuclear weapons. Before our very eyes, two countries are doing exactly the opposite at this very moment. Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council Resolutions. [Ed note: Sarkozy then listed international proposals for dialogue with Iran attempted in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.] I support America’s extended hand. But what have these proposals for dialogue produced for the international community? Nothing but more enriched uranium and more centrifuges. And last but not least, it has resulted in a statement by Iranian leaders calling for wiping off the map a Member of the United Nations. What are we to do? What conclusion are we to draw? At a certain moment hard facts will force us to take decisions.

Secondly, there is North Korea — and there it is even more striking. It has violated every Security Council decision since 1993. It pays absolutely no attention to what the international community says. Even more, it continues ballistic missile testing. How can we accept that? What conclusions should we draw? …”

Let the record show that from this day forward I have retired “surrender monkeys” from my vocabulary.

Juicy bars and prostitution

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I thought I’d take a break from politics and talk a little bit about a story in the Stars and Stripes on “juicy bars” being a conduit for prostitution.  The Stripes story covers the scene up in Dongducheon near Camp Casey in Area I.  I don’t have any first hand knowledge of that bar district, but GI Korea at ROKdrop offers his take here.

My perspectives are based on what I have observed in Itaewon and also what I saw during my travels to the Philippines.  I admit up front to being somewhat conflicted on the issues raised in this story.  I certainly understand and adhere to the DoD prohibitions regarding prostitution.  However, I’m not at all convinced that the “human trafficing” aspect is as widespread as this story would lead you to believe.  For me at least there is a huge difference in a woman choosing to be a prostitute as opposed to being forced to do so.  While that may sound obvious, the line can sometimes get fuzzy.  Now, I have never met anyone working in the bars in Itaewon or the Philippineswho wasn’t doing so by choice.  On the other hand, I’ve met more than a few who were working in the bars because they had no other choice.  Yes, you could choose not to work the bars but for some that means choosing not to feed your family.  Some choice, huh?

As I mentioned above my experience is limited to Itaewon.  And I think the bars like those mentioned in the Stripes article probably only exist here up on “hooker hill”.  And those are all off limits to DoD personnel and regulary patrolled by the MPs and Korean police.  I expect some soldiers break the rules of course, but I’m guessing that’s not the clientele keeping these joints in business. So, I don’t think you can fault the actions taken or otherwise blame USFK for whatever overt prostitution still taking place in Itaewon.

Before we get into my critique of the Stripes article, let’s begin with some definitions and a caveat.  A juicy bar is a bar where a young woman (degrees of attractiveness vary) will sit and keep you company as long as you are buying her drinks.  These drinks are expensive (at least W10,000 but usually W20,000 in Itaewon) and normally consists of juice and little or no alcohol.  So, you meet juicy girls in juicy bars.  Some juicy bars also provide sex for a price (either on or off premises), others do not.   I am not aware of any bar openly selling sex in addition to juice that is not on the off limits list for Itaewon. 

Which is not to say that a juicy girl in a “legit” bar won’t engage in sex, but it would be more along the lines of a personal transaction without the knowledge or participation of the bar.  I don’t know if that makes it anymore prostitution than does spending lots of money on a traditional date with a “regular” girl that ends in lovemaking.   Perhaps we all have our price in that regard.

Not all juicy bars are created equal.  Some are sleazy like those pictured in the Stripes article.  Others are quite upscale with very attractive women elegantly dressed (meaning sexy, not slutty).  I’d say there are more of the latter type in Itaewon.  Also, at most Itaewon bars and pubs the staff will gladly accept a drink offer from a customer.  Some (like Dolce Vita) charge the regular price, others charge W10,000.  I make a distinction here because these bars aren’t selling juice and generally the bargirl stays on her side of the bar.  For example, I sometimes buy the bartender a drink in lieu of a tip.

The caveat is that I’m no expert in that I rarely visit “juicy bars”, usually only in a “boys night out” setting, and I never buy W20,000 drinks which puts me in the unpopular “cheap Charlie” category.  So, since I won’t pop for an expensive drink it is unlikely that I would be solicited for anything more pricey on the “menu” if you get my meaning.  Having said that, I have lived here almost 5 years and have friends and acquaintences more well versed in the juicy scene than I, so I also speak with the benefit of that vicarious experience.

Ok then, on to the article:

Prostitution and indentured servitude are everyday realities at many of these popular hangouts for American soldiers, according to past and present bar girls, many of whom were enticed from the Philippines to work in the South Korean bars with false promises that they could earn legitimate incomes as singers and entertainers.

“If you don’t sell a lot of drinks, [the bar owners] are going to push you to go out with a customer to make money,” said Jenny, a former bar girl who asked not to be fully identified. “I was shocked the first night I worked there.”

Ok, well at least in Itaewon all the legit juicy bars I’ve seen (not off limits) employ Koreans.  The only exploited Filipinas I’ve met here are the ones who came to Korea as “mail order” brides to Korean men.  I’ve heard some real horror stories about that.

Almost every Filipina I encountered in the Philippines was looking for a way out.  Many, after the briefest acquaintance, were asking me to “sponsor” them to come to Korea, no strings attached.  Of course I declined to help someone circumvent Korean immigration laws, but I question if these folks so desperate to escape the crushing poverty and hopelessness of their lives really don’t know what being an “entertainer” in Korea entails.  Again, acknowledging that there are exceptions, I don’t believe the majority of these young women are being forced into sexual slavery.

And it’s all happening right under the noses of U.S. military officials and the South Korean and Philippine governments, women’s advocacy groups assert.

“Three governments are to be blamed for their irresponsibility,” said Yu Young-nim, director of My Sister’s Place, a social service agency that helps Philippine bar girls forced into prostitution in South Korea. “The Philippine government for not working hard to create job opportunities for its poor people, the Korean government for not managing and controlling jobs [given to immigrants] and the U.S. government for neglecting its responsibility to supervise its soldiers and for not helping these victims.”

Sorry, I think that is an unfair burden to lay at the doorstep of government.  Hell, most of the “progressive” governments in Europe have thrown in the towel and legalized/regulated the prostitution industry.  I certainly don’t think that closing all juicy bars is going to solve anything.  USFK does a decent job monitoring the bars for illicit activites and places those found in violation of DoD regualtions off limits.  Korea is a soveriegn nation and is responsible for enforcing its own immigration and anti-prostitution laws.  Well, they are about as good at doing so as the USA is within its own borders.  Most of the Filipinas I know in Korea are here illegally.  And prostitution is rampant throughout Korea, not just around U.S. military bases.  Hell, it’s not even that well hidden.  You have the notorious glass houses, the double pole barber shops, and the room salons pretty much everywhere you go.  And most of these are catering to Korean men, not foreigners.

And then there is the Philippines.  Prostitution, although technically illegal,  is big business there.  And yeah, 20 years ago it was centered around the big U.S. military complexes at Clark and Subic Bay.  Guess what, those places are still thriving long after Uncle Sam departed by serving sex tourists from around the globe.  And a whole lot of those tourists are Koreans.  So here’s the thing.  If a Filipina in her desperation chooses a life of prostitution (again, it may be the only viable option, but still a choice if you will) should she sell herself for $30 in Angeles City, or 5 times that in Seoul?  To be clear, I am not saying that trafficing does not exist.  I am saying that the vast majority are choosing to use the only real asset they own (their body) to support themselves and their family.  The smart ones come to Korea (and Japan and the USA) to maximum the value of that asset.

Do I feel good about that?  No, not at all.  I spent some time in the bars in the Philippines talking with the girls.  And it was depressing as hell.  So, at first I thought these young women are being exploited.  But then I thought, if they didn’t have this they would have nothing.  It seems to me that if a man can “sell his body” doing back breaking work as a laborer, it should be a woman’s choice to utilize her body as best meets her needs and circumstances.

So, close all the juicy bars in Korea and send the girls home.  Be assured you will not be improving the circumstances of those unfortunates one iota.

U.S. military representatives say they believe most of the juicy bars stick to selling juice — and the few minutes of female companionship that each $10 glass can buy a servicemember. That is why they say they have not put all the juicy bars categorically off-limits.

“There is a constant review, all the time, of all these places,” said Charles Johnson, an action officer with the USFK working group. “A decision was made years ago that glass houses were off limits because … the thought is it is probably an unhealthy or immoral area that lends itself to prostitution. With the other establishments, it’s a case-by-case basis.”

I think that’s the right approach and all that can be reasonably expected.

Once the women secure their visas, the 300 or so promoters in South Korea who pay to import them essentially rent the women out to clubs on a monthly basis. According to a variety of sources, the women sign contracts ranging from three months to a year that entitle them to free room and board, and a salary (not including tips) ranging from about 700,000 to 900,000 won — or about $560 to $725 — per month.

Club owner Cho said their jobs “simply speaking … are to drink together and chat with the soldiers.” In exchange, soldiers are asked to buy them drinks, usually starting at $10 for a small glass of juice. The more money the soldier spends on drinks, the longer the woman sits with him, Cho said, adding that the club and the women split the juice money 50-50.

Well, you know what?  That’s pretty good wages comparitively speaking.  The bargirls in the Philippines I spoke with might make 10,000 pesos ($200) in a good month.  The girls with legit jobs, like working at the mall make half that.  And you can’t get a mall job without at least two years of college which is beyond the reach of poor families in the provinces.  Again, I have tons of empathy for these girls and the harshness of their lives, but I don’t see any real advantage to taking away the only means of a viable income.  I pay my Filipina maid $320 a month and she sends most of that home to support her family.  So, these juicy girls are doing exceptionally well, relatively speaking.

“If you do not sell enough juice, the mama-san who controls the women in the clubs, they force the women to go to the ‘bar fine,’ ” Yu said. “ ‘Bar fine’ means prostitution.”

The former juicy bar employees said soldiers and other customers usually paid $150 to bring them from the bar to a hotel room for sex, with the women getting $40 of that money.

First of all, any bar that allows “bar fines” is immediately subject to being placed off limits.  In the Philippines, a “bar fine” is called an EWR–Early Work Release.  The way that works is the customer pays the bar a set sum, usually around $30.  This entitles the bargirl to leave work early.  The bar normally gives the girl half the barfine.  What happens after that is contingent on what two consenting adults agree to do.

Now, I am not so naive as to not understand that the EWR concept is a convienent workaround to the prostitution laws.  Still, at least in the Philippines, the bargirls can refuse an EWR request.  They only go with the customers they choose to be with.  Sometimes the EWR involves bar hopping or dinner or lounging at the pool.  And yes, I am sure that in some (most?) cases it ends up with sexual intercourse.

Would these girls do this sort of work if they had better options?  Some may, I suspect most would not.  But it strikes me as being disingenuous to claim they are being exploited.  Again, I have not ever witnessed any case of someone being forced into prostitution.  I have however heard many sad tales about being the only means of support for children and family.  Many of these girls hate what they do, but hate the alternative more. 

I just can’t accept the premise that putting these people out of the only work that pays enough to provide food and shelter is making the world a better place.

Yes, let’s castrate anyone who enslaves or otherwise forces these young women into prostitution.  But don’t take away one of the few options available in a desperate life for those who choose it.

 

Go Canada!

I do tend to good-naturedly rag on our cousins up north, but it’s all in fun.  Having met several Canadians here in Korea I can honestly say that in many ways they are just like normal folks.  Ok, I’m ragging again.

But on a serious note, this article on some Canadian troops doing important work in Afghanistan reminded me that we are brothers-in-arms and I do appreciate and respect their service and sacrafice.

Some excerpts:

Dusk was closing fast on a patrol of Canadian soldiers as they cleared a sector of this bombed-out, abandoned village. Suddenly, the puttering of a motorbike was heard in the distance.

The sound came as a surprise. The motorcycle was the first non-military vehicle they had heard since they moved in three days earlier to set up a new outpost here, about six miles southwest of the provincial capital of Kandahar.

“Take cover, boys,” the patrol leader shouted, as he and two other soldiers ducked behind a high metal gate into the compound on the right.

With the near-constant shelling of artillery in the area over the previous days, it was a safe bet that the rider was not just passing through. Chinese-made Honda motorcycles are the Taliban’s favorite method of transporting fighters and supplies around the Afghan battlefield.

With the sound of the motorcycle now just outside, the patrol leader and two soldiers sprang from their hiding place and blocked the road.

Two men were on a red Honda less than 50 meters away. A third followed on a second motorcycle just behind them. The soldiers yelled for the men to stop. The men jumped from the motorcycles and began to run.

The Canadian soldiers opened fire. Two of the men dashed through a gate in a mud wall to the left and into a field before they were cut down by other troops. The third man died in a hail of fire before he even made it off the road. He fell face down in the dirt and did not move again. The fusillade had lasted less than 30 seconds.

As darkness fell, a team of combat engineers moved forward to check the motorcycles and the bodies of the three men for booby traps. There were none. The other soldiers cheered and bumped fists when the engineers announced had found a 60 mm mortar tube, a base plate and four high-explosive rounds. The three men had definitely been Taliban.

“It’s been a good day, huh?” a sergeant said. His name, like the others, is withheld because of task force ban on identifying troops who kill or injure insurgents or civilians.

“Yeah, they were probably going to fire those mortars on us,” said another soldier. “We assured ourselves of a good sleep tonight.”

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Job well done, guys.