So, after we published our eye-witness account of the murder of two Americans by an ANA officer, the media started putting out their version of the attack. Notably the New York Times (thanks to LaughinLarry who dropped the link off last night) which decided that the Afghan version was more interesting;
The Wardak provincial police chief, Abdul Qayoum Baqizoi, said the fight broke out when an Afghan soldier among seven soldiers at the checkpoint opened fire on the Americans; in the ensuing gun battle, three Afghan soldiers were killed, including the one who fired first. “We still don’t have a clear picture of what happened,” Mr. Baqizoi said. He quoted the lone Afghan soldier who was unhurt as saying, “ ‘I heard some noise and verbal argument and suddenly heard the shooting and then one of the coalition soldiers threw a hand grenade so I fled from the check post and hid myself behind our Humvee.’ ”
Funny, but my guy didn’t mention an argument. In fact they were clear that it was a calm conversation that was punctuated by gun fire.
And of course, the Washington Post picks this moment to repeat the story about American indifference to the Afghan culture as the root cause of these attacks in their article yesterday “Afghan troops get a lesson in American cultural ignorance“;
So the Afghan army is trying something new: a guide to the strange ways of the American soldier. The goal is to convince Afghan troops that when their Western counterparts do something deeply insulting, it’s likely a product of cultural ignorance and not worthy of revenge.
The pamphlet is intended to “strengthen our understanding of our [NATO] counterpart,” according to an English translation of the pamphlet that was provided to The Washington Post. But in doing so, it also reveals seemingly minor — and rarely acknowledged — cultural faux pas that have created palpable tension between the two forces.
“Please do not get offended if you see a NATO member blowing his/her nose in front of you,” the guide instructs.
“When Coalition members get excited, they may show their excitement by patting one another on the back or the behind,” it explains. “They may even do this to you if they are proud of the job you’ve done. Once again, they don’t mean to offend you.”
And another tip: “When someone feels comfortable in your presence, they may even put their feet on their own desk while speaking with you. They are by no means trying to offend you. They simply don’t know or have forgotten the Afghan custom.”
Yeah, it’s Americans’ cultural ignorance that’s the cause, not that the Afghans have a cultural ignorance that dates to the 7th century. And tell me what good a pamphlet will do among a demographic which is generally illiterate. It’s good to see that Big Army has had an influence on the Afghans in regards to printing useless pamphlets so they can appear to be doing something, while doing nothing effective, though.
Someone who has read the AAR of yesterday’s murder contacted me to say that my account of events isn’t “entirely” true, so I don’t what they’re talking about which part isn’t true. So you can take that with how ever much salt you want. Were there seven Afghans and not 17? The fact remains that an entire Afghan unit opened fire on an American unit. The murder of two Americans by an Afghan is undisputed. That three more Americans were injured is undisputed and it would take more than one Afghan officer to inflict those casualties.