Sunday, June 22, 2008

Khost in translation

For those who would like to get a look at what the foreign occupation of Afghanistan is like for the Afghans who live it, watching the video linked here is essential. In it, British reporter John McHugh films the antics of a patrol of American NATO soldiers in Khost province.

The patrol visits Mangratay village, which is thought to have hosted "Anti-Coalition Militants" who had recently shelled the American base in the area. The people there are "terrified, caught between America and her allies," McHugh explains.

"This is like every other town; everyone disappears," remarks the group's leader, Sgt Adams, who is clearly in over his head, looking very nervous and frightened. He even gets aggressive with the unit's Afghan translator in the midst of his desperation when seeking an elder with whom he can speak.

When the troops finally manage to meet with a village elder, the result is striking. The translator completely misrepresents what the elder says,* making the elder look like a liar. "For f**k's sake, tell him he's full of s**t," says the sergeant.

Sgt Adams explains his predicament:

No matter how many times you tell them - or how you tell them - they never seem to want to understand...

If they put an AK in a dude's face and shot him, knowing he's a bad guy, [the Taliban] would stop coming.
When the troops leave the village and the translator remarks that the villagers deceived him (the translator), Sgt Adams exclaims, "I fucking hate this town." Later, he tells McHugh "I feel like basically cleaning the town out."

Watch the video:

* McHugh's original dispatch following the meeting took the translator's version at face value. Evidently the video tape was later reviewed by a different translator.

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