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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

12/23/09 The Raw Greenwich News Feed: Afternoon Edition

This Just In ....

Wrestling: For openers, New Canaan topples Greenwich
With the Rams trailing the Greenwich Cardinals, 22-6, after six matches, New Canaan Head Coach Paul Gallo admitted his team was facing a dire situation. ...
Season really is about giving, not receiving
Greenwich Time
The Social Services Department at Greenwich Town Hall runs a Community Gifts Program over the holiday season, culminating with the "Angel Tree Project," ...

Surprise .... Varbella Fire Is Suspicious

Greenwich arson investigators call Valbella fire suspicious ...
GREENWICH -- Days after a fire ripped through the popular Italian eatery Valbella restaurant in Riverside, arson investigators called the fire suspicious as ...

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12/23/09 The Himes Times: Afghanistan

December 23, 2009

Jim has lunch with troops


I am just hours back from several days visiting our troops and civilian operations in Afghanistan. The more I learn about Afghanistan, the more complicated the challenge seems. The nation is desperately poor, and reeling from decades of brutal warfare. It is literally inconceivable that anyone should experience the Soviets, the Taliban and utter chaos in less than a generation. The questions are daunting. What does democracy mean in a country of 70% illiteracy? Does prosperity have a chance in a place with six million landmines and practically no safe roads? What is our long-term strategic interest in a geography that ranges from inhospitable to inaccessible, separating the dangers of Iran and Pakistan?

I know one thing. The finest, most idealistic and capable people I have ever met are thousands of miles from home right now, working in unspeakable conditions on the answers to those questions. Yes, it was fascinating to meet with General Stanley McChrystal, with President Hamid Karzai and with the CIA station chief in Kabul. But, what will stick with me are the dozens of Americans I met who are risking everything trying to improve the lives of strangers:

The Ranger colonel from West Virginia building a secure government center for the district governor and his council a few miles outside of Kandahar.

The USAID people opening roads, restoring cell phone service and figuring out how to help farmers get pomegranates to market.

The foreign service officer working to meld civil and Islamic law and tribal customs in a courthouse in the Arghandab valley.

Jim meeting with Gen. McChrystal and senior embassy staff

These, and the other American and NATO people we met were not naive. They understand the need to partner with, rather than lead, the Afghans. They sense the precariousness of their efforts, and the fact that the time they have and the resources they need will be increasingly limited. And they know that the best of intentions are no guarantee of success. North of Kandahar, I asked the young turret gunner in our armored vehicle if he would re-enlist when his tour was done. "Yes, sir", he said, "I work with best guys in the world, and every day we're helping a little in this world of hurt."

As we approach the holidays, whatever you think of the war in Afghanistan, I hope you'll join me in awe and pride that our nation can field such people. Tens of thousands of them, the best that we have, will wake up this week in dust and danger, in a perilous land thousands of miles from home and family. We owe them an unpayable debt of gratitude. I hope you will join me this week in praying for their success and safety.




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