Nation-building in Afghanistan always has been a dicey proposition.
Actually, it's always been a failed one. Didn't work so well for the British way back when, and we know what happened to the Soviet effort a couple of decades or so ago.
The American attempt hasn't been going so well, either -- and that's before one starts to wonder exactly what the hell kind of nation we intend on building there, a question raised by this pair of MSNBC stories:
Days after the Marines apologized for a flag resembling the Nazi “SS” symbol, new questions are being raised about an Army base in Afghanistan reportedly called “Combat Outpost Aryan.”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which first raised the controversy over the “SS” photograph, is now demanding that the outpost be renamed and the circumstances surrounding the naming of the base be investigated.
MRFF founder Mike Weinstein told msnbc.com that he was contacted by numerous U.S. and Afghan soldiers who were upset about the name of the base and wanted it changed. He said he felt compelled to go forward with a complaint.
The Department of Defense, however, has said it's all a misunderstanding. A military spokesman told the Army Times that the base name was due to a misunderstanding and a misspelling. The spokesman said the name was actually "Combat Outpost Arian," named for a historical Persian tribe from western Afghanistan. Commander William Speaks told the Huffington Post that the word "Arian" is frequently used by Afghans, and pointed to the name Ariana Airlines.
Weinstein called the military's explanation completely bogus. "At first they said it didn't exist, and now they are saying it does exist but that it is a different name."
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Marine Corps on Friday to re-investigate and take appropriate action against the Marine snipers who posed with a logo resembling a notorious Nazi symbol.
The top Marine officer apologized for the incident and ordered his commanders to look into the use of such symbols by snipers and reconnaissance Marines and make sure they are educated on how inappropriate such actions are.
The rapid-fire announcements came on the heels of demands from a leading Jewish organization and others for President Barack Obama to order an investigation into the incident and to hold the troops accountable
Panetta met with Marine Corps Commandant James Amos on Friday to discuss, among other things, a spate of problem incidents involving Marines that have surfaced in recent months. A U.S. defense official said Panetta approved of the actions being taken by Amos to address the problems. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.
An initial Marine investigation into the matter concluded that the troops would not be disciplined because there was no malicious intent. The Marines mistakenly believed the "SS" in the shape of white lightning bolts on the blue flag were a nod to sniper scouts — not members of Adolf Hitler's special unit that murdered millions of Jews, Catholics, gypsies and others, said Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a spokeswoman at Camp Pendleton, California.
NO DOUBT the Obama Administration is thanking Eros that at least the Marines aren't flying the gold-and-white banner of the Vatican and refusing to take up a collection to supply the natives with free Trojans and a lifetime supply of the morning-after pill.
Because we all know that U.S. military personnel glorifying past, militaristic champions of the perfectibility of the human race -- by any means necessary -- is small potatoes compared to fighting the good fight against religious, anti-contraceptive superstition and unscientific backwardness.
Your United States government will get around to that after it's done eradicating the Real Enemy.