Now, ladies and gentlemen, as you know, I was in Afghanistan all week, and I don’t know how many of you had a chance to hear. What were the days I called? I couldn’t keep track of the days over there. It was just a whirlwind. I know I called in Friday. I didn’t Monday. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, okay. Tuesday was the first day I got there. There were nine-and-a-half hours. That’s what I thought. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I’ll tell you what, if the earth has body parts, Afghanistan is certainly one of the hidden ones, if you get my drift. It’s just an amazing place. I have such — and this happens every time I travel, folks. I don’t care where I go. I go to Europe, go to any foreign country, I come back here and am so proud and ecstatic and happy to be an American. But this trip to Afghanistan puts so much or did put so much in perspective for me. I will never, ever again, when I listen to a political debate in this country — and I know all things are relative, but — I’m never, ever again going to listen to, seriously, a bunch of people who want to talk about how rotten the economy is in this country, or how the opportunities in this country are gone; nobody can get a job; we gotta raise the minimum wage. When I hear this hand-wringing over economic circumstances in this country, I’m just going to remember what I saw in Afghanistan, and I wish everybody could see it. You would think you’re in paradise today, if you could go to Afghanistan.
Folks, a 23-hour plane trip back and I didn’t sleep on the plane. What I was doing, I was watching episodes of 24. For this trip I went out and I bought the first three seasons of 24, so on the way over there, I watched. I couldn’t even get one full season in the trip over because there are 24 episodes in a season. Even without the commercials they are about 42 minutes long so I went over there and I watched, I got all but four episodes. I guess I got 20 episodes in on the trip over. I finished on the way back and then started Season 2, just bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam watching them on DVD, and I didn’t sleep. Now, I’ve got myself back on a normal east coast sleep schedule, but I have to admit here I’m still a little — not groggy, just, you know, you need more than a day. They say that you need one day per time zone to normalize. I don’t know how many time zones. It was nine and a half hours, is the time difference. It is, like, for example, right now it’s 9:45 p.m. in Afghanistan. But nevertheless, what I was saying is that just the living conditions in Afghanistan, this is a country that’s been ravaged and torn apart by civil war and other war since the eighties, and, of course, the last bit of damage done to it was by the Taliban. The next time I hear about pollution in America, I’m just going to laugh. Everything that we’ve all learned about, you know, advanced civilizations, technologically advanced and highly progressed civilizations that do great work in cleaning up the messes they make, it’s true. We are a pristine paradise compared to many, many parts of the world.
Afghanistan is just the place most recently saw. It’s not a criticism of the place. These people are over there doing the best that they can and the United States is doing the Lord’s work in this country on so many fronts. Now, I’m aware of one thing. This was not a vacation, but nevertheless, you know, when a family member goes away on a vacation and comes back with all the pictures and the videos and you go, “Yeah, I don’t want to look at that.” You hate hearing people talk about their vacations. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday last week I called in with 30- and 45-minute reports on the day’s activities and all those reports, both the transcripts and the audio are on the website at RushLimbaugh.com, and I don’t know how many of you last week heard because the call-in times were not promoted because I didn’t know specifically when I’d be able to get a phone and get a connection to do this. So I think both the Tuesday and Thursday reports were in the second hour, and the Friday report was in the third hour. But just let me just sum it up. The main reason that I went over there was to visit the troops, and I had four troop visits, and one that was scheduled that didn’t come off, which was scheduled for Friday morning at Bagram Air Force Base. That didn’t happen because, as we were leaving Kandahar, which is the one spot that real combat still goes on. Overnight there was mortar fire that we could hear and see both in and out of the base camp. We left there, or tried to leave there I guess it was eight o’clock on Friday morning, and just as we lifted off we lost an engine, the #4 engine on the C-130. (Interruption) No, I was not scared. This is exciting. I’ve always wanted to fly in a C-130.
They have four engines on the C-130 and the #4 engine is the far outside starboard engine on the right side of the wing, and they just had to feather it, because they didn’t know what happened. There was no fire or any of that. So we did 360s. We flew in circles turning to the right for what seemed like eight, ten minutes at 8,000 feet, trying to see if something could be done to force fuel back into the engine. Nothing could so we had to turn around and go back and we were on the ground there probably for five and a half hours waiting for another flight and by that time it was too late to go Bagram, had to go back to Kabul. It was the late afternoon appointment with President Karzai that we couldn’t meet, so I just didn’t have time. But I did have a chance to ship a bunch of stuff up there to the troops at Bagram, a bunch of EIB stuff. I took a bunch of cigars. What I was hoping to do was have a giant, big smoke session with the troops and have those pictures posted on the website and in our newsletter and at Cigar Aficionado magazine, because the troops love cigars. They have them in the PX over there, but, you know, they’re not the best; they’re not the greatest like I had and took with me. But alas, it didn’t happen. But a number of them did, and I have to tell you, I have more respect and awe and admiration for the people that wear the uniform of this country in Afghanistan, and I’m sure around the world than I had even before I left and I didn’t know how I could appreciate them any more. But I will spend some time during the program updating you as to what happened and what I saw and what our policy is there. It’s relevant because there’s no news coming out of there, literally none and the reason no news is coming out of Afghanistan, and I told the troops this, is because the news is good.
During the Q&A session with the troops at Kandahar, I actually got a couple questions, “How come nobody is talking what we’re doing here?” meaning on the media, and they can get CNN and Fox. I have to tell you, I went in for breakfast when we were in Kabul, and guess who serves breakfast, folks? Halliburton! Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brand & Root serving breakfast — and it was the best food I had all week in US mess halls, and so I’m going through the line, and I saw their hats, KBR, I knew they were Halliburton. I said, “Okay you guys come clean. I know this is all a front. Where you hiding the oil?” and they all just laughed. It was great. But, you know, the situation over there is just breathtaking to behold, and then I told these troops the reason there’s no news coming out of here is because it’s good news. There’s nothing happening here that if there were cameras and microphones and reporters reporting it, it would harm the president’s policy, and I said, “Make no mistake, that’s one of the purposes. There are forces in America that are opposed to a war front, a war policy and so forth, and if there’s no news to report, that means the news that’s happening is good.” I had a great chance to ask them what kind of news they see day and day coming out of America, and it’s not as much as you would think even though they do have Fox, CNN. What I was going to say is eating breakfast every morning, Hannity & Colmes is on. You’re sitting in there at 6:30 in the morning, you know, bumbling around trying to wake up and on the giant big screen in the mess hall is Sean Hannity and Colmes and doing their show, and it’s weird. You know, you’re used to watching that show at nine o’clock at night and there it is essentially a morning show at 6:30, and CNN is on periodically in some places, but not much. Mostly it’s the Fox News Channel that you see them watching over there.
RUSH: If I start at Day One we’ll be here till Tuesday talking about it, and right now I’m facing sensory overload with how much it was, you know, trying to synthesize it all down to the basics. But it ought not be done that way. This is incredibly interesting what’s happening over there. Let me tell you what the effort is all about, what the US policy and purpose there is, and the best way to illustrate it for you is to make a point that I’ve not made before on this program about terrorists and Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and so forth. You look at Osama bin Laden, and if you look at his history, it is obvious what his MO is. Bin Laden’s MO is to focus on countries that are stateless, countries without defined leadership and to go take over, and in a multiple-year reign of terror, bin Laden has focused on three such countries — in order, Somalia, Sudan, and then Afghanistan. Now, one of the purposes of US policy is to establish not democracy. The word is thrown around, but to give the people of these countries the right of self-determination, to choose the kind of government they will have, but to choose it and to actively participate in it. The point is that we in America, especially we conservatives, we trust free people to do the right thing. Now, there are some that don’t trust free people. You know, the elites that look down on free people. “They don’t have the sense, the experience, the knowledge, the judgment to make the right decisions.” They believe in big government.
They believe in big nanny government to do everything for people because they don’t have faith, but we conservatives do. We have ultimate faith in free people. We trust them to do the right thing for themselves. We believe that self-interest is something that triumphs, not selfishness but self-interest is something that triumphs, and so the reason people asked, “Why are we still in Afghanistan, Rush? Al-Qaeda is beat. The Taliban’s beat, they’re gone.” We’re there primarily for the same reason the policy goes on in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East and that is to establish friendly governments, governments friendly to the US. This is a security issue as much as it is anything else. But it’s not only security, but it’s development, because it is felt that developing some of these backward countries, helping them out economically while providing security at the same time for them will all add up to ultimate security for the United States, particularly in these countries such as Afghanistan which have been the home field, if you will, for terrorist organizations to plot, plan, and train for these attacks on us. In fact, February 26th just this past weekend, Saturday, was a big anniversary, big day, the 12-year anniversary of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and that was all part of Al-Qaeda, all part of bin Laden and that was planned and orchestrated right out of Afghanistan as well in the post-civil war era, in that country. We didn’t do anything about it throughout the nineties, just, you know, little catchall responses here and there: cruise missiles.
I was taken to the camp, by the way, where we launched those cruise missiles, the empty training camps of Osama bin Laden. It’s near Kandahar. I saw Tora Bora, saw the caves that we turned to 2,000 degrees. Yeah, saw all this stuff — and so the job that’s being performed not only by the US military, the military is involved in this development. The military changed its strategy. The strategy during the fighting of the war, post-9/11, was to plan major assaults from base locations, send those assault teams out, major numbers we’re talking about and then bring them back after the mission. They changed the tactic and they have dispatched relatively mid-sized teams of soldiers and units throughout the country to deal with the remaining skirmishes that take place with the dwindling numbers of Taliban, and while they’re there, they’re helping these local people in these local communities develop and reconstruct their towns and put together a government structure and they’re helping to teach people. No, the military not doing this, but we also have government aid workers out there, which are teaching literacy, teaching Afghanis how to teach literacy and other things, women are voting now in record numbers, so it’s all kinds of great progress that’s taking place. It’s all oriented toward the notion that a free people working their own self-interests will develop themselves and their own economy in a prosperous fashion, it’s going to take some time, while at the same time increasing our own security, and I think the efforts of all Americans over there in this regard are to be applauded and appreciated.
RUSH: Here is Roxie in Joplin, Missouri, as we start on the phones today. Hi, Rox. Welcome to the program.
CALLER: Thank you.
RUSH: Please, go ahead.
CALLER: Yes. As a mother of a military officer, I wanted to thank you for all your support of the troops and the kind words that you say, and my son got to meet you last week in Kabul. He’s the executive officer at CJ-5 at CENTCOM, and he sent us an e-mail picture of you and him shaking hands and he was really excited and he was really excited for me because he knows I’ve been listening to you since August of 1988, and I quote a lot of your things.
RUSH: Well, I appreciate that. I’ll remember your son when I see a picture of him. You know, the job that they are doing over there, and the warmth with which I was greeted was humbling. I have to tell you folks — and this is the part of what I said to all of the troops that I spoke to over there on stage there. They are out there, 500, 600, 750 at each event. In each event and I’m standing up there and I’m literally in awe of them and I’m more so as I get older. I’m just in awe about what they’re doing and where they’re doing it. You wouldn’t believe it, folks. You simply wouldn’t. There are so few Americans that would volunteer for the military anyway, specifically knowing where they’re going to go, but these people all have and they all do. By the way, let me tell you we’ve posted some pictures. I’m going to be getting reams and reams more, but I had time this morning to send over to Koko at the website. Have you heard about Koko the Gorilla? Have you heard? Folks, I’m sorry for the departure here, but three women have sued Koko the Gorilla for obscene sign language. You will not believe this. They’ve sued the handlers of Koko the Gorilla for teaching Koko some obscene sign language. I’ll have the details in a moment. Koko is also our website director. I sent some pictures the other day of some of the C-130 flight crews that flew us around and some of the other things, but there will be tons and tons more. These are just the pictures that I gave my camera to somebody else to take, and not all of them are usable but I did have some time to send some up there.
Most of them are in fact with the troops. There’s also a little picture of where I stayed in Kabul, not allowed to tell you where it is for obvious reasons because it’s in the green zone there, but it’s a former Taliban residence that has been taken over by the good guys now, but these people just… I stand before them and I told them how much you appreciated them and how much you loved them, and I told them when they come back when they’re flying through airports on their returns to the United States that they’re going to be applauded. There’s more support for them in this country than I can remember at any time in my lifetime. Well, except maybe for the Gulf War in the early nineties. It’s about on that level here. There’s more sophisticated understanding and knowledge of what they’re doing and who they are and appreciation for the job that they’re doing and I looked out at them and they’re all smiling and they’re all optimistic. They’re very proud of what they’re doing. They’re proud of their commitment. They’ve all joined to go over there; they’ve all signed up. They’re over there for a reason and they’re very happy to be doing it, and they’re not living in any conditions that you or I would accept. They’re there for at least a year, sometimes 18 months, sometimes longer. You wouldn’t put up with this on a camping trip. You wouldn’t put up with what they live with on a camping trip, and yet they sign up for it knowingly and willingly and they’re clearly among the best that we have that produce in this country — and I felt small in front of them.
I really did. I’m standing up there, and they’re applauding me, and after every one of these appearances I stood there for each person that wanted one to come through for an individual picture, and I think it was all of them. At Kandahar, that event was 2-1/2 hours. I did about an hour, then there was a half-hour Q&A. I think I took an hour to get all the pictures taken. So many of them when they would get in line and get up to me for the picture would thank me for what I’m doing. I appreciated it and I thanked them, but I’m doing nothing compared to what they’re doing. I’m risking nothing. None of us are risking anything compared to what they’re doing, and this is the message that I wanted to convey to them that. We all have a deep and appreciative understanding of just what it is they’re doing, and I made sure to tell them how much love and appreciation there is for them in this country and to ignore whatever they might see on the news about either their compatriots in Iraq or them, and I told them during the Q&A period, if they wanted questions answered, I answered them and I didn’t pull back. Everybody knows who I am when I go over there. I’m not a diplomat, and they’re asking me, “Why?” For example, one of the questions I got had to do with, “Why does there seem to be so much opposition to what we’re doing here and in Iraq?” And I said, “There isn’t that much. There is some and it gets a lot of attention.” I said, “That’s the point that I wanted to convey to you here.” I said, “Listen to me. We’re in the midst of a very partisan situation at home,” and I asked them not to take any of this criticism of our policies either in Afghanistan or Iraq personally.
I said, “There are some people in America that don’t want the president to succeed but it doesn’t mean they’re opposed to you as troops. It has nothing to do with you personally (wink-wink), but the fact of the matter is there are simply some people who do not want the president to succeed,” and I said, “It’s an amazing thing to be home and to look at the politics of the situation. There are actually some people who have set themselves up politically to only benefit if you fail or if we fail in Iraq.” I said, “It makes no sense to me, but it’s not the majority of the American people.” I said, “Let me give you an example.” I mentioned this in Kandahar; you could have heard a pin drop. They did not know this story. I repeated the story to them about this Reuters dispatch that we got that found problems with the news that battlefield fatalities were down and lower per capita than ever before in the history of American warfare. Battlefield fatalities are down, and I said, “Folks, this news was presented as a problem, and the people that reported the news said it’s a problem because the reason this is happening is because doctors are where they shouldn’t be. Doctors are on the front lines. Doctors ought not be in the front lines, it’s too risky. So doctors are saving more lives and then I pointed out to them as the story also said, that the critics said it may not be worth saving all these lives.” I looked these uniformed men and women in the eye and I said, “Let me tell you what this story said. It said that these battlefield fatality rates are low because we’re saving lives that might not be worth living now, amputees, lose an eye, lose an arm, both arms or what have you. There are actually people, not a majority, but there are people who are reporting that this is bad news,” and I said, “My staff and I, for a day, we tried to figure this out.
“We couldn’t figure why in the world is the fact that battlefield fatalities are at an all-time low a problem. Why are some people upset? And we finally figured out that they are actually hoping for more battlefield fatalities because that will help them gin up anti-war support from their mirroring number of supporters in this country.” I said, “That is going on back home.” I said, “Don’t let it shock you. This is nothing new. It’s always gone on during times of war. There’s always an anti-war movement, but the anti-war movement in America today is not made up of the usual suspects. They’re having trouble he recruiting college students to join. They’re too busy getting an education and trying to get on with their lives. The anti-war protests are made up of the same old suspects from the sixties and seventies except they’re now 50 and 60 years old and are walking around on canes on the protest march,” and they all laughed. I said, “I don’t know if you know this, but back home the American media had a running count as we approached the 1,000th death in Iraq during the campaign as though that number was a magical number that was going to hurt the reelection of the president.” I said, “These are the kind of things that frost me,” talking to the troops here. “These infuriate me, these things. That’s why I wanted to come over here and talk to you and tell you not to fall for this if you see it, not to believe it if you see it, and don’t be demoralized if you see it because it’s not a representative opinion of the people of this country. It’s nowhere near a majority. The vast majority of the American people support and applaud what you are doing.”
You could tell they appreciated hearing it, and I consider it an honor and a privilege to be able to convey this to them. Some asked questions about Social Security and what was going on with that. A lot of them wanted to know about domestic policy in this country. A lot of them wanted to know about a whole bunch of issues. They’re not news-deprived over there. There is news. But it’s sporadic and, you know, basically what it is, is television, and it’s a lot of CNN International, a lot BBC. There is Fox. There is some CNN, but day to day newspapers and this sort of thing it’s hard to get that. A lot of them are online. I ran into a lot of them who are subscribers to my website. Yeah, Hillary and McCain were in Kabul. Well, the same day I was there. I got there on a… You know, I had problems. We went to Dubai. We stayed in Dubai. I think we got into Afghanistan on Monday, in the middle of the afternoon Monday — and we got off the plane and it was bam, bam, bam, bam! Go here; go there; go there; go there — and that night I ended up with three different troop appearances, and it was the next day that Hillary and McCain arrived, that Tuesday morning they… No, because the troops told me they had seen Hillary before I got there. So I’m not sure what the days were, because that time difference messed me all up. I don’t know if it was Monday or Tuesday in America or Monday or Tuesday there when all this was happening, but many of the troops took me aside and said, “You know, Hillary drew about 10% of the numbers that came out to see you here,” and I just smiled and I said, “Thanks.” I’m not surprised, but I think they were in and out in one day. I don’t think they spent the night there. I think they were coming up from Baghdad. They had been in Baghdad Saturday and Sunday and went direct up to Afghanistan, and sped home or wherever they went after that.
I have to tell you, folks, our country is doing the Lord’s work in Afghanistan and that whole region. I tell you, this makes me want to go to Iraq. I want to see what’s going on in Iraq. Now, admittedly, Iraq is still a daily combat battle zone. Afghanistan has slowed down because there’s victory there, but now putting Afghanistan back together and bringing it up to speed in the 21st Century and securing it as a government that is functioning on the part of free people equaling the additional security to the United States is just a massive project. You cannot believe the amount of work to be done to put this country back together. But there are people there doing it step by step each and every day, they are patient, and they’ve chosen it as their life’s work, and that’s what they’re doing. I ran into Americans who live there, have lived there now for two to three years. They’ve made it their life’s work to build this country back — and not just infrastructure-wise, but the people and to help them out of the mind-set they’ve been in for the last 30 years of being controlled by basically terrorist organizations, and everywhere I went I met native Afghani people, and their big fear is that we’re going to leave. They think if we leave that they’ll be wide open. I mean they’ve got Russia on their border; they have got all the other mini-stans on their border. They’ve got Pakistan. They’ve got a huge border with Iran, which worries them, and it is our presence that gives them, the average citizen the confidence to go about and engage in these redevelopment programs.
Folks, I was just telling you what I told the troops over there about this battlefield fatality report and how certain elements in this country found problems with the fact that battlefield fatalities were at an all-time low. Just now USA Today, <a target=new href=”http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-02-28-cover-side_x.htm”> today</a>: “Iraq Injuries Differ from Past Wars: More Amputations and Brain Traumas.” Now, listen to this. “The war in Iraq is producing a group of young combat veterans who face a lifelong struggle to cope with physical wounds so severe, they might not have lived through previous conflicts,” and it goes on to… The timing here is impeccably coincidental because on the heels of this battlefield fatality report, and this battlefield fatality report is probably two months old now, but here comes a similar story. No mention here of battlefield fatality. It’s just that more people are living, but are they going to live quality lives? As though injuries in war, in this particular war, are worse than they’ve ever been. “We’ve never seen anything like it,” and that’s a crock as well. You can see the injured that came out of Vietnam. You can see the injured that came out of World War II. It’s just silly, yet the efforts to drum up anti-war sentiment among the people in this country continue in the mainstream media, but I’m telling you it isn’t going to work. It just isn’t. It’s a different era in America, and I think what these people don’t get is 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11 changed everything. We were attacked. We were hit. It could happen again. The effort is underway now to ensure that it doesn’t or that we do the best we can to ensure that it doesn’t.