GUEST HOST: It’s an honor to have a guest on the Rush Limbaugh program named… Rush Limbaugh. Hi, Rush!
RUSH: (Chuckling.) Tom, how are you?
GUEST HOST: (Laughing.) I’m doing fine.
RUSH: I gotta tell you what happened last night. It was dinner with the troops last night — not tonight. Now, where I am, it’s 10:36 p.m. or 10:37 p.m. We’re nine-and-a-half hours ahead of the Eastern Time zone. Where are you, in LA or Sacramento?
GUEST HOST: I’m in LA, yeah.
RUSH: Okay, so we’re twelve-and-a-half hours ahead of you, Tom. (Laughing.) It’s tonight here, but last night at dinner I had a bunch of guys — well, I addressed some troops last night — and there must have been three or four of them that came up from Sacramento talking about you and praising your work and I went along with it —
GUEST HOST: Thank you.
RUSH: — and one guy came along. Yeah. (Laughs.) One guy came along and said he was from Rio Linda, and everybody in the room knew what that meant and everybody started howling. He said, “Don’t worry, I didn’t finish school there,” and I said, “I can tell.” There’s so many California connections here, and I wanted to tell you: People brought your name up, and they wanted me to pass on the fact if I talked to you to tell you hello, from them.
GUEST HOST: That’s an honor, and I’ve got to tell you, Rush. I’ll just be flat out honest: I am so jealous of you, that you’re getting to do this. You’re doing something. You know what it’s like to sit over here and have all this filtered view of what’s going on over there. You don’t have any filters now.
RUSH: No, and I’ll tell you, it’s such a huge difference I’ve learned. I’ve been here now a little over 36 hours, and I just learned more and I’ve really been absorbing and listening to a lot of things today. Some of the people at this Agency of International Development have stories about mainstream press organizations who have told ’em flat out they’re not interested in covering things over here because there’s nothing going on, when in fact that’s just totally untrue. You have US troops over here in the middle of a number of missions. Every time I see these guys they just… Today, for example, I was honored. I was asked to go be on the front steps of the US Embassy here and to preside over the retiring of the colors. They take the flag down every night and when someone that they want to honor — which still sort of humbles me, being honored by these people — but you go over there and you stand on the steps. There’s a big Marine ceremony.
Three guys participate in taking down the flag, retiring the colors, and folding it, and they presented it to me tonight, which happens to be the 60th anniversary of the lowering of the flag on Iwo Jima after we’d taken that island, so it was a special day. And then they all posed for pictures and wanted autographs. It was just and then went upstairs after that and had about a 45-minute meeting with the ambassador, and we had to cancel some events today because the weather was bad. Interestingly enough, they’ve been building an air traffic control — and I know this will interest you because I know you’re an aviation buff — but they’ve been building their air traffic control system here for a year. It goes into service on April 15th, but get this: Every plane flying over here under 29,000 feet, Tom, is VFR [Visual Flight Rules].
GUEST HOST: Whoa!
RUSH: I mean, they’ve got no radar. They have no instrument landing, no ILS [Instrument Landing System].
GUEST HOST: Yeah, yeah.
RUSH: And we were supposed to take some helicopters today to what are called the PRTs [Provincial Reconstruction Team]. These are military outposts in far-flung corners of the country where work is being done with local communities. This is the best way to fight whatever is left of the insurgency here than to have one big army going out on missions, coming back in two weeks, going out on another mission. They’re just permanent encampment out there where they’re working on women’s literacy and the female vote, and they’re really getting women up to speed in this society, which is going well. So we had a couple substitute events today that did not involve the troops, but tonight, tonight was dinner hosted by the new defense minister here, the minister of defense who is General Wardak, who happened to be the commander of the mujahideen that defeated the Soviet Union back in the 80s when they invaded, and it’s just fascinating to listen to him describe how this little band of mujahideen defeated the Soviets and what he thought were the reasons why the Soviets lost, and interesting — you know what he said? He said the main reason that the Soviets lost — not the main, because he didn’t want to take his forces out of the equation — but the primary reason or a primary reason was the Soviets, for the first time in their history became sensitive to the number of casualties they took and so they built a strategy to avoid taking casualties, and they ended up not doing the rules of war which is “kill people and break things” as they always had throughout their history.
But he had an interesting thing. He showed us a tape from Dan Rather of CBS News that chronicled it was, like, a total of 15 minutes; three five-minute reports that CBS did on their evening news – chronicling his command of this band of mujahideen that defeated the Soviet Union, and I really bonded with this guy tonight. I told him, I said, “General, you invite us all here to your home for dinner to make us watch Dan Rather?” I said, “I came to Afghanistan to get away from Dan Rather.” He laughed real big and said, “Here, watch this,” and Rather reported accurately in the first two of the three series. In the third element of the series, Rather had a big sympathy play for the Soviet Union who was losing soldiers! He had a diary from a Soviet soldier talking about how horrible it was. He made the Soviets, the invaders, sound sympathetic! He portrayed the mujahideen as the evil SOBs. It was just uncanny to sit here and realize: In 2005, nothing’s changed with these people in the mainstream press. But it also chronicled some of the amazing things people have forgotten I think because so much has happened since then about how they were able to bring down the Soviets with American Stingers, shoulder-fired Stingers. There were a number of people from the military there tonight. He is a very popular man here in this country, and he’s a very popular man with the US military. He’s got a very infectious personality, very outgoing and very unassuming.
He’s like a lot of great people I’ve met. He’s very uncomfortable talking about himself, but he is really, really interested. He’s the just another in a long line of Afghanistan people I’ve met here who really hope the US doesn’t leave here. You know, after they had their battle with the Soviets and then they had the civil war and tribal warfare that set the stage for the Taliban to move in and it’s that from which they’re rebuilding. All the destruction here that took place in the last 20 years that has rendered this place in parts similar to bombed-out Dresden, actually is the result of tribal warfare, civil war, and they’re in the process of trying to rebuild it now, and it’s being done with our assistance and it’s being done with the support of a whole lot of people. It’s an amazing thing to see, something that if you don’t come here and see this you won’t see it; you won’t hear about it because the media in America is not interested in what’s going on here because, A, there’s not a whole lot of bad news and there’s not a whole lot of combat going on and so they’re focusing on Iraq. Tomorrow and Friday… I’ve been asked, by the way, for security reasons not to announce in advance where I’m going, so I can’t do that, but both Thursday and Friday are big events at military bases with troops, and both days are just going to be a hoot. I’m looking so forward to it.
It’s an eye-opening experience — as you said, as a prelude leading into this — because there’s nothing like being on-site and seeing something like this, and I find that so many of the Afghani people are really worried we’re going to pull outta here, and I said, “Why? What is the evidence?” You know, “We don’t see any evidence but you abandoned us in the nineties after the Reagan administration was finished and the Bush administration was finished and the Clinton administration came in. You thought we had taken care of the Soviets and that was it, and look what happened,” and so they’re very insistent. They’re very serious here about trying to convince the United States that it’s worthwhile having a serious allied relationship here, and they’re eager to do their part in contributing to things that we might need from them around the world. So it’s interesting to hear their perspectives. The ambassador here is a very sharp guy. He’s fascinating to talk to. He gave a lot of history of the country today, and it just is an ongoing, humbling experience to meet… I had troops that are stationed on top of rooftops today, construction sites looking down to me, and guards at gates asking for a photo and autograph, and as I said the last time I spoke, “I’m over here to thank them, pay homage to them, to try to offer a tribute to them and to show them just how appreciated and loved they are by the people in their country, and they’re over-interested in having me understand how they’re reacting to people who support them.”
So I guess it’s a mutual two-way street over here, but it’s mutually uplifting. It is a fascinating place for somebody, and I think every American ought to see what the people over here live like. There’s no poverty in America compared to what we see here. There’s no such thing as destitution; there’s no such thing as hopelessness. When I hear critics of America talk about our “bad economy” or rotten circumstance here, rotten circumstance there, it drives home the point once again that we’re born into a nation of freedom and prosperity. We take a certain expectation level of prosperity and success for granted. You come over here, and it’s indescribable to see how people live their lives and how they get up and what they must go through, and they’re human beings, and they’re all in the process, or most of them, of trying to improve their circumstances, and they’re doing it with freedom and they’re doing it with… We had a meeting with some women who are leading the literacy movement and the get-out-the-vote-for-women effort today, which was something that we put on the schedule since we weren’t able to travel, and women voting in great numbers over here is something new in the last two years, and we were trying to find out, “Well, why?”
What changed from two years ago to today? And we had to ask a number of them until one of them finally stood up and said, “There’s two things. One is our government finally said we, as women, have human rights,” and I stuck my hand up and said, “Well, the government didn’t say it. The government acknowledged it. You were born with human rights because you’re a human being and you were created so. You finally have a government which is acknowledging it,” and it made them feel confident to stand up to their husbands, brothers and men and go out and vote just like we saw in Iraq. The second thing is: Guess what the most popular media in this country is? It’s radio! More people listen to radio in this country than watch TV and there’s a huge effort. They’ve got talk shows, call-in talk shows that were featured during the presidential campaign. Now, none of this stuff is being reported out of here because none of it makes the Bush administration look bad and none of it makes America look bad and none of it is really bad. So bad news being what gets reported, nothing much is being reported out of here. So I’m happy to have the opportunity. These next two days are going to be fabulous and I can’t wait to tell you about them as they happen.
GUEST HOST: Do you have time to stick around for some questions?
RUSH: Oh, sure, absolutely. Let me relight the cigar here that went out during the break.
GUEST HOST: I’ve got to redirect the program as you can appreciate to the EIB profit center, so (laughs.)
GUEST HOST: We’ll come back in a moment and talk to Rush. He’s in Afghanistan.
GUEST HOST: Tom Sullivan sitting in for Rush, and Rush is in Afghanistan, and we’ve got him on the line from Afghanistan, and, Rush, you know, you hear so much in Iraq about the fact that, “Well, we’ve gotta train their police and their security force, and once that’s done, then we can go about our business of fighting terrorists around the world elsewhere,” and yet you talk about the people there don’t want us to leave. Are we going through that same process there? Are our troops training them for their own security for eventual departure?
RUSH: Yeah. Yeah, they are, and, in fact, there was a report that came out Monday that I saw when I was in Dubai on the Internet, saying that the process at which we are training professional soldiers — not just mujahideen, they’re rebels — but professional soldiers is way ahead of schedule here, and as such we’re sending more professional military trainers over to increase the pace. Now, having said that, the number by, I think, the end of this summer like in the end of June, is going to be 46,000, as opposed to something like 23 or 24,000 that they expected. Also training police, because the military told me they don’t want to get involved with crop eradication and the poppy fields. It’s going to take local police. It’s going to take rule of law. The rule of law is going to have — and that’s true. The rule of law is the moral foundation of a democracy or representative republic, and they’ve got to do that. The military doesn’t want to be the rule of law here or anywhere else, so they’re training a police force.
But as this general tonight, the new minister of defense, General Wardak, told me, “The problem is, our enemy is going to mass an army of a million overnight if they want to overrun us.” Nobody is worried about that happening right now. Everybody’s attention is focused elsewhere. But the US military is trying to do exactly here what they’re doing in Iraq, and it sounds like the success here is a little bit more rapid than what is happening in Iraq.
But, of course, the insurgency… The Taliban has had their ass kicked here, and there are small pockets of them. Nobody is afraid of them anymore. A lot of them are turning themselves in, wanting to change sides. They are expecting, you know, once the snow melts and the spring comes, maybe a Taliban offensive of some kind but they’re prepared for it, and nobody is really concerned about it. So the news outta here is good. The news outta here is positive. The mission objectives are being met. But this all has to happen on the Afghanistan people’s terms. I mean, they’re playing a role in this themselves. This is not nation-building. It’s not an “imposition” of anything, but it is an attempt to speed up the process with assistance and aid — and there are a lot of people over here aside from the military. The Agency for International Development is helping with that. They coordinate with the state department.
They’ve got a great ambassador. Everybody here loves the ambassador from the United States. He goes back to the Reagan administration. He’s a good guy. He’s a political appointee and he’s one of us, and it matters. You know, these things really do matter. You get a political appointee to do the ambassadorial work and do the diplomacy as opposed to a career specialist that really doesn’t want to solve things so he always has a job. I mean, this is people looking to fix things and move on here.
GUEST HOST: What about our troops? We’ve gone through all these Operation A/C and everything else through your program. The troops okay? They got their supplies? What do they need?
RUSH: They’re happy as they can be. They love the care packages from home that have, you know, things that are not stock issue, but the PXs over here are loaded. Hell, you can even… I got a couple cigars at the PX down at the air base! The NATO commander in charge of the airbase [Colonel Kazim Ondul, Afghanistan Provisional Authority Air Commander at Kabul International Airport] is from Turkey, one of the most extraordinary men I have met. He’s a three-star, and we were waiting out there to see if we could depart today, and he gave us his conference room, about 12 of us, and sat there and spent the whole time with us and gave us some Turkish coffee and talked about himself and his role and what he thinks he’s doing. Look it, everybody here in the military — and it’s a coalition force. I can’t… The French are here! The Croatians are here. The Germans are here. The place is teeming with them, and they are all very happy with the success. They’re not down and out about anything here. In fact some of our troops, it’s amazing. I can’t believe how many of them are subscribers to my website. They come up with a color copy, a printed copy of my website the day after I report it or the day I made my first report here and are asking me to sign it. These guys are up! They’re positive. They’re proud of what they’re doing here. They’re proud of their work. They’re proud of their success, and they’re really, really committed to it.
Guess who serves me breakfast every morning, the dreaded Halliburton people, the KBR people, and I’m having fun with them, and I said, “Hey, you guys, where are you hiding the oil?” and they chuckled and laugh. Tom, it’s been a great experience. It really has. Two more days to go and I can’t wait for it. I know you’ve got your break here. I wish I had time to tell you more but I’ll save it because the next two days are going to be loaded. Thank you for taking time to sit in, too.
GUEST HOST: Hey, again, it’s always my honor and pleasure but as I said: I just think what you’re doing is fabulous — and I know you are saying this but I will say it anyway, “Just tell them thank you for all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Rush, good to hear from you and we’ll hear back from another report on the Rush to Afghanistan tour tomorrow.
RUSH: See you later.
GUEST HOST: All right, Rush.