Thursday, August 4, 2011

Catsurgency Strikes US Embassy Kabul, Guerrilla Tactics Playing Out in Full Force

CatsImage via WikipediaApparently some 25 to 30 felines populate "the downtown diplomatic campus" of the US Embassy in Kabul.  And there is a bizarre battle over their fate according to WaPo's Joshua Partlow. Three choices are at play -- kill them, save them or fly them to Berkeley.

It would not be a true diplomatic mission without a committee, so of course, there is a cat committee to tackle this problem. Although by the looks of it, Ambassador Crocker may need to appoint a super-committee to sort this all out. Excerpts:

Working in Kabul is not easy. Staffers endure endless hours and monotonous food, walled off from the city where they work and a world away from their loved ones. Plus there’s the nagging threat that people want to kill them. The embassy bar is called the Duck and Cover.

“We basically can’t go out at all. We can’t walk across the street; we have to take a tunnel. There are no kids, no families, and basically what we have is the cats,” said one member of the committee. “It’s as close as we come to normality.”
Amid the diplomatic politesse of meetings and draft proposals, some interesting guerrilla tactics emerged. Taking a page from the Taliban’s book, someone taped a night letter on the wall of the Duck and Cover. “Warning,” it read, above an image of two insurgent cats toting AK-47s, “we will break out our fellow comrades from your compound.”

Another flier that popped up in USAID offices pictured a cat in a Guevaraesque beret: “Viva la revolucion,” it read, signed El Gato.

A more sensitive soul composed an ode under the nom de plume Bacon and the Katz. It began: “Why oh why must we die?”

“Most of you will return to the US where the living is easy and good / We apologize if our actions (purring and eating) have been misunderstood. / Please do not despise us nor wish for our demise / We cannot help it that we have cat’s eyes.”
I hope to bring you the news when the compound break out happens.  Read the whole thing here.

Here is a comment over in WaPo from somebody named dcusa48:

I am one of the "cat ladies" at the Embassy and proud of it. This article implies that we are a group of women who have nothing better to do than pet cats. We are serving our country here. This is not a tea social where bored women get together to save cats as this article implies.There are as many men on the cat committee as women and they are just as dedicated to see the cats here, many of which have been here far longer than anyone stationed here, are not treated inhumanely. The article does not point out that in the past the preferred "humane" method of euthanasia at the Embassy has been poison or taking the cats out and shooting them. The official cat committee is a part of the management's Safety, Health and Environmental Committee. Most of the cats at the Embassy have been vaccinated and neutered. If they get sick or injured, they are carried to a local animal clinic. As I write this, we are in the middle of a "duck and cover" that is not a drill. This is not a fun place and if I choose to pet a cat to alleviate stress rather than drinking myself into a coma at the Embassy bar as many do, then that should be my choice. Don't we have enough to worry about in the U.S. and in Afghanistan without having to fight battles over the cats that provide so many people here with a little bit of home.

Cat vs. coma, sounds like a no brainer, but hey, it's the war zone, stranger things have happened. I'm just waiting for the cats to open their Twitter account and expand their  tactics with public diplomacy. 


Received via email from M.C.:
Catsurgent from the sixth floor of the book depository in Kabul…….they’re everywhere….

WaPo: Lloyd Stevenson, Fairfax
Living like fat cats at U.S. Embassy in Rome


Donna said...

Here in Amman, where we have lots of military attaches, we have a group of CATtaches who raise money to spay and neuter the strays. It's a good program.

Domani Spero said...

Kabul needs its own CATtaches! If I were a cat in Kabul, I definitely would rather be in Berkeley instead of in front of a firing squad. That is if I can bring all my friends and relations!

James Schumaker said...

Embassy Moscow had a similar problem back in the 1990's. Our cats were called "NOB cats" because they seemed to congregate around the New Office Building. The cats mysteriously disappeared a few years later -- I never found out exactly what happened to them, but in view of the locale, summary trial, confession and liquidation is the likely explanation.

Domani Spero said...

Thanks JS! Somewhere they must be called NEC cats now!

Also received in the mail:
Catsurgent from the sixth floor of the book depository in Kabul…….they’re everywhere….