Newsprose: The Recruit

By Jerry Adler

"If you and the international community pressure me more, I swear that I am going to join the Taliban," Mr. Karzai said, according to the Parliament member. —New York Times, April 4

"All right, listen up, you sons of dogs! My name is Sergeant Abdullah, and I'm here to whip your sorry asses into a fighting force that can blow up every flea market, taxi stand, and girls' softball team in Kabul. Now, the first rule of basic training is, we pray seven times a day, facing Mecca. If you don't know which way is Mecca, check your GPS. Now ... what is it, Karzai?"

"My cave."

"My cave, sergeant."

"My cave, sergeant. It's awfully damp."

"Caves are like that, Karzai."

"Well, why can't we just ask to use the provincial governor's palace? I stayed there in 2009 and they served me a sheep's-eyeball stew that was out of this world."

"Oh, really? Did you guys hear that? Private Karzai here likes sheep's eyeballs. Any of you guys slaughter a sheep, make sure you save the eyeballs for Karzai." [Uneasy laughter, a few random Kalashnikov rounds.] "Karzai, tell me something: what's with the hat? Weren't you issued a turban?"

"I always wear this hat. Haven't you ever seen a postage stamp, for God's sake?"

"It's a stupid hat."

"Hillary Clinton liked it. She said I looked very dashing in it."

"The cape, too, I'll bet."

"The cape was a present from the president of Turkmenistan. It was woven from the uncut hair of 600 12-year-old virgins." [Raucous laughter, hoots, stamping.]

"Karzai, are you sure you want to join the Taliban? Because if you do, you're going to be doing push-ups for me from now until the return of the 12th imam. Do you think you might have a problem with that?"

"Just a minute, sergeant, I'm getting a call."  [Turns to servant behind him, who hands him a satellite phone.]

"Private! Don't answer that phone! You want a Predator up your ass? Drop and give me 20!"

"I'll just be a minute, you keep doing what you have to, sergeant ... [Drops down and begins doing push-ups while the servant holds the phone to his ear.] What? How much? Was that 20 million or ... with a B? Dollars? OK, tell them I accept. No, wait: call Tom Friedman. Pretend you haven't spoken with me. Tell him you think I will agree for ... say 25. That's ... S--t! Where's everyone running? Are we through for the day or ..."

[Fade to black.]