“After Vietnam and the stinging Washington scandals of the 1970's many [CIA] case officers feared local political entanglements, especially in violent covert operations. Many of them had vowed after Vietnam that there would be no more CIA-lead quixotic quests for Third World hearts and minds. In Afghanistan, they said, the CIA would stick to its legal authority: mules, money, and mortars. For many in the CIA the Afghan Jihad was about killing Soviets first and last. [CIA officer Howard] Hart even suggested that the Pakistanis put a bounty out on Soviet soldiers: 10,000 rupees for a Special Forces soldier, 5,000 for a conscript, and double in either case if the prisoners were brought in alive. This was payback for Soviet aid to the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, and for many CIA officers who had served in that war it was personal.”

Steve Coll
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

“One morning in May, on the front page of The New York Times, there was a photograph of a soldier firing his rifle at Taliban attackers from the ramparts of Fire Base Restrepo in Afghanastan. An Associated Press photographer had captured Specialist Zachary Boyd defending his Fire Base dressed in helmet, body armor, flip flops, and pink boxer shorts with little red hearts in which were printed, ‘I Love New York’. I burst out laughing. Any soldier who goes into battle against the Taliban in pink boxers and flip flops has a special kind of courage, I said publicly. What an incredible innovation in psychological warfare. I loved that picture so much that an enlargement hung on the wall outside my office for two years.”

former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates
Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

“I can't always be in the wild. Sometimes I have to be in places that smell of fear, fumes, and ambition. When I'm there it helps very much to know that badgers are asleep inside a Welsh hill, that an otter is turning over stones in one of the Rockford pools, that a fox is blinking in the same sun that makes me sweat in my tweed coat, that a red stag is cutting amongst ghost trees by a stone circle near Hoar Oak, and that there's a swift hatched above my Oxford study hunting almost beyond human sight in the high, hot blue over the Congo River. That these things should be a comfort is strange. They should taunt, not comfort. They should say, ‘you're not there—ha, ha, ha’. Why does that not happen? Well, I note that I get a similar sense of comfort only from being assured of the continued existence of things, and notably people, that, whatever love is, I love. Perhaps then, whatever love means, I love these creatures.”

Charles Foster
Being a Beast