There were many conspiracies for why and how 9/11 happened and why the US was so quick to attack Afghanistan, especially after having just hosted equally numerous members of the Taliban on US soil in talks to open a trans-Afghan pipeline. And I must admit that I was one of the greatest critics of the war. "Let these people destroy themselves over religion if they want to," I often thought to myself, meaning: we should not be there.
But we are there. More than 30 countries have sent troops and support to Camp Bastion alone. Estonia is there not because of nostalgia for Afghanistan, but because Estonia wants to participate in world affairs. How much criticism of NATO membership is there? Not much. Estonia either participates or it does not. You can't pick and choose when to ante up simply based on your personal preferences. The men and women of Estonia serving at Camp Bastion are entitled to entertainment, just as the men and women of any nationality are. Plus, what a great experience for the performers! Those reasons are why we went.
Other Estonian entertainers were asked to go. Their fees were too high for the military to justify or afford. We were invited and went for no fee. Let me make this clear: Estonian entertainers demanded money to entertain Estonian troops, and they are not criticized, yet we went for no fee, and are catching hell for it.
Another criticism of our going is how much it cost to get us there. I would like to point out that the Estonian military presence at Camp Bastion enjoys three robust British meals a day, not to mention the infrastructure of the camp itself. They also ride on British RAF flights, as did we.
To catch one of these flights, they must first get to Tallinn Airport using infrastructure largely funded by the EU - by the taxpayers of other countries. To damn us for supporting the war simply by entertaining Estonian and other EU troops is akin to criticizing coffee drinkers for supporting South American drug lords (who also grow coffee) or homeowners who heat their homes with Russian natural gas (you're helping to oppress the Russian people by sending profits to Putin). You also pay taxes to support Edgar Savisaar’s book-royalties habit.
Our detractors are scapegoating us because they want to. My suggestion to them would be to fight the source of the problem (US corporate racketeering), and not pick on the entertainers. And if you choose the former, I'll be right there with you.
Stewart Johnson is one-half of the main act of Comedy Estonia, the other being Louis Zezeran. The two of them, along with comic Andy Valvur, were in Afghanistan last week. The above piece represents only his own opinions.