Getting baked before shooting AKs at the Taliban: a bad idea.

Wired defense technology blogger Noah Shachtman says,

Smoking weed can improve your performance in all sorts of activities -- from playing reggae music to watching Battlestar Galactica to writing blog posts.

If you're an already ill-trained, semi-motivated soldier in the Afghan Army, however, spliffs are a particularly poor way to prepare for battle, as this little clip illustrates..

Link to post, which includes more happy fun stoner warfare video goodness. Hey, how do you say, "Duuuuuude... what?" in Pashto? Your answers welcomed in the comments.


  1. You do know that the derivation of assassin is “hashishm”, right? They used to get wasted on hashish and run around killing people: Wiki

  2. When you say ‘a bad idea’, do you mean a phenomenological ‘bad’ or an epistemological ‘bad’?

  3. Couldn’t hoit… As long as you’re killing fellow humans, why not be doped up? You can argue the point of justification (i.e. to prevent the enemy from killing you or yours) and I’ll even agree, but it comes down to killing. Better to be doped to sub-human levels (where it’s somewhat excusable) rather than fully cognizant of what you’re doing (where you’re a murderer).

  4. I don’t think a bullet struck the magazine.
    It’s lame when they bend the facts to present a preconceived take on marijuana use.

    I mean, what do Afghan soldiers know about warfare?
    (clearly not as much as the narrator)


  5. I can quit if I want to. It’s just that it gives me the confidence to climb all those tower stairs.

  6. #6 posted by glace neuf , April 25, 2008 12:36 PM

    ever fought the taliban….. on weed?


  7. Walking out into the line of fire might have as much to do with Inshallah as it does with being medicated.

  8. Clearly, the round (if it was in fact a bullet that caused it) didn’t hit the magazine. You can still see the magazine safely in the weapon @ 00:46. In fact, I’d suspect that it was more likely a crappy round in the afghans own rifle that caused an over pressure upon firing, making the top cover of the AK’s action blast off from the escaping gas.

  9. One thing’s looking likely: incidence of PTSD among the Pashto stoner militias significantly lower than among the occupying forces.

  10. That piece of metal came from a few inches back of the muzzle. Watching the clip a couple times, it looks like the gas tube ruptured when he fired his final round. That’s the only thing on top of an AK that would be that long and made of metal. When he’s walking back towards the rest of the people, it appears that his AK is missing the gasport and tube assembly, but it’s very hard to tell.

  11. I was going to say that the original “assassins” were heavy hash smokers, as assassin and hashish share the same root, but it appears the sect in question (Hashshashin) were labeled with the “hash-smoker” epithet by their enemies, and may not have actually indulged.

    The brother of one of my college professors was a Vietnam vet, and insisted that there was nothing cooler than firing automatic weapons when extremely high (I recall he mentioned something about “blood spurting” too– no joke.)

  12. The people called “Assassins” by the Sunni infidels are the followers of his Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV — aka the Aga Khan, international jet set member extraordinaire, confidant of the royal families of western Europe, and direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon his name).

    They are a credit to any community they inhabit, unless you fuck with them. Anyone who attempts to attack their people suddenly has no leadership, for no discernable reason. They are the most peaceful people imaginable, because nobody in his right mind ever messes with them in any way. I think the last guy that tried was probably Sal-al-din and he changed his mind in a big hurry.

    There are at least 20 million of them, and there are thousands of them living in any reasonably advanced nation. They are properly called the Shia Imami Nizari Ismaili Muslims. If you understand Islam, they are twelvers, and the Aga Khan is the 49th iman.

    Us medievalists know this stuff. ;)


  13. If I recall from a few posts back, “It’s only a plant.”

    Why is it OK for Mom & Dad to do child care while stoned, but it’s not OK to shoot at your enemies? (OK — That’s a bit far fetched, and I don’t even agree with my logic!)

    But still, boingboingers were all is support of pot smoking and telling kids that there’s nothing wrong with it… but now we’re talking about soldiers.

    It’s true that a man with a gun shoudn’t be stoned… but neither should a mom with a frying pan on the stove making breakfast for little Timmy.

  14. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, QSD, and I didn’t comment on the previous thread, but I’d say it’s much more a question of context than identity. It wouldn’t be a problem for soldiers to smoke, it just seems extremely unwise to smoke in situations where your life quite literally depends on your level of alertness and your reaction time. If you encounter such situations in your kitchen on a regular basis, I suggest you contact your landlord or a local contractor, but I’d wager that for most people frying an egg at the stove doesn’t offer quite the same level of risk.

    This is not to condone getting high when you’re responsible for overseeing an infant’s welfare, of course … it just strikes me as inappropriate for a whole variety of other reasons above and beyond some hypothetical threat it might pose to the mother or child’s health. What’s far more likely to happen is something requiring urgent action that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the parent was smoking … it’s just that being high could make it much more difficult, and even risky, to respond quickly and effectively.

  15. #23:

    “Chip pan fires are responsible for 25% of fire related injury in the UK”

    I’m certainly not saying that these people were all stoned… just that being stoned (I used to be a heavy pot smoker) can make it so that you’re not paying very close attention and you tend to do stupid things.

    Of course it’s a matter of context, as you said. And of course it’s much more stupid to get stoned when in combat.

    In general people who do stupid things (like spend their afternoons arguing on boingboing… like me), do them more frequently when stoned.

    Before all the anti-QSD posters come out of the woods (i.e., Takuan) — don’t sweat it. I’m not that attached to my opinion on this one. After all, I used to get baked at every available moment.

  16. the weed certainly isn’t helping me write a witty response to this post… in fact, i’ve already forgotten what it was about.

  17. #16 It’s not the gas tube, it’s the receiver cover. On an AK it’s just a thin piece of metal held on by spring pressure, and a bullet strike could easily knock it off with that ringing sound.

    Gas tubes on the AK are well-vented and large diameter, fed by a small port in the barrel. To blow one up, you’d need such high pressures that the barrel itself would blow first, or you’d have case separation at the chamber. In either event, there’d be a lot of smoke and the burning and the “Hey, hey, hey it hurts me.”

  18. #29,

    The puff of gas/smoke seemed awfully far forward and not in line with the muzzle, right above the sling swivel. The part is clearly metal, you can hear it when it hits the ground. It’s longer than the wood handguard/heat shield that covers the top of the gas tube/barrel.

    Now that you’ve pointed it out, I do agree with your assessment of the likelihood of a gas tube failure. I’ll defer to you, having watched it a couple more times now. (I must have watched that video 25 times today.)

  19. 25:


    (That might not make any sense to anyone who’s not Australian and born prior to 1977…)

  20. I have never been so stoned that I couldn’t be 100% back to reality and completely level-headed instantly if a situation demanded it. I have however, been drunk enough to screw up something serious if it had occurred. The difference was in the physical ability to react in the manner my brain demanded, not in processing power or its timeliness .

    With that in mind, I have always had some small part of my consciousness remain sober and vigilant, no matter how inebriated I’ve been–my impression is that this is pretty common, based on the nature of the reactions of friends whom I’ve asked about that perception.

    I think what we’re seeing here is more shell shock than stoniness.

  21. “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    – Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons.
    No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

    What candles may be held to speed them all?
    Not in The hands of boys but in their eyes
    Shall shine The holy glimmers of goodbyes.
    The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
    Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds. “

  22. Chef: Lance, hey Lance. What do you think?
    Lance: It’s beautiful.
    Chef: What’s the matter with you? You’re acting kinda weird.
    Lance: Hey, you know that last tab of acid I was saving? I dropped it.
    Chef: You dropped acid?… Far out.

  23. #12: That wiki post is suspect IMO (maybe it’s all the disclaimers at the top)

    I had always learned that the assassins (hashshim) smoked to forget about the murderous sins they were committing.

    Seems a fitting motivation, somehow, for soldiers to do the same thing…

  24. No no no, you never ever cook after you smoke. You cook first, then you get baked, then you eat.

    Bong hits before baking or even boiling can be terribly terribly dangerous. I once over salted a perfectly good homemade chicken soup.

  25. it was my understanding that the hashishin used the hash as kind of an incense to get prospective assassins stoned then, after they passed out, take them to a ‘paradise’ to show them what awaited them upon completion of the deed. they would then be sent out on their mission of death and dismemberment with the promise of 72 virgins waiting in the wings. good times.

  26. different versions.

    Examine any war: draftees (real and de-facto) invariably get as intoxicated as supplies allow, anywhere near the battlefront. Wouldn’t you?

  27. Not sure about Pashto, but in Persian (very closely related to Dari), the word for smoke (the noun) sounds exactly like the English word “dude.”

    Freaky, huh?

  28. link
    “According to research by British scientists a moderate amount of cannabis may actually improve driving performance. Subjects under cannabis scored superior than the sober subjects in most of the tasks including reaction time and number of collisions. The director of the laboratory where the studies were conducted said: “The results of our test clearly show that a small or moderate amount of cannabis is actually quite beneficial to someone’s driving performance.”
    (Source: Evening News of 24 January 2004)

  29. I’m all for smoking weed, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t smoke it before an attack. Not only would it throw off my aim and probably cause me to forget what was going on for a bit, it would completely deplete me of any ambition to kill anyone.

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