It was easy to guess why the American had been selected to deliver the message: other countries in the NATO alliance were describing their presence as a humanitarian gesture. A British minister infamously predicted the military surge would happen without a shot fired, and the Canadian military was pushing journalists to write about medical programs. By contrast, the Americans advertised their willingness to draw blood. The US colonel aimed his words directly at the insurgents: “If they want to die, stay,” he said. “If they don’t want to die, give up.” This prompted a look of discomfort from a Canadian press officer, who immediately tried to soften the message.
“I would simply add that…” he said.
“I thought I answered it pretty good,” said the American colonel, with a smile at the journalists. The Afghan press didn’t get the joke, however, because to them differences among the foreigners were hard to understand. They found it difficult to imagine that English-speaking soldiers who wore similar uniforms, carried the same weapons and fought on the same side would have fundamental disagreements about the war. They saw all of us as Americans.
Smith, Graeme. The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan. Knopf Canada, Toronto. 2013. p. 58-9. Italics in original