Greetings! You are reading an article from The Mudville Gazette. To reach the front page, with all the latest news and views, click the logo above or "main" below. Thanks for stopping by!
February 20, 2004
The Original "Cut and Run"By Greyhawk
Gallup reports that most American's don't know or don't care about "questions raised about George W. Bush's National Guard service". Expect a few pundits to declare that a failure of a Democratic strategy. Perhaps it is.
Or perhaps not. It's a failure unless the object was to get all questions of military service off the table. I'll maintain that's exactly the point. In reality, Bush's service was rather unremarkable, except for the fact that he served at all, and that his service was certainly not in a "cushy job".
And if eliminating the question was the desire, then the ploy was a success. American's don't care. In fact, one possible interpretation of the results would be that Americans will get very tired of hearing about anyone's service very soon.
But another result of the poll says that
Still, there are lingering doubts about Bush's military service more generally. The public is divided as to whether the characteristic or quality, "did his duty for the country during the Vietnam War," applies to Bush: 42% say the statement applies to Bush and 40% say the statement does not apply to him (18% have no opinion). In contrast, 68% say that characteristic or quality applies to Kerry, with 11% saying it does not and 21% not expressing an opinion.
Kerry's wartime activities are unknown to many Americans -- less than half (49%) have heard a great deal or moderate amount about his combat experience in Vietnam. Even fewer, 39%, have heard much about Kerry's anti-war activities after he returned from Vietnam.
So although less than half know anything about Kerry's service, 70% characterize him as having "done his bit".
So, a failed strategy? Hardly. Because it's Kerry's service that bears a bit more scrutiny (though as previously stated, everyone's tired of hearing about that now aren't they?)
I'll rephrase and expand an as-yet unanswered question asked earlier:
Although fully trained and completely fit for duty, Kerry abandoned his command (within the rules) after less then four months, leaving his men to adapt to a new situation at the height of the war. Are there any other examples that any one is aware of where officers took similar actions during the Vietnam war? Or any other conflict?
I maintain that Kerry's choice to "cut and run" with his three purple hearts was a rare event, and not indicative of the mindset of officers then, now, or ever. I've never heard of such a thing, and I have nearly 20 years of active duty and a family with well over a century of service in every branch of the military from 1942 to now. I could be wrong; if this sort of thing were common it could explain a lot of setbacks America sustained during the conflict.
I am aware of one comparison. The officers of the Iraqi army were said to have abandoned their men at the front (they "pulled a Kerry", if you will) prior to onset of ground operations in Desert Storm. This action is cited as a significant reason why the ground war was over before it started.
The Bush team, however, will choose other avenues to illustrate the many failures of John F. Kerry, to include his subsequent anti-war actions. Expect Kerry's handlers to scream "dirty tricks" at this use of their man's actual record:
"The beauty of John Kerry is 32 years of votes and public pronouncements," said Mark McKinnon, the (Bush campaign) chief media adviser. McKinnon suggested a possible tag line: "He's been wrong for 32 years, he's wrong now."
Indeed, but for now our question is this: "Were Kerry's actions in abandoning his command rare or common among American officers in time of war?
Comments are open.
Update: The screaming has begun. And though Bush & co have yet to "attack" Kerry on his actions during or immediately after Vietnam the Dems are insisting that he is. And don't miss this entry at Wizbang.
Posted by Greyhawk / February 20, 2004 10:59 PM | Permalink
I get frustrated not being able to read everything posted on the web. I look at Sarah's latest post, which takes me to Annika's site, which takes me to Danny O'Brien's analysis of the Dean implosion. (Whew!) Danny educates us... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com