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November 19, 2004
Fish Gotta Swim...By Greyhawk
It's a good thing we're communicating by written words now rather than spoken, because there's a helicopter parked about 50 yards from me, still running, an ambulance next to it with a guy on a stretcher in between. It's loud - but it's also dark out right now so I can't see if it's an American on that stretcher or an Iraqi. Whoever it is they're on their way out now.
It's gone. That's better - it's much quieter. Quiet is better because you can hear the incoming rockets.
Trivia test 1: Which of the following is an actual quote from Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi regarding the insurgents in Fallujah on the eve of the assault?
A: "The insurgents have known for months that we're coming - go ye now forth and wound them, then patch them up and make them promise to stop killing children, and beheading people, and shooting Iraqi aid workers. Make them say "I'm sorry" for the atrocities they committed in the name of Saddam Hussein too. Ensure they are sincere, accept nothing less than pinky swears, and then and only then let them go in peace. Remember, we are in the business of winning hearts and minds!"
"Pinky swears! Pinky swears!" Chanted the wildly enthusiastic soldiers. Allawi replied: "Hearts and minds!"
B: "The people of Fallujah have been taken hostage ... and you need to free them from their grip," Allawi told Iraqi soldiers on Monday during a visit to the main U.S. base outside Fallujah.
"May they go to hell!" the soldiers shouted. Allawi replied: "To hell they will go."
It may surprise many of you that the correct answer is 'B'. But in fact it's the only answer. And there's no "third way" in between the two. Armies function on an "on/off" switch - those who would have it otherwise are fools.
Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly...
Donald Sensing (who I'm overjoyed to see blogging again) has a great post on the likely fate of the Marine from Fallujah. I don't need to say which Marine, do I? I don't think I need say more than the Reverend on that topic at all.
I don't have time for TV here, so I rely on internet sources for information. A check of the web's major mainstream news sites shows very little banner coverage of the shooting in Fallujah. Guess it's a TV moment - lacking video the story just isn't big. That and the fact that it happened on the wrong Tuesday in November. It must be huge on TV though, cause the blogs are sure all over it, making it out to be the biggest story since last week, when Fallujah was attacked and Jihadis everywhere declared they would destroy us all.
I can see why it would be big on TV, especially big screen American TVs; a group of men enters a room occupied by other men who'd very recently been trying to kill them. Not just any room - it's a room in a place of worship, although its sanctity has been defiled by those same shooters. Now they lie prone, the fight apparently taken out of them. Still all those men walking in are ready to shoot - they know this enemy too well - and now one in fact is shooting. Each is doing his job, it's that simple. Simple but intensely compelling, a riveting situation, to say the least.
A professional knows his business and does it well. I wasn't in that room - I wasn't in that town - but I trust those who were did what they had to do. I won't second guess them. He had to shoot, don't you agree? It was his job. The military sent him in, sanctioned his actions, flipped the "on" switch, so to speak. That's the price you pay for freedom - ugliness on the edges, sometimes thrust into your dining rooms. I'm on that edge - or at least most likely closer than you - that's the price I pay for freedom. You just have to look at it from time to time from your safe place in the center, and comment on it if you're so inclined.
In spite of all this - the fact that none of us were there but this guy was, and he was doing his job that was sanctioned by military command and control authority - in spite of all this an amazing number of people are eager to condemn him for the shooting.
Trivia test two: I'm talking about
A. A Marine shooting an enemy in combat.
B. Kevin Sites shooting video.
C. All of the above.
Trivia 3: Which side's soldiers died in Fallujah while defending freedom of the press?
Don't betray their memory.
Damn - it's late and there's another helicopter. No problem, I sleep through that noise all the time.
Good night America, sweet dreams to you all.
Posted by Greyhawk / November 19, 2004 3:58 PM | Permalink
Nov. 20 - Sharing some good links: There's a lot of interesting posts on the startling backlash in Holland to the murder of Theo Van Gogh starting with Jujitsui Generis: A Clash of Civilizations? (link via The Transplanted Texan.) It... Read More
Some must reads. Greyhawk: It's a good thing we're communicating by written words now rather than spoken, because there's a helicopter parked about 50 yards from me, still running, an ambulance next to it with a guy on a stretcher... Read More
Iraq link roundup: Greyhawk: It's a good thing we're communicating by written words now rather than spoken, because there's a helicopter parked about 50 yards from me, still running, an ambulance next to it with a guy on a stretcher... 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