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April 2, 2005
Iraq's Sunnis Urged to Join Army, PoliceBy Greyhawk
The latest news from Iraq is that Sunni clerics are urging their followers to join the military and police forces. On the surface this sounds like another step towards peace and cooperation between all parties in Iraq, and we'll certainly hope that it is. But a look at the coverage in the Washington Post and the New York Times reinforces the concept that in Iraq, nothing is as it seems.
Pay close attention to the future actions of the Association of Muslim Scholars, perhaps the most influential organization among Iraq's Sunni population. The American media acknowledges that fact but generally neglects to reveal everything it could about them. The Times, for instance, describes the group's actions in this manner:
In the past, members of the association have often complained about injustices committed by Iraqi soldiers and police officers and by the American military.Which is true, but leaves out details. The 'injustices' referred to include this response to the American/Iraqi assault on the terrorist-held city of Samarra last fall, a warm-up to the attack on Fallujah.
"The hospital is full of bodies, children are buried in the gardens, and there are bodies filling the streets," said Muhammad Bashar al-Faidhi, one of the members of the group in Baghdad who said he was basing his accusations on witness accounts. It was impossible to independently verify his claims.Most other descriptions of the scene - including those from reporters - varied significantly from that dramatic visual. Recall that the much-larger assault on Fallujah began with the capture of the hospital in response to those earlier claims.
Iraq the Model presented some evidence of the group's financial support to terrorist groups and ties to the former regime. This would seem to be conventional wisdom among the people of Iraq. The "scholars" were also responsible for the lack of Sunni participation in the January elections.
"After the judicial committee of the Jihad Organization interrogated the Italian captive Giuliana Sgrena, it has been found that the Italian captive is not involved in spying for the infidels in Iraq," the group said in a statement posted on a website that frequently carries messages from Islamic militants.It's widely suspected that the Italian government paid a large ransom for her return.
The Iraqi army and police forces are assumed to have been infiltrated by terrorists, former regime loyalists, etc. Many of the difficulties in launching these organizations (public beheadings of captured Iraqi soldiers, etc.) were likely caused by these 'troops'. It will be interesting to see if the Association of Muslim Scholars will actively encourage it's adherents to seek training from the police and military too. (Wink wink...) This is either the next step towards lasting peace, or the first phase of a new war.
The great game indeed.
Posted by Greyhawk / April 2, 2005 6:33 PM | Permalink
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.
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