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April 29, 2005
More Signs of the TimesBy Greyhawk
The millions of brave Iraqis who risked their lives to vote in January didn't expect that nearly three months later, their squabbling politicians would still be struggling to form a government. As a result, precious momentum has been lost, and a briefly improving security situation has again started deteriorating. The Sunni-based insurgency seems to have drawn fresh encouragement from the inability of the victorious Shiite and Kurdish parties to put the future of their country ahead of their narrow political agendas.Let's emphasize that last line: The Sunni-based insurgency seems to have drawn fresh encouragement from the inability of the victorious Shiite and Kurdish parties to put the future of their country ahead of their narrow political agendas. "Seems" is the weasel-word in this bile, a legalism that lends deniability to the writer who's made an utterly ridiculous statement of cause-and-effect, with no support available. Are we to seriously consider that at some point in the debate over the exact form of a new government, terrorists who were about to give up murderous rampages for a life of quiet and ease suddenly were re-inspired to forego dental school and become pilots of suicide car bombs? That some leader of this group declared - after some arbitrary time limit was exceeded - that a new wave of kidnappings was needed? That some previously agreed-to deadline had been crossed?
Of course not. Terrorist Violence never went away in Iraq, as readers here well know. Terri Schiavo starved slowly to death, an old Pope passed away and a new one was selected, then front-pages rediscovered Iraq. And this was to be the new mantra of failure, and all the lesser papers would follow the lead of the Times: The Sunni-based insurgency seems to have drawn fresh encouragement from the inability of the victorious Shiite and Kurdish parties to put the future of their country ahead of their narrow political agendas. So it was written, so shall it be.
Except for one thing. On that very day the elected representatives of the people of Iraq announced the cabinet had been chosen. How painful for the Times, who couldn't even stop editorializing in their page one coverage of the news:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 27 - Iraq's new prime minister announced Wednesday that he had submitted a full list of cabinet members, opening the way for a multiethnic government to assume power and end a three-month political stalemate that has appeared to be fueling violence.Emphasis added. Note the weasel word "appeared".
One thing we can't accuse the New York Times of is wasting time . Having had the rug yanked from under them by a reinvigorated government in Iraq, their argument has now morphed overnight into a slightly new variation on the theme. First paragraph, today's editorial:
Three months of jockeying among Iraq's victorious Shiite and Kurdish parties have finally produced a cabinet that won quick ratification from a legislature where those same parties dominate. The January election that began this process was inspiring. The months of petty haggling that followed were not, and while the formation of an elected Iraqi government is a historic moment, its makeup is far from ideal. Crucial choices have been needlessly delayed, and an incomparable opportunity for drawing patriotic Sunni Arabs away from the insurgency was largely squandered.Squandered! Squandered I tell you. This will be the new critical narrative of the defeated - the opportunities of the elections were squandered. Those crucial three months are gone, and cannot be reclaimed. If you wonder why the Times is so eager to declare an elected, sovereign government of a foreign nation a failure, you need only note that the victory of the Iraqi people was an undeniable success for those who support freedom everywhere, and a strong indicator that the war in Iraq was worth the sacrifice. All this is in direct opposition to the editorial policy of the New York Times, and three months is all the opening they needed to reinvigorate their attacks. Insurgents can't respond to events in that narrow time span, can't recruit, re-arm or re-invigorate, but editorial writers can.
There's another aspect of the Times narrative that most people will find repulsive. As noted before, the Times has no problem with the inability of the US Senate, a body drawing on over 200 years of history and tradition, to approve presidential appointments in this country. (For the record, my opinion in both the Iraq and American examples is business as usual. Such is the price of democracy.) Their double standard is inexcusable, and in leering down their noses at the struggling people of Iraq the Times comes dangerously close to accusing "those people" of being incapable of self-government, or sustaining democracy. But sneering at Iraq while ignoring obstruction on the US Senate floor reveals the underlying reality that it's the elected government of the United States that the Times can't abide - the people of Iraq are just collateral damage in their attack, future corpses who's photos will one day help sell newspapers - and fuel more cries of failure.
Least we forget, here's the NY Times on the Iraqi elections, on the day of the elections:
Nearly 22 months after American troops captured Baghdad, lighting a fire of enthusiasm for the freedoms Iraqis had craved so long, it is a measure of how much has gone wrong that Iraqis committed to Western-style democratic ideals can differ so sharply over the best way to secure them. Much of the problem is that the elections are being held under the dominion of the United States.Let's close with a word of praise: The Times is certainly consistent.
Posted by Greyhawk / April 29, 2005 6:43 PM | Permalink
Thought I'd do a blogosphere round-up here before the weekend: La Shawn is blogging from Atlanta. Ace has the latest on how to buy a mind-reading machine off eBay. Michael has a neat graphic showing the reason why English is the official language 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...)
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