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!
July 26, 2005
Auf die Truppen scheißenBy Greyhawk
Seems to me whenever I read something in the paper actually written by a soldier it looks like this:
On June 16, 2004, I willingly said goodbye to my wife and parents in a parking lot at Fort Drum, N.Y., not knowing if I would ever see them again. I don't expect any kinds of praise for this or special thanks because that is my job, and I knowingly volunteered for it. I never would have done that if I did not believe that I was defending this great country of ours and all those in it.That's from Lt David Lucas, just back from Iraq, and writing in his hometown paper. He also notes this (and it's the most commonly expressed complaint I've ever heard from GIs back from Iraq):
I know that the war my men and I fought is a totally different war than the one I see being reported by almost the entire media.
In a nutshell, I think most GIs back from Iraq would say they served willingly and gladly, but would appreciate it if they didn't have to fight one enemy in Iraq and another in the States. It's not surprising that some in the media might make efforts to deny that problem.
Or worse, fabricate their own version of what soldier's want. According to the New York Times, soldiers in Iraq and around the world are demanding that Americans begin making more sacrifices for the war:
What a coincidence - the soldiers' alleged demands for higher taxes and conscription to fill military ranks are solid planks in the Democratic Party's platform.
Here are all the actual quotes from soldiers in the story:
"Nobody in America is asked to sacrifice, except us," said one officer just back from a yearlong tour in Iraq...and
"For most Americans," said an officer with a year's experience in Iraq, "their role in the war on terror is limited to the slight inconvenience of arriving at the airport a few hours early."
If I were a cynic, I'd propose that "one officer just back from a yearlong tour in Iraq" and "an officer with a year's experience in Iraq" were the same person. But I'm not cynical (/cynicism) so I'll simply note that neither quote supports the story's claims. Every military person I know is quite proud of the fact that due to their service Americans are not suffering - as both "one officer" and "an officer" noted. I've never heard a US soldier demand that Americans suffer more.
Let me emphasize that, because it's crucial: I've never heard a US soldier demand that Americans suffer more.
Here's the third and last quote in the piece from a soldier:
While officers and enlisted personnel say they enjoy symbolic signs of support, and the high ratings the military now enjoys in public opinion polls, "that's just not enough," said a one-star officer who served in Iraq. "There has to be more," he added.
I'm sure that "one-star officer who served in Iraq" is a different person than "an officer" and "one officer", both of whom also had served in Iraq, but once again I see a factual statement that in no way supports the author's claims.
Of course, given that this is a New York Times article, we can't know for sure whether the story was written by the person who's name is on it or by an editor who simply added numerous sentences, clauses, or paragraphs to suit his own purposes.
That's what they recently did to Phil Carter, after all. Rather brazenly editing in phrases to his oped that had nothing whatsoever to do with his piece.
I'll let them explain, without changing any of the words:
The Op-Ed page in some copies of Wednesday's newspaper carried an incorrect version of the below article about military recruitment. The article also briefly appeared on NYTimes.com before it was removed. The writer, an Army reserve officer, did not say, "Imagine my surprise the other day when I received orders to report to Fort Campbell, Ky., next Sunday," nor did he characterize his recent call-up to active duty as the precursor to a "surprise tour of Iraq." That language was added by an editor and was to have been removed before the article was published. Because of a production error, it was not. The Times regrets the error.They explained it further afterward:
"Within 10 minutes" after receiving the changes, he recalled, "I said, 'No way.' Those were not words I would have said. It left the impression that I was conscripted." His call-up was "not a surprise," he told me, because he had actually "volunteered" for mobilization. (It's not clear when the editors first learned that he had volunteered for active duty.)
That time I added emphasis - making the last line bold. It's curious, that not writers bit - considering that Phil has a great, well written blog, has been published in Slate (more than just that one link), and also at least once previously in the New York Times. So since "not a writer" doesn't apply they must have had some other reason for changing his words.
We can only guess what that might be.
We've noted drug and alcohol stories here before. In the US population as a whole:
An estimated 17.6 million American adults (8.5 percent) meet standard diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder and approximately 4.2 million (2 percent) meet criteria for a drug use disorder. Overall, about one-tenth (9.4 percent) of American adults, or 19.4 million persons, meet clinical criteria for a substance use disorder -- either an alcohol or drug use disorder or both -- according to results from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) reported in the current Archives of General Psychiatry [Volume 61, August 2004: 807-816].
Note that the figures are estimates of numbers of people with use disorder, not one time, casual users. We'd expect that number to be higher.
But among soldiers in Iraq, the numbers seem to be significantly lower, as the London Daily Telegraph reports:
According to US army figures, out of the 4,000 men of the 256th Brigade Combat Team, 53 faced alcohol-related charges and 48 were charged with drug offences.
The types of drugs aren't noted. Nor are the number of overlapping cases among the 48 drug and 53 alcohol cases. But the low figures aren't surprising, given that alcohol is banned and most drugs are too. One wonders how many drug related issues involve sharing prescriptions, always a problem, and likely the leading cause of drug busts in Iraq. But if the author is aware of the answer he chooses not to provide it. Still one thing seems certain - drug and alcohol problems aren't rampant among troops in Iraq.
But Here's the Telegraph's headline: "Stressed US Troops In Iraq 'Turning To Drugs' - Two years into the occupation of Iraq the menace of drug abuse appears to be afflicting American troops."
By the way, probably the easiest way for US troops to obtain alcohol would be from their British or Australian allies, who aren't subject to the order banning it.
Want to do something to support the troops? Maybe you can meet the magic vegetable oil bus when it comes to your town.
Maybe those are the veterans who think Americans should suffer more.
Speaking of veterans - check your local Vietnam Veterans organization for bus arrival times in your area. They'll know.
Update: The NY Times can't quote a single soldier to support their contention - but none the less claim that US troops are demanding more sacrifice from civilians. Want to see how many people believe what they read in the NY Times without question? Click here. Enjoy.
Try the comments at Eschaton too.
Update 2: Times Watch responds to the same story, and notes the obvious holes in the cheese.
What those would accomplish for the troops Shanker keeps silent about. Despite the assumption made in that paragraph, none of the military members Shanker quotes actually demand such World War II-era measures as gas rationing (a theme strengthened in the story with archived photos of old propaganda posters).
Posted by Greyhawk / July 26, 2005 9:52 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.
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