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October 10, 2005
Remember the EnemyBy Greyhawk
From the LA Times:
It's hard to think of a more graphic illustration of the horror the U.S.-led coalition is fighting in Iraq than the mass murder on Sept. 26, in which terrorists disguised as policemen (a New York Times headline called these butchers "fighters") burst into a primary school in Iskandaria, south of Baghdad, seized five teachers (all Shiites) and shot them dead. Children stood weeping through this atrocity.Hard to think of a more graphic illustration? Perhaps not.
A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden SUV killed at least 27, including an American soldier, late this morning in the deadliest insurgent attack in more than two months.Another example from the same link:
Iraq's interior minister said Monday that insurgents used a handicapped child as one of the suicide bombers who launched attacks on election day.And yet another incident from the same roundup:
Iraqi health officials said 35 of the 42 fatalities from Thursday's blasts were children.Try this disturbing passage from Pamela Hess' report from Iraq:
In all that time, as far as I knew, I was never in immediate danger. There was a grenade thrown once, ineffectually, at the back of a Warrior I was in. On one Blackhawk ride near Mosul machine gunners fired on men scrambling on the ground with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. In Fallujah I saw a single improvised explosive device explode, but from a safe distance. And I watched a car bomb burn at a police check point in Tall 'Afar, the explosion killing no one but the people inside the car -- a man, a woman and two young children.No additional details on that car bomb are provided.
Perhaps there's an explanation here:
A suicide bomber captured before he could blow himself up in a Shiite mosque late last week claimed he was kidnapped, beaten and drugged by insurgents who forced him to take on the mission. The U.S. military on Sunday said its medical tests indicated he was telling the truth.Which brings to mind this story from last January:
His head and hands were wrapped in bandages and his uncovered face looked like bubbled tar.Perhaps this is all the explanation needed:
In the Syrian countryside north of Aleppo where Abu Ibrahim grew up and married, his fundamentalist impulses took their present shape when he met "a group of young men through my wife's family who spoke to me the true words of Islam. They told me Sufism was forbidden and the Shiites are infidels."Which Zarqawi explains here:
Abu Musaab Al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq said in an audio tape dated October 7 that the militants under the principles of Islam have what justifies killing civilian infidels.I suppose that whether or not any of the above examples are more graphic than the slaughter of teachers in front of their students is up to the individual reader, but whatever your thoughts on the topic I do think you should read the rest of that Times column here.
Then finish with these words of wisdom from Iraqi blogger Alaa.
Posted by Greyhawk / October 10, 2005 3:34 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...)
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