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November 17, 2005
War of the WordsBy Greyhawk
You might have missed this quote from Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi last weekend:
The United States and coalition forces will likely reduce the number of troops in Iraq next year, Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Saturday.He was speaking in Detroit, Michigan at the time, but his words went mostly unreported in major media.
Likewise President of Iraq Jalal Talabani's comments in Britain this week received scant notice:
British troops could leave Iraq by the end of next year, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Sunday. “We don’t want British forces forever in Iraq. Within one year – I think at the end of 2006 – Iraqi troops will be ready to replace British forces in the South,” Talabani told ITV’s Jonathan Dimbleby program.Don't worry if you hadn't heard these statements before, you're still getting half the story. Because unlike the leaders of that war-torn land, the Honorable John P. Murtha's (D Pa) comments on Iraq have been well publicized:
I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy.Many feel Murtha's words are especially significant because he voted for the war - before he turned against it. Others around the globe (including most terrorists) might interpret that call for surrender as confirmation of the al Qaeda gamble that Americans can't endure a long war. If so we can only hope that validation won't encourage those who are killing people who are guilty only of attending wedding receptions.
Meanwhile, according to the AP, Bill Clinton also has a message for the world:
Former President Clinton told Arab students Wednesday the United States made a "big mistake" when it invaded Iraq, stoking the partisan debate back home over the war.A message to which Iraqi blogger Hammmorabi responds - harshly:
The world without Saddam is not only better place for the Iraqis but for the whole world. Those who are fighting the changes towards democracy in Iraq are Al-Qaeda terrorists and the other extremists and their supporters in Syria. BC is no different from them. BC certainly failed to remove Saddam and failed to prevent the terrorists but was successful in killing more Iraqis by his rockets and by Saddam hands. BC is a supporter of the dictator regimes in the Middle East indeed.Strong words - but it's his country at stake, after all. And the Iraqis have seen the result of premature America withdrawal once already - they are more than entitled to be wary.
Of course, what quotes like these really remind us is that the first Wednesday in November is the traditional day when certain politicians stop pretending to be "moderate" and start seriously pandering to the base. Further clarification of their positions (what they "really meant", or apologies for being "tricked") can come later - for now the campaign funds need replenishment, fast, and consequences be damned.
There is a difference this year - those words will be noted worldwide, and remembered.
Speaking of remembering, Here's a notable quote from Iraqi blogger Alaa, from immediately prior to last January's elections there:
Moreover, no one should expect that the security situation and strife would somehow improve after the elections; it is more likely to intensify. This is an unfinished war; the Saddamists and their allies have fully regrouped and rearmed and are being very well financed and supported. The brave American people have given President Bush the mandate to finish this war despite the painful sacrifices and material cost. The Iraqi people are up in arms through the political groupings, new army, N.G. and various security forces and are suffering the greater part of the sacrifice. Despite all the snags and faltering, these forces are getting bigger and stronger and should be supported and nurtured until they can bear the full responsibility; this is the only viable "exit strategy" available. In fact, we do not like this phrase, for what is required is a "victory strategy". This war must be fought to the bitter end, and there is only one outcome acceptable both to us and to you: Total and Complete Victory. Anything else is completely unthinkable.I recall that one because I first read it while I was in Baghdad, and it will always stand as a reminder to me of who's on my side.
Posted by Greyhawk / November 17, 2005 10:13 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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