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November 28, 2005
The Long War ContinuesBy Greyhawk
No new posts today, but several updates to the Brief History of a Long War.
Many additions involve Osama bin Laden, whose war against America was inspired by our presence in Saudi Arabia enforcing UN sanctions against Iraq. Re-reading bin Laden's comments from 1996 and 1998 is a chilling exercise today - his words are frequently echoed (perhaps unwittingly) by the "anti-war" crowd today. Regardless of any connection Saddam Hussein had with bin Laden, the attacks of 9/11 were directly linked to our involvement with Iraq. Arguing Hussein's part in 9/11 has been a great distraction from the real issue. Declaring the last few years of the war in Iraq to be unrelated to the larger "war on terror" is an exercise in foolishness. And considering the two as distinct struggles will lead to a rude awakening for anyone who believes a withdrawal from Iraq will mark an end to the larger war.
That withdrawal will occur though. The question not yet asked is where will the next battleground be. Someone will answer.
Here's a brief excerpt from one of the bin Laden references, this from an interview with John Miller of ABC in May, 1998 (more in the extended section):
John Miller, ABC: The American people, by and large, do not know the name bin Laden, but they soon likely will. Do you have a message for the American people?More:
August, 1996: Al Quds Al Arabi, a London-based newspaper, publishes a Fatwa by Osama bin Laden. Its title "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places" is a reference to Saudi Arabia, where US troops have been stationed since the Persian Gulf cease fire, enforcing the "no-fly zone" and other sanctions on Iraq.
...The latest and the greatest of these aggressions, incurred by the Muslims since the death of the Prophet (ALLAH'S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM) is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places -the foundation of the house of Islam, the place of the revelation, the source of the message and the place of the noble Ka'ba, the Qiblah of all Muslims- by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies...February 23, 1998: Osama Bin Laden, enraged by the presence of US forces in Saudi Arabia enforcing sanctions against Iraq, issues a fatwa with the Islamic Group, Al Jihad, the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh and the "Jamaat ul Ulema e Pakistan" under the banner of the "World Islamic Front," which stated that Muslims should kill Americans including civilians--anywhere in the world.
No one argues today about three facts that are known to everyone; we will list them, in order to remind everyone:May 1998: Osama bin Laden answers questions posed to him by some of his followers and ABC news reporter John Miller at his mountaintop camp in southern Afghanistan. The "land of the two Holy Mosques" is a reference to Saudi Arabia, where US troops have been stationed since the Persian Gulf cease fire, enforcing the "no-fly zone" and other sanctions on Iraq:
"Follower": ... What is the meaning of your call for Muslims to take arms against America in particular, and what is the message that you wish to send to the West in general?
Posted by Greyhawk / November 28, 2005 11:56 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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