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December 15, 2005
Elections - Now and ThenBy Greyhawk
CNN International's front-page headline: "Ballots counted in Iraqi election"
Think about how mundane that sounds on one level - and the amazing story it tells for just that reason.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Vote-counting at polling stations across Iraq is beginning Thursday night, after Iraqis turned out in droves to elect their first full-term parliament since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.If it bleeds it leads, they say. And today it did not. So it's what that story doesn't say that tells you everything you need to know about today.
A salute to the people of Iraq - I can only imagine how you feel.
A salute to my brothers and sisters in uniform in Iraq today - I know just how you feel. I was there in January.
And this seems like a good time to look back at the first of the three elections that have been held there this year. I think the following excerpts from accounts we compiled back then capture the moment fairly well, and it's nice to be able to look back from the perspective of the months gone by, and measure...
The New York Times:
Shiite Faction Ready to Shun Sunday's Election in IraqThe AP:
Insurgents warn Iraqis not to voteMe:
Without a doubt the story from Iraq is a compelling one. And a fundamental example of good vs evil. Those who'd offer excuses or moral equivalency lectures in response to insurgents beheading Iraqis or disemboweling aid workers, mortaring homes or striking at schools with car bombs have clearly chosen sides. Don't blame us if we kill you, you have only yourselves to blame, cries an "insurgent" - and around the world certain heads nod.
This war is long past lost. Time to pack it in, and save the lives of our men and women in uniform that will otherwise face a barrage of bullets and RPG rounds during their extended stay in the desert.
Fallujah - where residents were just beginning to return after the November battle that rid the city of insurgents:
Some said they would vote as a protest against the insurgents who used to rule Fallujah, whom many blame for the destruction.Baghdad:
Lieutenant-Colonel Mowatassam Hachem al-Jebouri is determined to vote despite living in a guerrilla-infested district of Baghdad. He has devised a plan to do so.Ramadi:
In the otherwise disappointing story of the Iraqi security forces, the Iraqi army's commando unit has been an exception, fighting ably beside American troops in Fallouja.Election day, January 30:
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.Iraqi bloggers:
Ali - Free Iraqi:
This was my way to stand against those who humiliated me, my family and my friends. It was my way of saying," You're history and you don't scare me anymore". It was my way to scream in the face of all tyrants, not just Saddam and his Ba'athists and tell them, "I don't want to be your, or anyone's slave. You have kept me in your jail all my life but you never owned my soul". It was my way of finally facing my fears and finding my courage and my humanity again.Mohammed and Omar - Iraq the Model:
I still recall the first group of comments that came to this blog 14 months ago when many of the readers asked "The Model?"? "Model for what?"Hammorabi - Hammorabi:
Today only we may announce the victory! Today we hit back in the heart of the terrorists and the tyrants! Today is the day in which the souls of our martyrs comforted! Today those who were killed in Iraq or wounded among our friends from the USA and other allies, who helped us to reach this day, are with us again to inscribe their names with Gold for ever!Alaa - The Messopotamian:
I bow in respect and awe to the men and women of our people who, armed only with faith and hope are going to the polls under the very real threats of being blown to pieces. These are the real braves; not the miserable creatures of hate who are attacking one of the noblest things that has ever happened to us. Have you ever seen anything like this? Iraq will be O.K. with so many brave people, it will certainly O.K.; I can say no more just now; I am just filled with pride and moved beyond words. People are turning up not only under the present threat to polling stations but also under future threats to themselves and their families; yet they are coming, and keep coming. Behold the Iraqi people; now you know their true metal. We shall never forget the meanness of these bas****s. After this is over there will be no let up, they must be wiped out. It is our duty and the duty of every decent human to make sure this vermin is no more and that no more innocent decent people are victimized.Mrs G had a roundup of other Iraqi and military blogger reactions here.
Greetings from a land of bent and broken things.Aftermath - Washington DC:
Senator Kerry: "No one in the United States should try to overhype this election.... It's hard to say that something is legitimate when a whole portion of the country can't and doesn't vote."
But America just wouldn't listen, and thus we're left with this today:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Vote-counting at polling stations across Iraq is beginning Thursday night, after Iraqis turned out in droves to elect their first full-term parliament since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.Tomorrow, of course, we'll continue to rebuild broken things.
Got a hammer?
Posted by Greyhawk / December 15, 2005 6:41 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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