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February 27, 2006
Listing to PortBy Greyhawk
Pushback from an ignored but potentially injured third-party in the port deal-the UK:
The great Indian writer Khushwant Singh once penned a poignant story called Karma, about the plight of Indian elites under British colonialism. The protagonist, Sir Mohan Lal, wants only to be accepted as a gentleman. Impeccably dressed in his Savile Row suit and Balliol tie, brandishing a copy of The Times, he proudly takes his seat in the first-class compartment of a train - only to be accosted by a couple of drunken, loutish British soldiers who fling him out, seeing only a "wog".The rest is subscription only, but here's a central point:
The causes of the furore are actually quite simple, and ugly. "Port management" sounds like something important, especially in the post-September 11 world, and many think it cannot be left to "wogs" - a reaction that has been encouraged by shameless politicians quick to recognise a chance for cheap demagoguery.And here's the conclusion:
Given the situation's political realities, it makes sense to delay finalising the deal briefly. In fact, the crisis creates a perfect opportunity for the president to educate the Congress and the public on what globalisation means in practice, how it generally benefits Americans and the world at large, and how wrong it is to lump all Arabs, Muslims and Middle Easterners into a scary, undifferentiated mass. The administration could also take lessons about the importance of approaching homeland security seriously and the danger of playing with demagogic fire across the board.
The Financial Times has a hard time acknowledging that Bush is the voice of reason in this one. (The key for the anti-Bush crowd in this is to note the fact that he wasn't aware of the deal until afterwards - that might help diminish the distaste of arguing on "his side".)
But that makes two allies potentially alienated by the knee-jerk reaction to the ports deal - not to mention the clear message sent to other Arab countries.
The deck has truly been shuffled on this one, the metaphors thoroughly mixed, and strange bedfellows are discovering each other on every side of the fence.
In the New York Times Nicholas Kristof says
Even if you believe in racial profiling, you have to look beyond the profile. Senators talk about Dubai in dark tones that suggest they've never been there. Dubai is the Disneyland of the Arab world — it's the place people go to relax, to shop, to drink. It is staunchly pro-American and pro-business, and its vision of the Arab future is absolutely the opposite of Osama bin Laden's. If we want to encourage Arab modernization, we should be approving this deal — not engaging in quasi-racist scaremongering.But ultimately he maintains his "D" cred:
Democrats have so many legitimate reasons to criticize President Bush — from ruining our nation's finances to despoiling American wilderness — that it's painful to see them scaremongering in just the way that Mr. Bush himself has.The Financial Times piece above also takes that jab, as have numerous other commenters struggling to come to grips with the fact that they agree with the U.S. President on this one. Sez the FT: "The irony here is that in many respects the Bush administration is reaping what it sowed, having previously played politics with homeland security and the war on terrorism, having blurred distinctions in the Muslim world by conflating the unrelated struggles against al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.."
Again, were I wanting to support the deal but not the administration, I'd repeat that the President didn't know until after the deal was done - in other words, the right decision was made because he wasn't in on it.
Because he's already on record on that other issue:
I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. (Applause.) The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. (Applause.)I heard that right the first time. He was serious. And therein lies a clue for those who would be taken seriously on security issues: be serious.
Posted by Greyhawk / February 27, 2006 5:30 PM | Permalink
In the military, it is customary for unit members to look out for one another, to share the burden and sacrifice for the common good. From time to time, however, the opportunity arises for one member to benefit at the Read More
Another not to be missed post on the subject by California Conservative.....Glenn Reynolds points to Mudville who point to a potentially injured third party in the Dubai port deal. Read More
Mudville Gazette has an excellent roundup.
My opinion remains unchanged: the United Arab Emirates are our allies. Staunch ones. It's despicable to treat th...Read More
Do not miss Greyhawk's post here or Alexandra's here. While you're at it, I guess you might as well also read Michelle's posts here and here, and the CTB post she links to. I never thought the day would come Read More
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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