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November 17, 2006
A Referendum on Iraq (Part IV - Qualifications)By Greyhawk
More troops? "We do need more troops - and the troops we need are Iraqis."
Less troops? "Under the current circumstances I would not recommend troop withdrawals."
Both comments delivered to the Senate this week by CENTCOM commander General John Abizaid.
Want a glimpse of the future? Watch the video of General Abizaid's appearance (via CSPAN) before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week (real player). The media has made much of Gen Abizaid's comments at this meeting - and they are of obvious importance. But what really matters here are what the Senators asked, and how they responded to his answers.
You probably don't have 4 1/2 hours to watch the whole thing. Some highlights:
Skip forward to 1:15:45. Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida starts with this statement, "I trust you... You have been - to me - the most forthcoming witness as you have appeared before this committee."
During the exchange, the General makes the quote at the top of this post, and also describes the details of what a "withdraw" from Iraq would entail.
Then watch Senator McCain's section immediately after. Excerpt:
Sen McCain: Would it make sense to say it might be well to get both Baghdad and al Anbar province under control...?
Gen Abizaid: ...You can't have a "main effort" everywhere... the preponderance of military activity needs to go into the Baghdad area.
Sen McCain: I don't understand that tactic, General.
Later, the Senator attempts to conclude: ...I regret deeply that you seem to think the status quo and the rate of progress we're making is acceptable, I think most Americans do not.
But the General robbed him of his sound bite: Well Senator I agree with you. The status quo is not acceptable. And I don't believe what I'm saying here today is the status quo. I am saying we must significantly increase our ability to help the Iraqi army by putting more American troops with Iraqi units in military transition teams - to speed the amount of training that is done, to speed the amount of heavy weapons that get there, and to speed the ability of Iraqi troops to deploy. It's a very difficult thing to do. Senator I believe in my heart of hearts that the Iraqis must win this battle - with our help."
McCain - arguing for an increase in US combat troops in Iraq, refused to yield the last word: "You and I have significant disagreement." (In support of his "more troops is better" campaign the Senator also invokes comments from some other generals we've discussed here recently - they may not be gone after all.)
After that - if you've time to spare - you can watch Senator Dayton explain why he has no business in the room, as he quotes recent bestsellers to the General and demands he clarify whether quotes others therein allege he made are accurate.
The first two exchanges I've highlighted above may well shape the serious "Iraq debate" in the coming months. Don't believe what you read in the papers - watch for yourself.
Update: Thanks to Soldier's Dad for the link to the transcript.
Early in which Senator Warner announces a schedule:
Looks like most of the details of the next year in Iraq might be ironed out before January. That should give the new congress time to deal with other issues before turning back to this one. I think the elected Democrats will be okay with that - some of their supporters may be disappointed. (Sound bites and occassional Kos/HuffPo rants will be provided for their benefit.)
By the way, want to guess the number of times "Afghanistan" was mentioned by a Senator during that 4.5-hour discussion? No need - the answer is "2".
Posted by Greyhawk / November 17, 2006 2:06 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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