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October 2, 2007
Phony Soldiers and OtherwiseBy Greyhawk
Senate Plurality Leader Harry Reid voted against denouncing the Betray Us ad, in which a general that Reid voted to put into battle was smeared by MoveOn.Since we pretty much started the whole discussion here some time ago, I must say I'd enjoy seeing the Senate debate the entire story of Jesse MacBeth and his claims:
...according to Macbeth, his squad of Rangers gunned down Iraqis praying inside a mosque on a holy day, then hung some of the bodies from rafters, and defaced the mosque with graffiti. Macbeth's hand held the smoking gun, and his testimony in this interview shows clearly that the Marines who are now in trouble for very similar actions are not the exception to US tactics in Iraq, but represent only one in many incidents of war crimes[*].Those stories made MacBeth a welcome addition to team IVAW:
Of course, the reality is that MacBeth washed out of basic training, then pepetrated fraud in an attempt to gain VA benefits, moved on to launch his brief "I'm a war criminal" career, and found a welcome reception from the Iraq Veterans Against the War. That organization did find the courage to "issue a statement" after we exposed the poser. As I mentioned at the time,
Note the gutless weasels don't refute MacBeth, just say that "questions have been raised". Nor do they actually expel him from their ranks - they just don't "in any way endorse" him.Anyhow, fast forward one year:
A man who tried to position himself as a leader of the anti-war movement by claiming to have participated in war crimes while serving in Iraq is facing federal charges of falsifying his record.And last month...
A Tacoma man who falsely claimed he was a decorated war hero when he took the stage at demonstrations held in opposition to the U.S.'s role in Iraq was sentenced this morning to five months in prison in U.S. District Court in Seattle.That's from the Seattle Times. The Eastern Arizona Courier adds that...
In November 2003, while living in Pima, Macbeth interviewed with a Courier reporter and fabricated stories of combat injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and watching fellow soldiers die.If I were Rush Limbaugh, I'd join in Reid's call for intense Senatorial debate on this issue. I'd love to read in the Senate record exactly why Reid - who couldn't summon the outrage (or simple decency) to condemn MoveOn for attacking General Petraeus, is so outraged that Rush Limbaugh called MacBeth a "phony".
HARKIN: I’ll just close, Mr. President, by noting that in August, seven soldiers published an op-ed in the New York Times criticizing the current strategy in Iraq. Tragically, two of those soldiers were subsequently killed in action, making the ultimate sacrifice for their country.I can understand why Harkin feels compelled to rush to the defense of a fellow fraudulent combat veteran (it's a "Band of Brothers" thing), but I'm not sure why he can only assume Limbaugh's condemnation of a phony soldier must also be applied to real ones. I wouldn't in a million years have equated MacBeth with real soldiers, but Harkin has.
For the record, here's what I wrote in response to the NYT 7 (see "View from the Tunnel" at link), whose opinions I respect, and who are the real deal, and anything but phony. They did an excellent job in re-stating what virtually everyone here recognizes as the challenges we are confronting, though they fell a bit short in clarifying exactly how they feel we should resolve them (lack of clear consensus being a common product of group efforts). So I'd love to hear - for the record - various U.S. Senators announce whether they concur with the actual solutions somewhat vaguely implied in their editorial. Specifically, that although we could win this thing if Americans would stand back and let us unleash the required amount of carnage (in other words, if we could actually do what Jesse MacBeth and his IVAW pals accuse us of doing anyway)...
While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force....our reluctance to do so dictates that
...it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit.Which is pretty much what we're doing - the only difference I can discern from current policy being if they are advocating extension of "as they see fit" to slaughter of weaker elements in Iraqi society - but the authors are unclear on this point.
Now that would be a worthy discussion among the members of the world's most prestigious elected body. Or the US Senate can pretend radio personality Rush Limbaugh attacked the messengers, express their complete and total outrage at that most egregious and imaginary affront, and avoid the issue altogether.
Back to you, Tom and Harry.
* …the Marines who are now in trouble for very similar actions are not the exception to US tactics in Iraq, but represent only one in many incidents of war crimes. - It's worth remembering that the original intended purpose of the MacBeth video was to lend additional weight to congressman Jack Murtha's then-current claims that Marines in Iraq were "cold blooded killers" who were slaughtering women and children...
There is a current story in the US press about a squad of Marines that are being investigated for "war crimes" after they murdered a whole Iraqi family one night a few months back. US officials are approaching this story as if this wasn't standard procedure, and are focusing on holding the individual Marines accountable. Jessie Macbeth blows the lid off that story.Ironically, even as MacBeth was being sentenced for his fraud those Marines were being cleared of the charges brought against them. (One is now suing Jack Murtha - see here for the latest). Likewise, while ostensibly "anti-war" the real function of Iraq Veterans Against the War is to publicize similar claims that US troops in Iraq routinely commit atrocities as part of US policy - see their recent thinly disguised press release in The Nation magazine for example. (Actually investigated here with some responses from other military members serving in Iraq here).
And here's our complete Jesse MacBeth coverage from May, 2006:
Posted by Greyhawk / October 2, 2007 1:39 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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