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September 4, 2005
Baghdad on the BayouBy Greyhawk
The strain of combat ops begins to wear on those involved:
?This is making a lot of us think about not reenlisting.? Ferguson said. ?You have to think about whether it is worth risking your neck for someone who will turn around and shoot at you. We didn?t come here to fight a war. We came here to help.?It's every reporter's dream quote from a soldier in Baghdad. But he's not in Iraq - he's in New Orleans. How did we get there?
Was that in your local paper? On your evening news?
Certainly the looting has been mentioned - but usually with the explanation of the obvious - that it's understandable as long as people are looking for food. But was this in your local paper?
Disgusted and furious with the lawlessness of looters who have put fear into citizens, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared Martial Law in the city and directed the city's 1,500 person police force to do "whatever it takes" to regain control of the city.He's not responding to people stealing bread and diapers there. He's putting seriously dangerous people on notice - in no uncertain terms. That was on August 30th - but the response by at least a few of New Orlean's finest was to join in the looting - while others simply walked away.
By the way - "Martial Law" means that control has been turned over to the military, and Mayor Nagin was incorrect in his statement, as the Governor's office clarified.
But days later the Governor made her own threats:
A fed-up Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco warned the lawbreakers that extra troops have already arrived in the city, and others are on the way -- and "they're locked and loaded."Perhaps they would - but who would want that to happen? The Governor's remarks echo similar sentiments expressed less specifically by the President of the United States regarding terrorists in Iraq: "Bring it on."
Curiously, both the Mayor's and the Governor's comments were not widely reported.
Kanye West: "We already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war now fighting another way and they?ve given them permission to go down and shoot us. George Bush doesn?t care about black people."
But in spite of the mounting tensions, when the troops arrived they were met with smiling, flag waving crowds:
"The crowd erupted," said Tishia Walters, a woman in the convention center crowd told CNN by telephone.And the commander of those troops acted quickly to defuse the explosive situation:
He ordered all he encountered to point their weapons down, said CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr, who was with the general. Honore repeatedly went up to military vehicles, National Guardsmen standing sentry and even to New Orleans police officers, telling them to please point their weapons down and reminding them that they were not in Iraq.But not all Louisiana's native sons were met with such glee - as the Army Times reported - and that brings us back to where we began this story:
NEW ORLEANS ? Combat operations are underway on the streets ?to take this city back? in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.Maybe he hadn't gotten the word from his governor:
"They have M-16s, and they're locked and loaded ... I have one message for these hoodlums: These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary, and I expect they will."Another interesting quote from the Army Times explains the different receptions given the two groups:
While some fight the insurgency in the city, other carry on with rescue and evacuation operations.The insurgency.
One thing about the weather that's certain - the "fog of war" has set in upon the Crescent City.
President George W. Bush, who flew to Alabama, Mississippi and New Orleans, earlier admitted the response to Katrina was "not acceptable". He said before leaving Washington: "We'll get on top of this situation and we're going to help the people that need help."Mayor Nagin responds to the arrival of the troops:
"I feel much better. I feel like we've gotten everyone's attention and hopefully they'll continue to do what they're doing," Nagin said Friday night in the damaged downtown Hyatt hotel, where his temporary lodgings and command post have been set up since Hurricane Katrina made life in the Big Easy insufferable.
This week showed a major weakness in the blogosphere. While good things are being done all over for the victims, blogs were pummeled by the MSM as a whole and TV news in particular.He's talking about the major news theme of the week - how President Bush failed the people of New Orleans (or perhaps just the black people of New Orleans, as Kanye West claims). What's less reported is the failure of the local and state governments to evacuate their citizens or, failing that, provide some minimum form of security, food and water, and sanitation facilities that could be used for at least a couple of days before outside help could arrive.
Has the network TV coverage of the N.O. Superdome fiasco a) made the situation seem to be worse than it really was (because TV always focuses on the negative things--the crime, the snafus, the corpses and complaints, etc.) or b) made the situation seem better than it really was (because network TV didn't want to make it look as if a heavily African-American crowd of refugees couldn't behave itself)?He cites two articles; one from England...
"We rode that storm out and then decided to go to New Orleans. We didn't realise the storm was heading that way."...and one from Australia:
TWO Melbourne women were trapped in the chaos at New Orleans' Convention Centre last night.Of course, these might simply be misunderstandings due to the language and cultural barriers.
NEW ORLEANS ? After spending six months assigned to almost daily medical flight evacuations from Balad, Iraq, to Landstuhl, Germany, Air Force Staff Sgt. Sybyl Tibodeaux is finally accustomed to the sight of critically wounded troops.
In addition to all of the other horrors befalling New Orleanians during the flood was the creepy discovery that red ants form themselves into floating clusters to avoid drowning. As Dante Ramos and I paddled along Carrollton Avenue on Wednesday, I saw two glittering, golf ball-sized masses of ants floating beside our canoe.Must be some sort of primitive group survival instinct.
The hurricane isn't the only news of the week. Here's an under-reported story from the real Baghdad
And, yet, on Wednesday, the Serene Imam, the Tamer of Anger, was unable to save his people from the worst. Before the sun had set, at least 1,000 people ? mostly women and children ? were dead, trampled under foot in a stampede or drowned in the Tigris River into which they had jumped from a bridge jam packed with pilgrims.Humanity triumphs, and I apologize to the citizens of Baghdad for the title of this post.
And in news from the world of science, a story lost in the noise of Hurricane Katrina:
Scientists said yesterday that they have determined the precise order of the 3 billion bits of genetic code that carry the instructions for making a chimpanzee, humankind's closest cousin.
Recovery for the people of New Orleans - I'm cautiously optimistic. I want to see it happen. I want to see it happen next week. Then, when I see the consistency of humanity, I'll feel like there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
For though just one percent separates us from the animals, as humans in Baghdad and ants in New Orleans demonstrate, all forms of life can survive even the most devastating catastrophies.
Cooperation is the key...
Update: A blogger volunteers at the Astrodome:
As you might imagine I wanted to hear what it was like being in the Superdome. One teenage girl told me that it was terrifying when the shooting started. "It was the gangs," she said. Her mother said, "The people found the guy who was shooting and beat his ass and his ass needed beating." I found over and over again that people were as disgusted with the behavior of the thugs as the rest of us. I asked them if they were angry at the government. Not one I spoke to said they were. They were angry at the people who behaved badly. They were angry at the thugs with guns. They were angry with the people who threw trash everywhere and went to bathroom in public places.A MilBlogger says farewell:
I've been called to Active Duty to support the Hurricane Relief efforts. I promise to be safe and careful while there, but there may or may not be opportunity or time to post here.
Posted by Greyhawk / September 4, 2005 6:40 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.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com