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July 9, 2008
Dancing the Diddy PivotBy Greyhawk
A local blogger on Barack Obama's possible pivot: I'd like to see the 180 - I suspect we'd be seeing a lot more coverage of progress in Iraq after that.
But did he pivot?
"I'm surprised at how finely calibrated every single word was measured. I wasn't saying anything I hadn't said before, that I didn't say a year ago or when I was a United States senator," said Obama, who is still a senator from Illinois.According to USA Today the answer is "no" - he's always held that nuanced position:
Democratic candidate Barack Obama said he wants to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq in 16 months, although he said any pullout would be determined by conditions there.But according to the Washington Post, the answer is yes:
Although Obama has long pledged to begin immediately withdrawing combat troops at a rate of one to two brigades a month, completing the process within 16 months, he has recently tempered his position with a promise to consult with U.S. commanders on the ground before taking any action.So everyone gets a share of the "hope", and learns a little more about "change".
Regardless, over the past several days I found a number of "good news" stories from Iraq - often under positive headlines. Perhaps, as with Obama's commitment to withdraw from Iraq only if conditions warrant and the Generals say it's okay, that's always been the case. Such stories are usually balanced with bad news, of course (always a good idea in war reporting) - as though like shy prom dates on their first dance the media and the Obama campaign seem confused as to who exactly should lead. But the good news is peeping out, and such behavior should be encouraged.
There is not enough space in USA TODAY to recount all the wonderful stories that go beyond just the recent significant reductions in violence and death.Okay, that one doesn't count - its a letter to the editor from a guy who just completed a tour of duty in Iraq.
But I think this does:
Meanwhile, violence by nearly every measure is down in Iraq. Al-Maliki said this weekend that terrorists in Iraq were defeated.As does this:
Mullen flew by helicopter to Baghdad's Sadr City after arriving in the capital on an overnight flight from Washington. He visited U.S. troops at a coalition observation post and strolled through a market in Sadr City. “We saw extraordinary progress there,” he said. “A few months ago no one could go into Sadr City. I was able to walk openly down a street that until recently was extremely unsafe, and I'm encouraged by that.”Here's a 'good' headline: Iraq Vehicle Bombs At Lowest Level In Years. And here's another: U.S. Commander A Smooth Operator (and the commander referenced isn't General Petraeus).
Kirkuk may be the only province in Iraq in which the police force functions almost like its American counterpart, proactively seeking to prevent crime and terrorist acts while trying to serve and protect citizens. Recently, Paschal helped dedicate a new major crime-unit facility aimed at helping police bring cases to court against detainees based on evidence, not whim or ethnic affiliation. ''It highlights the importance of the rule of law,'' Paschal said, ``and will stand as an example to the rest of Iraq on what you can establish when you establish security.''This might be good: Iraqi Shiite Party Rises As Sadr Falls. And this certainly seems to be:
Iraq To Get Debt Relief From EmiratesCloser to home, the LA Times: " Iraq To Open Consulate In San Diego".
From the other coast, the NY Times: Iraqi Parties, After Meetings In Finland, Agree On Principles To Guide Further Talks
And here's another from the New York Times on Diyala:
The province became the headquarters of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the extremist Sunni insurgent group most associated with suicide bombings and beheadings. The danger was great enough that Western reporters could visit Diyala only while embedded with American troops.It's not all butterflies and rainbows, but it is news that would earn scorn for anyone atttempting to point it out one year ago.
On admittedly smaller scales, there's this:
BAGHDAD - Muntadhar al-Sharify stood shivering yesterday in Baghdad's searing heat, a smile on his young face.And this:
BAGHDAD--Iraqis no longer have to settle just for thick Turkish coffee, cardamom-laced tea, strawberry-flavored milk or bottled water to quench their summertime thirst. Beer and alcoholic beverages are readily available once again.And this:
Baghdad Park A Unique Refuge For Young Couples In LoveEven the battles get "positive" coverage (at least in countries that aren't having presidential elections this year):
Iraqis lead final purge of Al-QaedaSome will recall Arthur Chrenkoff's compilations of "good news" stories from Iraq. They relied heavily on non-American media sources. For now that's no longer the case, for whatever reason the days of complaining about media ignoring good news from Iraq should be over.
And for whatever reason, that's the real good news.
Posted by Greyhawk / July 9, 2008 11:03 AM | 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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