Greetings! You are reading an article from The Mudville Gazette. To reach the front page, with all the latest news and views, click the logo above or "main" below. Thanks for stopping by!
September 5, 2008
Republicans and WarBy Greyhawk
I know many Republicans dislike South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Maybe that explains the tepid response he's getting at the Republican National Convention. Or maybe it's what he's talking about: Iraq - and American troops in Iraq. As the cameras span the crowd through obvious applause lines I'm hearing polite smatterings thereof, and seeing folks chatting on cell phones or amongst themselves. Waiting for the main event, no doubt. They did perk up and cheer a bit more when he mentioned John McCain or Sarah Palin, but when he spoke of "winning" in Iraq or the fact that the words "winning" or "victory" could be used without fear at the Republican Convention - not so much.
That may be because many Republicans know very little about Iraq - certainly less than the average Democrat. I'd add that Republicans who do know what's going on in Iraq aren't afraid to talk about it and are pretty much fair in their assessment of the pros and cons and ups and downs, they're aware of every two steps forward and every one step back. But on the whole Democrats are more effective in discussing Iraq because even if they base their ultimate "opinions" on political party talking points they are aware of some background information that can be used to support that position. (Even if that's only the death toll.)
Before I deployed to Iraq last year I did an interview with Politico in which I speculated on the American public's view of the war in Iraq:
"...those at one end of a spectrum want to ignore it, and those at the opposite want it to be something it isn't. Both groups wish it would go away. As a guy just interested in presenting facts, I believe my efforts are less and less appealing to the average American every day."Democrats are at that "opposite end". They need to know all they can about Iraq, if they didn't, they could accidentally say something true about the war. Republicans are the other end, and they demonstrated that as Lindsey Graham tried and failed to get them to cheer for "victory".
It's also possible that knowing a lot about politicians and nothing about Iraq they don't trust a politician enough to endorse - even by cheering - anything one says about the war their country is waging half a world away. That's a wise decision, because with all the favorable facts available to him, Graham chose to display his ignorance instead: "Barack Obama went 2 and a half years between visits to Iraq and never once sat down with General Petraeus."
Wrong - here's an outstanding story on General Petraeus from The New Yorker. Even this brief excerpt is waaay to long for any delegate to the Republican National Convention to ever read - but folks with even a passing interest in war or politics will somehow clear that hurdle:
In July, Senator Barack Obama went to Iraq and saw the General; he was rewarded, courtesy of Petraeus’s energetic press aides, with an iconic photograph, printed in many dozens of newspapers, which showed the Senator aboard a command helicopter, smiling confidently at the General’s side.You can argue against Obama's position on Iraq - or you can lie about whether the Senator ever sat down with the General and in so doing destroy your own credibility. Graham chose the second option. Maybe it's not such a bad thing that no one was listening to him. Maybe it even explains why.
Update: Follow up post here.
Posted by Greyhawk / September 5, 2008 1:27 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...)
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