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September 15, 2008
John McCain: "We have succeeded in Iraq"By Greyhawk
But wait - did you hear the one about the photographer hired to get some shots of John McCain for the Atlantic Monthly? I'll let her explain: "Some of my artwork has been pretty anti-Bush, so maybe it was somewhat irresponsible for them to hire me.”
And the Atlantic's PR firm, working weekend overtime: "She has, in fact, disgraced herself".
And Jeffery Goldberg, the author of the cover story: "Greenberg is quite obviously an indecent person who should not be working in magazine journalism"
You can find most of those quotes - and the photos in question, at the link. The quote you won't find is the one from McCain. That's because it's from Goldberg's story, which isn't linked there or at any of the other sites that have made the pictures into the story. And while those pictures are a (briefly) noteworthy story that's too bad - because sometimes you can learn a lot from reading the words, too.
And while The Wars of John McCain includes a lot of words, they are most definitely worth reading.
A few weeks ago, sitting in his suite in a Columbus, Ohio, hotel, I handed the senator a copy of his father’s 1972 Times opinion piece.That, my friends, is good stuff.
You'll find mention of McCain's father and grandfather and sons beyond what little was presented in the biography video at the Republican Convention - and discussion of the wars they fought (or are fighting). And interviews with several of McCain's fellow POWs (though I'm inclined to take issue with the blurring of the distinction between their position and that of John Kerry's felllow Swift Boat vets - those few words could have been cut from the finished product altogether) and fellow congressional Vietnam vets. You'll read some articulate and informed debate on America's final years in Vietnam, and how and why that (and all those other wars) does or doesn't inform John McCain's view of the world today. It is one of the finest, most balanced pieces of writing I've seen on John McCain, and it would be a damn shame if all anyone ever saw was the pictures - at least the ones that don't accompany the story anyway.
And while not referred to by the candidate as such, most of the article deals with McCain's view of his son's war. “The country is in one of our occasional periods of isolationism, a reaction to what [the public views] as failure, even when we are succeeding in Iraq—and we have succeeded in Iraq."
Goldberg notes - accurately - that "McCain rarely discusses his original vote, in 2002, to authorize the Iraq invasion; he prefers to talk about the surge." And that's unfortunate, because in spite of the opposition's steadfast refusal to back away from Iraq is Vietnam arguments (many of which were developed in 2002 - and most of which can still be validated by rapid withdrawal) one of the side benefits of winning is that you can actually say you knew we could do it all along. (Especially if you were right all along about what needed to be done - but in the US Government that group has a population of approximately one.)
There are two things I believe I can't be accused of - one is lack of commitment to finishing what we started in Iraq, and the second is not paying attention to what's going on over there. In late 2006/early '07 I wasn't sold on the idea of a surge (even though I knew I was going to be over there regardless). That's partly because I knew something that only a handful of people in America did - not just that something called the Anbar Awakening was turning things around in that province, but that American forces in Iraq had committed to ensuring the Awakening was going to work. I wasn't happy with McCain's treatment of General Abizaid at the time, and also thought certain people weren't paying enough attention to Afghanistan.
That makes me one of a very few people who can now legitimately argue that I was against the surge because I thught we could win without it and that we needed to pay more attention to Afghanistan. (But I also knew that if we fled Iraq we wouldn't stand a chance against the al Qaeda recruiting boom for the Afghan campaign that would follow.)
But I won't - because I was wrong. And throughout 2007 I came to realize that McCain was right, and that we couldn't calm Baghdad without "the surge". And we did - throughout a long hot summer while Americans were completely focused on Mexico.
How do I know McCain is right in saying we succeeded? Because of the number of people making this point (from the Atlantic):
Senator Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island and a former Army officer, who traveled with Obama to Iraq in July, said of McCain: “I think he’s ignoring the consequences of Iraq. First of all, the intelligence and the arguments for Iraq have been proven universally wrong."Obviously he isn't going to take my advice, but I say give 'em hell, John.
But McCain believes strongly that the only way to ensure Saddam would never pose a threat to American interests was to remove him from power. “Is there anyone who believes that Saddam Hussein wouldn’t have pursued WMD?” he asked me. “He told his interrogators he would. Is there anybody who believes that the sanction regime was going to hold, or that the status quo would hold, or that sooner or later they wouldn’t shoot down one of our planes patrolling the no-fly zone?”Read the whole thing.
Posted by Greyhawk / September 15, 2008 5:02 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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