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November 10, 2008
Minority Report (Part III)By Greyhawk
(Part two in this series is here, but this entry can be read as a stand-alone, too.)
"We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority."
Mike Yon: Afghan Quicksand Awaits Obama.
While security in Iraq continues to improve, Afghanistan is drowning in a frothing quicksand. While most of the 2008 fighting season is over, we can be assured that the Afghan national sport -- guerrilla warfare -- will become the 2009 Taliban Olympics by April. They know this is a marathon.
Mike likens Afghanistan to "solving a human Rubik's Cube during a firefight while the media screams every time you make a wrong move". I'm not certain the media will be screaming. (At least not American media.) No doubt there will be failures and successes, but busy reporters (as we've also learned over the past seven years) rarely have time to report both.
Mike's a war reporter; more specifically a combat reporter - a guy who wants to be with the troops and where the action is. And while many Americans are eagerly awaiting President-elect Obama's explanations of what he really meant in many of his campaign promises, there's at least one he made in concrete terms: when it comes to Afghanistan, there will be blood.
As I noted at MilBlogs, Other than who exactly "we" are there's very little room for analysis there.
Still, it might just be bluster designed to comfort (or even excite) McCain "national security voters" who would never hear Obama speak outside of a joint appearance with their man. I confess I don't know if this was ever part of an Obama stump speech or not.
But I do know that claims like this one from this past weekend are certainly al Qaeda "boilerplate":
One wonders if the next president supports a doctrine of pre-emptive attack. Joe Biden seems to think he's more of a "responder" - and he has already called on supporters to "gird their loins" for an event he fears could cost the administration their support:
But Nick Gillespie (in Reason) seems to believe those concerns of lost support are unfounded, and predicts a shift in the demographics of "hawks":
For my part, I've been expressing concern for the attraction of war as economic remedy for some time:
Of course, you're certainly not going to hear "for the economy!" as a battle cry when there are others in place.
And while we don't have a big enough Army to fight an economy-boosting goodwar now, the Democrat Party's VoteVets group is encouraging service:
Which is good, because the President-elect doesn't "agree with the draft", ladies:
Which, while not as clear a statement as "we will kill bin Laden"certainly must mean something.
Meanwhile, the DoD has also announced that the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, which had been based in northwest Baghdad, will return home six weeks early. The unit that was scheduled to replace them will deploy to Afghanistan instead.
All this might put those who've cried "chickenhawk" in an awkward position - they're going to have a tough time explaining why they've shouted that epithet that at civilian Iraq war supporters for years, but why it doesn't apply to them with regards to Afghanistan.
Or they can enter Alice Walker's warm embrace:
Soon enough we might be teaching them to march.
Posted by Greyhawk / November 10, 2008 5:41 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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