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!
November 21, 2008
Get ready to change the name to CryVAW...By Greyhawk
Reporting from Washington -- Antiwar groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama's national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views on other important foreign policy issues.I believe they're in for some additional disappointment.
Those who weren't paying attention when the Senator clarified his views on Iraq in July ("Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months" was replaced by "The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month -- which would remove all of them in 16 months.") probably didn't notice his latest subtle shift involving the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the US and Iraq.
To fully understand the significance of the shift, you must know what a SOFA is. Basically, it's an agreement we have with most countries where we have troops stationed on a long-term basis (as Obama, perhaps to his supporters' dismay, desires for Iraq). The obvious exception: countries where we are at war. The agreement covers legal niceties such as criminal jurisdiction, basing, financial commitments, and other critical details necessary for continued presence of U.S. troops on foreign soil. The US has SOFAs with Germany, Japan, Korea, and several other nations where troops are stationed throughout the world. And for months (at least since early 2008), the U.S. has been developing a SOFA with Iraq in hopes of eliminating the requirement for the United Nations annual resolution authorizing our continued presence there.
Rumors about the content of that agreement throughout the months of negotiations caused Senator Obama to prominently include this statement as a key point in his Iraq policy: "Obama and Biden also believe that any security accord must be subject to Congressional approval. It is unacceptable that the Iraqi government will present the agreement to the Iraqi parliament for approval—yet the Bush administration will not do the same with the U.S. Congress." That oversight can be assumed to to be desired as a way to ensure that any incoming president would not be tied to a treaty that didn't suit their own plans for Iraq.
But this week, the strict demands were quietly replaced with a "sort of maybe": "Obama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need. Any SOFA should be subject to Congressional review to ensure it has bipartisan support here at home."
Gone are "must" and "approve" - the new terms are "should" and "review". What could explain the lack of concern for congressional oversight? I can offer two likely reasons:
One - the president elect, having read the SOFA in its near-complete version (it lacks only that mandatory Iraqi parliamentary approval) has determined that it offers an acceptable framework for future US-Iraq relations
Two - the President-elect no longer cares what it says or what Congress thinks, he's going to do what he pleases with (or to) Iraq come hell or high water.
I believe option one is the more likely scenario. Perhaps I'm delusional in that regard (and certainly circumstances on the ground can change between now and January 20 or thereafter, especially since the document is not yet official) but I'm also inclined to believe that whatever the outcome, IVAW and the other folks quoted in that LA Times article are in for much greater disappointment than I am.
Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War, said that ...Obama should be given the benefit of the doubt.But Kevin Martin, executive director of the group Peace Action, is expressing more concern: "There's so much Obama hero worship, we're having to walk this line where we can't directly criticize him," he said. "But we are expressing concern."
But assuming Iraq agrees to the SOFA, the only real remaining question is will the U.S. leave an unspecified number of troops in Iraq for an unspecified amount of time, per the remaining unchanged portion of Obama's Iraq plan, or will all troops be removed, per unverified reports on the content of the SOFA.
And perhaps for the "peace activists", there's the question of Afghanistan. The drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq is ongoing, and one Brigade scheduled for Iraq later this year has already been re-programmed for Afghanistan. Obama has pledged that others so scheduled will follow. He's likewise promised to "kill bin Laden" and to make "crushing al Qaeda" our "biggest national security priority." However, unlike Iraq, any plan or policy for Afghanistan has never been included on the candidate's (or the President-elect's) web site(s).
Update: More from Jules Crittenden.
Posted by Greyhawk / November 21, 2008 3:18 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