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!
July 6, 2009
Salvage OperationBy Greyhawk
Before the beginning: Certainly the Iraqis aren't looking forward to having him back for more milk and cookies. So given the history, don't you think maybe it would be better for all parties if he did this job from that closet under the stairs that everyone told him was Dick Cheney's bomb shelter? As long as he had no communications gear (okay - maybe one of those "help I've fallen and I can't get up" things...) I'd be okay with that. Otherwise this is FUBAR.
It occurs to me that there are those who may not be familiar with the term "FUBAR". (Or who thought I was joking.) My apologies to you for using an undefined term. Now that Operation EPIC FAIL has reached its inevitable conclusion, here's a definition.
I. The Victory Tour
When Joe Biden says his prayers tonight, he had best thank his maker for Sarah Palin. If not for her, it's just possible that someone somewhere in America might have noticed what the man who actually was elected Vice President of the United States was doing this weekend. In short: executing what could be one of the most embarrassing (approaching disastrous) diplomatic junkets in this nation's history.
According to the reporting, Biden was charged by President Obama with facilitating the ever-elusive "reconciliation" in Iraq. There are one or two feeble explanations (mostly self-serving) for why this is a good idea. Some are arguably compelling in the absence of deep thought, in a "yeah, sure Joe - you go do that" kind of way. In fact...
You know - go do that voodoo that you do so well... but up against the reality of Iraq today those arguments - drawing strength only from political campaign talking points - crumble.
To cut to the chase - a simple phone-ahead might have avoided this embarrassment,at least: "...the Iraqi government spokesman publicly rejected the American's offer to help with national reconciliation, saying it's an internal affair."
Ouch - kind of an "oh Shiite" moment there. And now (for balance) a word from the Sunni minority:
"The reconciliation issue ... should be activated by Iraqis themselves not by others' recommendations," said Abdul-Kareem al-Samarrai, head of parliament's Accordance Front Sunni bloc.
And double ouch. In fact, the phone ahead could have gone to Chris Hill - the US Ambassador to Iraq, whose job it is to represent the interests of the U.S.A... but you get the picture.
According to ABC TeeVee's George Stephanopoulos, (whose participation as "reporter" in this venture would have done nothing to reduce accusations of ABC as administration PR firm had anyone been following the story), Hill was not present to greet the VP when he arrived on his "historic" visit. (Bad weather might explain that, a good reporter definitely would.) But after finally meeting with Hill and U.S. forces commanding general Ray Odierno Biden declared their reports "were more optimistic than he expected".
But ask anyone who knows and they'll hasten to tell you the reasons for that"optimism" are fragile; there's a delicate balance currently in place - some might describe Iraq as a ticking time bomb, liable to go off at the slightest provocation.
Now long-time media darling Mookie Sadr has been "studying in Iran" for some time now, having lost a tremendous amount of prestige over the past couple years as U.S. and Iraqi forces battled his militias (among others) in the streets of Baghdad, Basra, and elsewhere. He's gone but not completely forgotten, and the U.S. could have given him no greater opportunity for redemption than the gift of Joe Biden as point man in Baghdad. Roll video to see why this is so...
The full version can be found through this link.
That's from April, 2007 - with only two of "the surge" brigades in action. For those without video capability, a few quick quotes -
That's what's called being on the wrong side of history - and it's not the only example for Joe Biden. Muqtada Sadr is on the wrong side of history too - he certainly wouldn't have provided a counterpoint to Joe's claims back in '07 (oddly their political fortunes have since taken divergent paths) so it would be far beyond ironic to see Sadr take advantage of this rather ill-conceived move on the part of the current administration to launch a comeback tour.
Iraq isn't over, there are issues to resolve - but as a wise man once said, it's 20% military and 80% political. The twenty percent has been fairly well under control since late 2007, but the "political side" will be eternal. Whatever direction that may take is up to the Iraqis themselves - that's what self-determination is all about, and no amount of self-inflicted confusion of the terms "reaching goals" and "progress towards goals" will validate American "guidance" (or direction) of that progress. At this point there would more likely be an inverse relationship between overt, highly publicized "political assistance" from America and "political progress" in Iraq - that's all too predictable, as were all the results of the Vice President's visit to his little brown buddies.
Regardless, credit Biden for bringing this message to those in Iraq who would work together for national unity - we're with you: "he said he came with a message of continuing support for the country even as the U.S. military pulls back." In fact, "The enemies of Iraq want to again reignite sectarian violence ... They will fail," Biden said. Though he had another firm message for those enemies who would use violence to undo the gains of the past several years: "Vice President Biden warned Iraqi officials Friday that the American commitment to Iraq could end if the country again descended into ethnic and sectarian violence."
Small wonder that by the Fourth of July, Biden found himself sheepishly apologizing for his "patriotism" to hundreds of American troops gathered in Baghdad for a naturalization ceremony.
II. Salvage Operation
And here's where the real "salvage operation" begins.
Credit the bevy of reporters dispatched to "cover" the Vice President's mission for finding ways to report "the good news" from Iraq even as that mission unraveled. McClatchy should earn special commendation from the White House for this headline describing the range (from flag burning to more polite contempt) of Iraqi responses to Joe Biden: "Biden's Iraq visit draws mixed reaction".
But at the forefront, ABC's George Stephanopolous demonstrated repeatedly why Oval Office public relations efforts are best left to the pros. An early report that Odierno and Hill had somehow caught the Veep off guard by explaining the current state of affairs in Iraq as good was headlined "Biden Visits With His Son in Iraq". ABC's Good Morning America host Elizabeth Vargas gave the perfect setup for the report ("Vice President Biden has enormous credibility on Iraq"...) that emphasized the importance of the endeavor before quickly shifting to the Democratic Party talking points on veterans' issues that Biden claims his son delivered over breakfast. (All good points, by the way. But when will we see some action beyond talking? What will that action be?)
And by the end of the unprecedented, record-setting three day visit, Stephanopoulos would offer an exclusive interview with President Obama's Number Two in which Biden used the phrase "securing victory" in describing Iraq (STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, your predecessor doesn't seem convinced. [LAUGHTER]), denied that the Iraqis had rejected his "help" ("that's not what the prime minister said. The prime minister said that we may need you to get involved"), and dodged a question on whether the U.S. would withdraw all troops in accordance with established timetables ("That is the intention").
But from there the salvage operation collapsed, as the reality of the visit denied any hope for in-depth reporting on that topic. But requirements to fill the allotted time mandated that for the bulk of the discussion Joe had to unleash his enormous credibility on things that aren't Iraq. Many of his resulting statements did get some notice, and all of them define (like it or not) America's leadership position in the world today.
Iranian elections: "we have to acknowledge as a free and sovereign nation that we abhor the violence that took place. We think it was inappropriate, the way in which they treated those protesters."
Iranian Nukes: "As I said to you, we have to wait to see how this sort of settles out."
Potential Israeli responses to Iranian nukes:"Israel can determine for itself -- it's a sovereign nation -- what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else." (Side note: that "sovereign nation" quote sounds somehow familiar...)
North Korea: BIDEN: "The question is, is there anything that we should do about it? Some of it seems like almost attention-seeking behavior... STEPHANOPOULOS: And you don't want to give the attention? BIDEN: And -- no, I don't want to give the attention."
Congressional threats to cut funding for Afghanistan: STEPHANOPOULOS: The clock is also ticking on Afghanistan... BIDEN: "All the troops we agreed to increase are not even all in place at this point." (Yes - go back and review the 2007 comments on Iraq...)
The economy: "The truth is, we and everyone else misread the economy"... "And so the truth is, there was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited."
Sarah Palin: "No. I respect her decision. I don't -- I don't know what prompted her decision to not only not run again and also to step down as a consequence of the decision not to run in 2010. And I take her at her word that had a personal ingredient in it. And you have to respect that."
Hey - if he's not willing to thank her, then at least - as noted at the outset - when he hits his knees tonight he should give thanks for her - she's ensured that no one in America will ever know the full story of Joe's journey to Iraq.
Hopefully it will soon be forgotten there, too. Here in America someone should make a movie version of it - the sub-plot possibilities alone are endless. I'm not sure if it's comedy or tragedy, though. I suppose eventually we'll find out.
Posted by Greyhawk / July 6, 2009 5:30 PM | Permalink
Yeah... this is wrong in just about every possible way....Zeyad, an Iraqi doctor whose "Healing Iraq" blog was promoted by war-blogger Glenn Reynolds and others in the run up to the Iraq war, and then abruptly dropped when Zeyad's cousin was murdered ... Read More
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