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August 20, 2009
Afghanistan Election Day (UPDATED)By Mrs Greyhawk
REPORTS FROM THE FRONT:
A few hours after polls have closed in Afghanistan, here are my initial impressions of the information I've been tracking from Kabul today.
No one got blown up. And a few hundred people actually showed up to vote. So, by that slim measure, election day here has to be considered a success. This town was packed with Taliban, just last year. The fear of additional militant attacks is never far off.
There are actually three or four elections today, depending on the region and province. Some places went smooth. Others...well.
Kabul is quiet for now.
An Afghan man looks at his inked finger after casting his vote at a polling centre in Kabul (Photo AFP)
Election day picture update from Afghanistan
It is hot, humid and sunny this morning in Jalalabad with a pleasant light wind blowing out of the Northeast. The traffic is light, people calm and as we sit here on the Baba deck monitoring the election we are recieving a report about every 10 minutes of mischief and mayhem. I bet less than 50% of them are true. For example, there is a report out of Kunar that the Taliban is shooting "an RPG" off near a polling station "every hour." We are getting a steady stream of SMS messages out of Kabul where most of the international community is currently located due to potential instability in the countryside that there are several gunfights and a few bombs. As most of the security companies are on complete lockdown it is highly probable that their reporting is BS too. Good companies and good operatives report as fact only those things they have verified themselves - everything else is suspect. So when we hear there is a "gun fight between political parties in Zone 9 of Kabul" we don't necessarily believe it. More here
Afghanistan's election is coming up on Thursday. Here in the northeastern part of the country, conducting an orderly election will be a difficult task, to say the least. This region, due to the high mountains and its shared border with Pakistan, is a well-known insurgent haven. Our enemies inhabit the high ground and getting up there to deal with them is tough.
I have been anticipating the arrival of this day since about mid April. That is when I figured out that I would be present in Afghanistan during this historic day. It is a day that the Afghan people and allies of ISAF(International Security Assistance Force) have been planning for a long time as well. A lot hangs on the results of this day. It remains to be seen how many Afghans will be brave enough to risk actually going to the polls and then voting. This is a land steeped in retribution, so lack of loyalty to one's family, tribe or region can have direct and dire consequences. Please remember the Afghan Security forces who are protecting the polling areas, roads and crowds today. Please also remember the US and Coalition forces who are working with or assisting the Afghans in their lofty goal of obtaining a nonbiased and democratic vote.
Afghanistan Polls in Afghanistan's second democratic election scheduled to close 20 minutes ago; however, voters who were in line by 4 p.m. local time will be permitted to cast their ballots.
Today's the day here in Kabul, and across the country.
This dispatch has been dictated by satellite phone due to communications difficulties. My satellite gear has failed on election day. I do not know how well the elections turned out in other parts of Afghanistan. Here in North Helmand Provence, near Sangin, I am told that less than 300 people voted. In this area the day was marked by serious fighting. Apache attack helicopters were firing their cannons throughout the day. The howitzers fired many times. The mortars were firing. Various bases were attacked. On the mission I accompanied the snipers were firing. We got into a firefight, and the soldier beside me had his antenna shot off. I would not characterize this as a failure of the elections, it was a local setback. We saw the same in Iraq in early 2005, where some people boycotted the elections. The situation here is not good, but this is only one area of Afghanistan. I do not know what happened elsewhere. More here
OTHER MILBLOGS IN AFGHANISTAN TO CHECK IN WITH:
News of Elections:
Just wrapped up a day of election reporting that included interviewing Afghan women at polls, witnessing a tremendous gun battle and then getting chased and threatened by Afghan police for violating this gag rule. More here
And in conclusion, a message from Josh Foust for those who jump to conclusions:
Americans can barely discuss their own election in calm, reasoned tones--and certainly not the day it's happening. It's rare election commentary is valid for days after an American election. Why are we so arrogant as to presume we can handle Afghanistan's election any better?Read it all.
Posted by Mrs Greyhawk / August 20, 2009 8:57 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.
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