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September 1, 2009
The Obama DoctrineBy Greyhawk
"Now you have narco drug lords who are helping to finance the Taliban, so we've got to get the job done [in Afghanistan], and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there. It means that we have enough civilian support, agricultural specialists, people who are engineers, people who are building schools and so forth to help the Afghani government do a better job of delivering on behalf of its people."
The world has spun a couple of laps around the sun since the Illinois Senator and would-be Democrat presidential candidate responded to a question in New Hampshire about moving troops out of Iraq, so more than a few folks are probably willing to claim they're too hot and dizzy to remember what he said.
Now is the time for an Afghanistan debate, many of those suffering from the most severe form of amnesia insist. Well, this being America it's always time for a debate somewhere. For instance, way back in September and October of 2008 that same Senator debated Senator John McCain on all sorts of topics - including Afghanistan.
Lot's of folks listened to what they said, and voted accordingly. Certainly many spoke out against Obama's clear and well-stated plan for Afghanistan at the time, no doubt just as forcefully as they had against his statement from the year previously. (Just because I don't remember them doesn't mean they didn't.)
And certainly a majority of Americans did not vote for him - though a majority of voters did, and that's what matters.
And clearly Afghanistan mattered to candidate Obama. If asked about Iraq, he mentioned Afghanistan; when asked about Russia, he mentioned Afghanistan. The resulting debate transcripts are thus full of references to Afghanistan. But take them all out and put them in topical order and the result is a coherent narrative that clearly states the candidate's position - his identification of the problem we face and his plan to fix it.
What follows is candidate Obama's position on Afghanistan, culled from the two debate appearances linked above, with the statements re-ordered in a more cohesive and narrative form. I've added nothing beyond brief bracketed words for clarity, and for good form I've repeated the opening points as the close - common practice for a persuasive essay. The rest: 100% pure Obama, distilled to its Afghan essence, the foundation of the official policy of the United States of America.
And that's that.
Iraq, of course, is less an issue now (Though we've still got an awful lot of troops there. What's up with that?) so that impediment to an Afghanistan increase is shrinking daily. (I'll be shocked, shocked I tell you, if all the Brigades scheduled for Iraq this fall actually go to Iraq.)
No doubt there's at least one thing somewhere in the above quotes that will cause most people - even the President's most ardent supporters - to wince. (Alice Walker, for example, thought he shouldn't be so mean to Osama bin Laden.) Some word choices might have led them to wish he hadn't said that, or hope it didn't mean what it sounded like. Still others may have had a strong, negative reaction to each and every word. I'm curious, however - does anyone have a good counter-argument from back then, when it mattered? Those initial "two or three brigades" have been delivered as promised, more will indeed be available from Iraq, but suddenly I'm starting to see many of the President's above points assailed today. I'm sure there were folks actually arguing against them when it mattered. Can anybody point me to a few?
Posted by Greyhawk / September 1, 2009 4:15 PM | Permalink
...with a C-, at best. Not good news for the President: "A majority of independent voters disapprove of how Barack Obama's handling his job as president, according to a new national poll." The Party faithful, however, remain faithful:According to the p... Read More
This is big: the day following President Obama's appearance on five Sunday news talk shows, in which he expressed his concerns over "mission creep" in Afghanistan, Bob Woodward publishes a declassified copy of General McChrystal's commander's assessmen... Read More
Rajiv Chandrasekaran's effort not to lambaste "some" civilians involved in planning America's Af/Pak adventure earlier this year is commendable - but the story is still there. "With the costs now clearer, some officials at the National Security Council... Read More
Click here at 8PM Eastern to watch the speech live, without commercial interruption or talking head nonsense. A video player will open in a popup window. We'll be live-blogging throughout. And since the speech will be in a separate window you can refre... 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...)
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