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!
October 12, 2009
The other side of the mountain (part one)By Greyhawk
Talking point: al-Qaeda is in Pakistan. And we spend $30 in Afghanistan for every dollar in Pakistan.
That's from Fareed Zakaria's Washington Post piece, but I've heard it parroted on the TeeVee News several times today - along with the statement - delivered straight-faced - that Pakistan is now the Central Front.
Certainly all of our fine American media superstars have "inside connections", though perhaps they all took shortcuts and drew the money/focus talking point from this Newsweek Joe Biden profile:
Which is surprising for two reasons (and neither is "Biden can do math in his head"). One, we're not supposed to know about what went on in those meetings. (But certainly there have been so many leaks lately, so what's one more going to hurt?)
Two, a quick glance at the March paper on Af/Pak strategy reveals it says "the core goal of the U.S. must be to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its safe havens in Pakistan, and to prevent their return to Pakistan or Afghanistan."
That's in paragraph two of the White Paper* - but maybe no one in the White House read that far, or maybe they didn't notice the double tap on Pakistan before Afghanistan was even mentioned.
But that's not likely. Even though Newsweek assures us today that "...in March, Biden stood alone. When Obama announced that he was launching a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan--to develop the country and make its civilians safe from the Taliban--Biden was the only one of the president's top advisers to seriously question the wisdom of this course". Because while it's likely that Joe Biden (or his spokesperson) can impress TeeVee, newspaper, and magazine "journalists" with tales of how far out in front of the rest of the pack he is with his high-speed thinking, it's not all that likely that everyone else in the triple-crypto-super-double-top-secret underground situation room was actually ignorant of American efforts in Pakistan, or far too stupid to understand what the President's policy paper said. (Though if they are, we certainly don't have to worry about them figuring out who's leaking all the secret stuff any time soon.)
But it is likely they'd rather not see that relationship with Pakistan appearing in any of its uncomfortable detail on TeeVee, newspapers, magazines, or the innernets.
Like one such detail did - coming close to breaking out of the undercurrent, appearing as an editorial in the Washington Post last week:
In short: if you want to help Pakistan, please stop being so damn wobbly on Afghanistan. But here the ongoing tug of war between President Obama ("The United States must overcome the 'trust deficit' it faces in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where many believe that we are not a reliable long-term partner" - the White Paper) and President Obama ("The United States must look for a way out of the war in Afghanistan, President Obama said... "There's got to be an exit strategy," Mr. Obama said in a wide-ranging interview" given as he announced his new strategy...) yet again seemed less than impressive to those who could only stand witness - and await the consequences.
But other events in the months between March and October were even less visible than conversations in secret meetings quickly related as bumper sticker talking points in every media outlet in America.
More to follow...
*Note: When the White Paper says "The following steps must be done in concert to produce the desired end state: the removal of al-Qaeda's sanctuary, effective democratic government control in Pakistan, and a self-reliant Afghanistan that will enable a withdrawal of combat forces while sustaining our commitment to political and economic development" the first step listed is "Executing and resourcing an integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan." More on why that isn't wrong here and here. It would certainly be nice if there were easy options, but good ones rarely are.
Posted by Greyhawk / October 12, 2009 6:00 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