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 19, 2009
The wicked game (part one)By Greyhawk
A few more cards on the table - as evident from this Times (London) account (headline: "White House seeks to explain its hesitations on Afghanistan") the Obama administration has come as close as it likely ever will to acknowledging the story behind the story of the Afghan troop numbers.
President Obama was said yesterday to be more concerned at "whether there's an Afghan partner" worth defending than with the politically fraught question of how many more troops to send, according to Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama's chief of staff and a central figure in White House deliberations on Afghanistan.The New York Times:
The White House signaled Sunday that President Obama would postpone any decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan until the disputed election there had been settled and resulted in a government that could work with the United States.A noble cause, indeed. From the time of the release of the Af/Pak policy in March the administration's displeasure with the Karzai government was obvious:
That the administration had issues with the Afghan government was clear from before the policy became official, and last weekend's statements were well-timed, as this report from Bloomberg reveals:
The BBC was confident enough in that prediction to headline their story Karzai 'stripped of outright win'. And "according to today's local paper," a milblogger in Afghanistan writes, "the number of votes cast for President Karzai has slipped to 47%."
Meanwhile, the full-court press is on. The AP:
And VoA reports "Senior foreign officials have urged Mr. Karzai to accept the findings of a fraud investigation by a U.N.-backed panel that could decide whether the nation's disputed election goes to a runoff." Among those officials, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and U.S. Senator John Kerry. But more notable (if less noticed) was the participation of Bush administration U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan (and later Iraq) Zalmay Khalilzad.
Khalilzad recently criticized the Obama administration's dealings with Karzai,
His return to the country of his birth (Khalilzad, like Karzai, is ethnic Pashtun) as a representative of the current administration* may signify a concession of failure thus far on their part to get Karzai to play ball, and/or an additional level of pressure brought to bear. (Khalilzad has also been mentioned as a possible member of the Afghan government - in May the New York Times reported he had considered running against Karzai for the presidency.)
As for a power sharing deal, according to Joe Klein that's exactly what the Obama administration wants from Karzai: "It seems clear--to me, at least--that the preferred U.S. outcome is no runoff election (which would be yet another security headache for U.S. troops in any case) and a coalition government in which Abdullah negotiates and achieves a significant portfolio." In fact, Klein sees Rahm Emanuel's statement last weekend as a message "...directed at Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister who ran second in the election: make a deal with Karzai now."
From part two:
...the first strong indication that the Obama administration was going to enlist the aid of the U.S. military as pawns in a game of leverage over Karzai came not with the "leak" of General McChrystal's report, but with a slight change in timing of the due-date of the report a month prior:
The timing of Gen. McChrystal's primary assessment remains in flux. It was initially due in mid-August, but the commander was summoned to a secret meeting in Belgium last week with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and told to take more time. Military officials say the assessment will now be released sometime after the Aug. 20 vote.
*Late update: according to this BBC report Zalmay Khalilzad "much to the annoyance of US officials, said he had come on a personal basis to help resolve this crisis."
Posted by Greyhawk / October 19, 2009 7:29 PM | Permalink
(Part one here, part two here.) ***** ***** The first indication that the Obama administration is unhappy with Afghan president Hamid Karzai's decision to accept a runoff election is this New York Times story - With New Afghan Vote, Path to Stability I... 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