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October 28, 2009
Round TwoBy Greyhawk
By the looks of it, this NY Times story was going to tell the whole truth:
But rather than acknowledging the (thus far fruitless) Obama administration goal of establishing an Afghanistan government "power sharing" plan (with Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah both on board), a new narrative was established: "It was only Senator Kerry's relentless efforts, and a round-the-clock lobbying press by American and European leaders, that staved off political disaster."
And that, ultimately, was the underlying message in the ceremony announcing Mr. Karzai's concession last week: Mr. Karzai may have agreed to follow the law -- he may have agreed to act in a democratic way -- but he did so only after representatives of the United States, the United Nations and the largest European countries all but pushed him onto the dais to do it.
But while Karzai obviously wanted to avoid a runoff election, his insistence on following the constitutional path is simultaneously:
But that was just a warning shot.
Karzai, however, chose to push back a bit during a CNN appearance this weekend...
...although he also signaled his willingness to have Abdullah Abdullah in his government:
But like the New York Times, The Washington Post demonstrated who controls the narrative in the U.S. with their headline "Karzai rules out sharing power"
Note also the comment above that we're going to do this according to the constitution - the Karzai response now usurped by the "because we forced them to" narrative. (Of which the Karzai camp - having agreed to runoffs only in defiance of the extra-constitutional power sharing option - was probably unaware.)
...while offering "Republican-friendly" quotes on the same topic to Fox:
But while the clearly politically-adept Abdullah also ruled out a "power sharing" option, indicated Karzai was unreliable, and condemned the fraud associated with the initial election results, his own questionable votes were left unmentioned and unquestioned on both networks.
Still, more troops has always been the promised reward for a more acceptable Afghan government, and in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Senator John Kerry signaled a likely way forward that downplayed expectations ("Achieving our goals does not require us to build a flawless democracy... what we're talking about is "good-enough" governance"...) but indicated that simply agreeing to runoff elections was not enough:
President Karzai and Dr. Abdullah's decision last week to agree to hold a run-off election shows that both men are willing to put their country ahead of politics. But that result is not an end in itself. It will only matter if we use it as an opening to strengthen our partners and fix the problems of governance. The truth is, the decisions made and actions taken in the weeks and months ahead will be what really give meaning to that moment. If this is to be a turning point, we must strengthen the capacity of the Afghan government and insist that its leaders embrace lasting reforms. This must include addressing the problems caused by corrupt officials at every level of government. Obviously that won't be easy, but it is essential to any chance of success.
If the four brigade option as described here (with an allusion to Senator Kerry's speech) turns out to be that chosen by President Obama, the low-ball number will indicate decided displeasure with the Afghan partner.
Some of the senator's other remarks have already proven to be prescient; these illuminating comments...
If effective governance is to take hold--and I believe our mission depends on it--then our Afghan partners must tackle corruption at the highest levels. The fact that the Afghan government has not prosecuted a single high-level drug trafficker damages all our other efforts because it goes to the question of credibility. The narcotics trade - which generates about 90% of the world's heroin and $3 billion a year in profits - not only fuels the insurgency, but also finances the corruption that corrodes governance....would prove particularly well-timed, as the Obama administration moved beyond "warning shots" at Karzai and towards direct fire in this New York Times piece today:
Posted by Greyhawk / October 28, 2009 10:40 AM | Permalink
(Part one here) ***** As the scheduled November 7 second round election date draws near, last minute efforts to replace the Karzai government in Afghanistan are moving into high gear. From London:Dr Abdullah Abdullah is meeting his main allies in Kabul... 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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