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October 31, 2009
Round two (part two)By Greyhawk
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.
The Times report acknowledges that Dr Abdullah's decision "will also dictate to a large extent whether President Obama decides in the next few days that he has a credible enough partner to send more troops to Afghanistan as part of a new counter-insurgency strategy." For their part, the Obama administration has taken several steps this week to increase pressure on Karzai, and today's stateside reports claim Abdullah's decision to withdraw is all but made.
Earlier this week former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad indicated a power sharing deal would be struck, adding that Abdullah's chance for a favorable result in a run-off were slim.
The Times reported Abdullah "is much more likely to boycott, analysts say, to deny Mr Karzai the legitimate victory that he craves, especially in the Tajik-dominated north where most people support Dr Abdullah."
In an election marred by fraud on all sides, Abdullah received over 200,000 votes later ruled fraudulent, the majority from the northern sector of the country - a point that has all but vanished from American reporting on the topic since the Obama administration linked the American future in Afghanistan to Abdullah's place in a future government there.
Abdullah proved himself a well-prepared and adept politician by any standards during his cable television American debut last weekend. In responding to questions regarding President Obama's troop build-up plans during separate same-day appearances on CNN and Fox he assured CNN viewers that
"I think it's perhaps right for the president of the United States to see what is, what is then -- that is which is undertaken. That by no chance means that hesitance in the decision. That's, I think, studying the situation in a critical time, so I think the president of the United States is doing the right thing."...while providing a different perspective to those tuned in to Fox:
There is a need for more troops. There is no doubt about it. There are need in Afghanistan. And that's based on military analysis and especially by General McChrystal.
The Washington Post/Associated Press, on developments in the week since:
WASHINGTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - CNN, quoting an unidentified Western source, said on Friday election talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his rival Abdullah Abdullah had broken down and that Abdullah would likely announce he will boycott the Nov. 7 run-off vote.The AP:
A boycott would severely undermine a vote intended to affirm the Afghan government's credibility. However, an Abdullah spokesman said no final decision had been made on the candidate's pullout, and that Abdullah will announce his decision Sunday morning. It was possible that word of the boycott was a negotiating tactic by the Abdullah camp.
In Washington, the Obama administration maintained pressure on Karzai as an ongoing (and seemingly endless) flood of "leaks" from "officials" continued unabated. After opening the week by declaring (via the New York Times) his brother was actually a CIA agent, a series of "insider" reports followed.
With the November 7 date drawing ever closer, "sources" had another clarifying message for Karzai: "as of now President Obama will likely announce his decision about a new strategy in Afghanistan at some point between the Afghan run-off election, November 7, and the president's departure for Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, November 11."
But with a promised dramatic announcement from Abdullah imminent, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested a one-man runoff might still beconsidered "legitimate" after all...
...hedging administration bets, as the London Times offered an even more dramatic reminder that the potential dangers of the game go well beyond being on the receiving end of accusations of dithering from political opponents:
More worryingly, however, a boycott could prompt Dr Abdullah's backers to call their supporters out on to the streets for protests that could easily turn violent in a country awash with weapons.
So on second thought, "It appears increasingly likely that Obama will not announce his new Afghanistan strategy until after returning to the United States on Nov. 20. "
Posted by Greyhawk / October 31, 2009 4:41 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...)
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