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February 11, 2011
The Egypt Post (pro forma)By Greyhawk
... President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt resigned his post and turned over all power to the military... In Tahrir Square, the focal point of the uprising, many protesters were overcome with the emotion... Parents were seen putting their children on the tanks to have their photos snapped with the soldiers ... In a show of solidarity in at least lower levels of the army, three Egyptian officers shed their weapons and uniforms and joined the protesters...And...
The United States at times seemed overwhelmed trying to keep up with the rapidly changing crisis, fumbling to juggle its advocacy of democracy and the right to protest, its loyalty to longtime ally Mubarak and its fears of Muslim fundamentalists gaining a foothold.
Let's hope the mood in paragraph one prevails. As to the second, well, chaos management is no easy task; such events are rightfully compared to storms - a nod to their potential for violence and unpredictability. Beyond that, Egypt is for the Egyptians - or at least should be - and while the President of the United States has been accused of being many things, I haven't heard "Egyptian" among them.
If that sounds like a defense of the current US administration, perhaps it is. I think "explanation" is the better term. Explanation leads to understanding, understanding is the foundation for the future, and the future is what we ("we" being a part of that big, chaotic system) make of it. With that in mind, more explanation follows.
If you really want to understand our president, you must first understand the function of a community organizer. In simplest terms, he or she is a person who helps the less fortunate master the required skills to accomplish the various tasks necessary to improve their lot in life. In other words, whether it's food, shelter, clothing, money or other sundry items, the organizer will ensure they properly fill out all the right government forms so each can get according to their need. (Example: if you have a good community organizer in your community they've already explained the benefits you'll reap from the new health care bill - you may even have filled out some forms.) If no forms are available for some newly identified need they might even go so far as to organize protests or demonstrations demanding they be created.
So, no one should be surprised that when such a person becomes President of the United States he'll be a bit lost when looking around for the proper forms to fill out to overcome some challenge - i.e. do his job. (Though the Obama administration might be the first in history to organize protests against whoever he designates as responsible for that shortfall.) On the other hand, those things he is most able to accomplish will be form-related. The new START Treaty is a good example, a treaty being the ultimate "form" and such weapons among the biggest issues (for those who think long-term) in the world today. (Though many such forms are often viewed by those who fill them out as mere scraps of paper anyway.) For a second example, look no further than Afghanistan. While he was unable to get that nation or Pakistan to fill out forms, members of his own executive branch can't say no. So at the end of his first year in office once the president decided on his plan for the conduct of the war there - and discovered there was no available form to make it happen - he created a six-pager (dubbed a "terms sheet") for use by the US military.
But when it comes to potential crisis-level events like those in Egypt this past week (even though it involves a protest) there aren't any helpful forms available for President Obama's use. Ironically that same lack applies to most aspects of the job of being at the top of the US government, the world's largest form factory - so expect plenty more examples of overwhelming fumblejuggling in the years to come.
How many years? See comments about the future above. In less than two you'll get another chance to fill out a form.
Update: ...and credit taken (albeit through "sources" and "one official" and not for the president himself but for "the White House and Obama administration in general"). I didn't expect that 'til tomorrow. But here's an email from "A Democratic official" that lays it on even thicker. They must be at least a little optimistic at 1600 Pennsylvania, I sincerely hope that's justified. (Related: a list worth reading.)
And a piece from Fred Kaplan at Slate includes some insightful pondering on what a military government might mean for Egypt's future. One possible interpretation: the folks in the square could be celebrating the departure of the personification of their troubles with the real source of their troubles. Kaplan's analysis isn't entirely gloomy (in many ways it's optimistic), but the point that those smiling kids having their pictures taken with the protesters aren't really what anyone means by "military in charge" has Allahpundit concerned. His multi-updated post is a great single-source recap of recent developments.
Posted by Greyhawk / February 11, 2011 2:21 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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