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February 18, 2011
War is SwellBy Greyhawk
Time once again to dust off this old photoshop from 2005:
Here's a post from 2008 that I believe is the last time I used it. For all you folks born yesterday: the event depicted above never happened. No matter how many times people like Chris Matthews tell you otherwise, "average Americans" aren't that stupid. They (we, my friends) were well aware that the only person who knew with certainty the current status of Saddam Hussein's many WMD programs was Saddam Hussein. Here's how much we cared about the current status of those WMD programs precisely at the time we rendered the question moot:
According to a May 1 Gallup poll for CNN and USA Today, 79 percent of Americans said the war with Iraq was justified even without conclusive evidence of the illegal weapons, while 19 percent said discoveries of the weapons were needed to justify the war. An April Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 72 percent supported the war even without a finding of chemical or biological weapons. Similarly, a CBS News poll found that 60 percent said the war was worth the blood and other costs even if weapons are never found.
One way of looking at those results: If Bush lied, no one cared. Like all Americans, the participants in those polls (some of whom were undoubtedly caught up in the excitement of an apparent "easy win") would be fully entitled to change their opinions of whether the war was "worth it." In fact, Democrats did so quite rapidly. (The original May 17, 2003 Washington Post report is no longer available on their web site, but it's archived here, and its real focus was on why Democrats - other than party bellwether Dennis Kucinich - hadn't already started running with the "Bush lied" ball. The best answer was obvious: he hadn't, and no one cared.) While opinions can change, deciding later that Bush (or anyone else) tricked enough people to matter by lying about WMD in Iraq isn't a matter of changing opinion, it's an example of rewriting history.
And it's one of many damned effective examples to come from the last eight years of war in Iraq. As far as media/political campaigns go, this one was a smashing success. Every appearance of some new report/evidence that Iraq had no WMD (true) brought concurrent claims we were misled into war (false). But notable responses followed, most claiming that either Saddam did have such weapons (false, but immaterial) or that Bush wasn't lying - he was simply as wrong as anyone else about something that he was right to be very concerned about in the first place. That last bit is true but immaterial, but for years "Bush's defenders" have made both those immaterial arguments vigorously, and thus helped grow the fiction that it really mattered in the first place. That the Bush administration thought it mattered in 2003 is obvious - they did make their case. That this was a mis-read of contemporary American (if not global) public opinion is obvious from the results above. Equally obvious from the linked story is that Democrats were attuned to that public opinion in May, 2003, as they were the year before when they voted to authorize the war - or to a then-lesser (but perceived as political necessity) extent the (election) year after, when the media campaign (legitimized by the administration and its defenders' response, enhanced by a bit of reliable American "forgetfulness" - willing or otherwise - it facilitated, and weighted by ongoing bloodshed in Iraq) had at least succeeded to the point where candidates other than Dennis Kucinich could embrace the notion without fear of facing political extinction, and with some hope (forlorn as it turned out to be) of gaining the White House as reward for doing so. That they didn't is further proof not of ongoing delusion on the part of voters, but that on that issue a majority of them still didn't care.
That certainly didn't end the campaign. If in 2003 there were few Americans stupid or gullible enough to believe the immediate status of Saddam Hussein's various WMD programs mattered, by 2005 - a mere two years later - there were a few more than that number insisting that their fellow Americans had been duped two years before, and had been behaving as depicted in my photoshop effort above. Conversely, in 2005 there were none who recognized the need to point out the obvious: they had not. In 2011 no one (yes, Chris Matthews is an exception) wants to hear about it anymore - that's been true for a few years now. Beyond 2053 its entirely likely that young scholars examining news accounts of the day will conclude that the world back in Grandpa Gullible's time was exactly as depicted in my photoshop (and why shouldn't they?) - its journey from satire to reality will be complete.
That it mattered was only half the myth, but enough for this post. (My way of saying "more to follow.")
But here's one more picture - no photoshop this time...
Just a small part of the Greyhawk collection.
Posted by Greyhawk / February 18, 2011 3:05 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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