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!
April 13, 2011
Eight Years (part one)By Greyhawk
Mudville's eighth anniversary falls in a time period with lots of military anniversaries. One occurring this week - the 150th anniversary of the South firing on Ft Sumter, has (rightfully) gotten a lot of media coverage. Others, like the 70th anniversary of war in Libya passed mostly unnoticed.
The dreary scene at the Rats of Tobruk Memorial on Anzac Parade could not have been further removed from the searing heat and dust of the Libyan desert where 14,000 Australians, along with British, Indian, Czech and Polish forces, defied German and Italian attempts to take the vital port city of Tobruk during World War II.
Which category includes this event?
"Small crowd," I thought at the time. "Not a good sign." I'd started this blog less than a month before that statue fell, just a couple days before the ground invasion began.... hold that thought - imaginary phone call coming in. Hello caller, you're on.
"We could have probably brought down that statue for a lot less."
Well, hello there Nancy Pelosi from 2003. Sure, I agree, we could have just dropped a smart bomb on it from 30,000 feet. But what did you mean by that?
Anyhow, "Small crowd," I thought at the time. "Not a good sign." I didn't commit those words to this blog until a few weeks later - getting rid of Saddam was what it was all about, and people seemed so damned happy at the time, why spoil that with my gloomier thoughts?
Hang on - imaginary phone call, be right back. Hello?
Well, hello obscure state senator from Illinois giving a speech in 2002 that no one would hear for several years which I'm certain was an accurate reflection of your thoughts but also a compilation of several talking points others had been saying for some time. You do know we'd been at war with Iraq since 1991 - mostly via an air campaign, which is why bin Laden's (he called it "the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance") 1998 call to jihad ("The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it...") was effective in the first place, right?
You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people...Wait - you keep asking "You want a fight, President Bush?" Believe it or not, he didn't. He wanted Saddam Hussein to step down, but didn't think he would without the threat of war hanging over his head. Some Americans were so worried he might have been right they went to Iraq as volunteer human shields against an anticipated American air campaign. They didn't prevent a war - they helped ensure Saddam wouldn't back down. There's something I did get a chance to write down just before we "crossed the berm."
We'll never know what a united world could have achieved. But the UN could not agree on anything, the situation degenerated, and here we are. Status quo was not working. The French were too desperate for oil and trade at any cost. Well-intentioned Americans were led into the streets by Communists (and others) with an agenda. The media distorted the split. Many in America and abroad thought they could manipulate the situation to their personal gain. They miscalculated. The fire is lit.
I was on active duty - had been for longer than the 12 years mentioned above, so I was really hoping Saddam would leave Iraq before I had to go there, you know, "willingly take up arms myself," etc. You see, I was an actual "anti-war" guy. The people who ensured I would have to go really pissed me off back then. Honestly I suspected they were hypocrites whose positions would be different with a different US president...
Yeah, okay. Sounds good, I'll play along. Let's pretend you're President of the United States. (Heh - this guy's middle name is "Hussein" - no way will he ever be President of the United States, right?) You're putting everything you've got into "finishing the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda" and "hunting down and rooting out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance." How do you handle Saddam Hussein, or any dictator who "butchers his own people to secure his own power" but "poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors?"
...in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.
Okay, I guess if you ever get to be president we'll figure out exactly what you mean by that. You should give Nancy Pelosi a call...
I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war...
Wait, what? What's a rash war?
Okay, got it. At first when you said "rash war" I thought you meant a war we rushed into before anyone had the chance to debate it or even think about it, which is obviously not the case with Iraq. So when you're president we'll get bin Laden, give everyone health care, lower the poverty rate, end corporate scandals, boost the stock market, and not get into any rash, distracting wars. Got it. But just remember all that, because the public and the press will, and they'll hold you to it! I mean, you don't get to re-write history...
I don't oppose all wars. My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil.
Hey - small world. Patton's army liberated the POW camp where my uncle spent the last months of World War Two. See, we've got a connection!
Good stuff - glad to hear you know your Patton - so many folks only know George C Scott. But funny you should mention that... did you know Winston Churchill called World War Two "the unnecessary war"?
Guess he's not a Churchill fan.
Well, maybe we'll hear more from him later. So anyhow, the statue fell, Saddam was gone from power, and everyone knew that getting rid of a dictator was what it was all about...
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.
So that was the end of the "Bush lied about WMD" line; if he had, no one cared. I... wait, another imaginary phone call. BRB...
(More to follow...)
Posted by Greyhawk / April 13, 2011 12:45 PM | Permalink
Unbelievable! You might cry. Of course it is. (If it wasn't, it wouldn't be deniable.) But that doesn't matter. You're along for the ride... When it comes to Libya planning, I keep coming back to this cartoon.... I suppose I should explain it in full. ... Read More
Ever wonder what the fourth week of a planned one week war looks like? Wonder no more - it looks like this:Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other E... 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