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Donald Sensing has an email from the front on Rumsfeld in Iraq. I don't think there's ever been another SecDef that meant as much to the troops as Rumsfeld, there's an unprecedented bond between the man and the troops. It stems from mutual respect, grows from the real feeling of brotherhood of war that most military members feel at this time in history, and is strengthened by the us against them mentality that the media is fueling with their war on our boss.
Austin Bay is a Colonel in the Army Reserve and a syndicated columnist with a feature article in the current Weekly Standard. Beyond that he holds a title I look forward to claiming myself: veteran of service in Iraq.
An excerpt from his Standard story:
What are the acceptable End States in Iraq? In an essay he wrote for the Wall Street Journal in August, Iraq's interim prime minister Iyad Allawi identified three keys to success in Iraq: (1) security and the rule of law, (2) a prosperous economy, and (3) an "inclusive, collaborative" political system. To achieve it will take years of low-level warfare and continuing security assistance from the United States even after the New Iraq begins to manage its own domestic security. No administration of whatever political stripe should think otherwise.
Another acceptable End State would be what a friend called "a too strong, bulldog Iraq." Don't dismiss the notion out of hand. Here are the attributes: "New Iraq" decides to rearm for offensive capability--and the French or Russians sell it weapons. Angry at perceived Syrian, Iranian, or Saudi interference, a brave new Iraqi government turns to regional assertiveness as a way of solidifying domestic support. The United States could live with this End State, but it would seriously frustrate attempts to spur political evolution in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
A far less acceptable End State would be a "gentle" dictatorship in Iraq, an authoritarian regime that did not threaten the region but held Iraq together by force and smashed civil opposition in the name of domestic security. This would be an ideological defeat for the United States, the defeat salved if this New Iraq were an effective counterterror partner in the region. Early Coalition withdrawal, whatever the reason, would make this End State more likely.
The last acceptable End State, but one that further frustrates long-term American goals, is the oft-debated tripartite Iraq, with Kurdistan in the north, Shia-stan in the south, and Baath-istan in the Sunni Triangle and Al Anbar Province. This would be a dangerous mosaic, but for the sake of oil revenues the Baathists would have to police al Qaeda. Kurds and Shia areas would also destroy al Qaedaites.
Defeatists and cynics will argue it's too late for the United States to wage the Millennium War on ideological grounds. This ignores the fact that this war is ideological in its deepest origins.
Afghanistan is the guide. Afghanistan's October 9 presidential election was the most significant election in 2004. Obviously, it was significant for the people of Afghanistan, but it was significant too for the forgotten, trampled, robbed, and oppressed people suffering in Earth's various tyrannies--those who do long for freedom's fairer shake. The successful election was also a major step toward victory for the civilized world. This Millennium War is as much a war against fear, poverty, and anarchy as it is a war against the petty tyrants who harbor and sustain terrorists. The 8 million Afghans who voted, despite terror threats from al Qaeda and Taliban holdouts, rejected fear. The Afghan people acted, ignoring death threats made by religious fascists, the destruction wrought by 30 years of war, and the lack of "a modern transportation and communication infrastructure" (i.e., roads and telephones).
While reading it two thoughts occurred to me.
One, this may be the first post-election (and thus free of that questionable motive) item I've read approaching serious discussion of "end state" in Iraq. Of course, that ultimate "end state" is up to the people of Iraq, but certainly now that the American elections are passed and we no longer need pay lip service to talk of "exit strategy" and other code phrases for failure the debate among those whose opinions have been shown to matter would be worthwhile.
Two, actually I have seen a purportedly serious discussion of "end sate" in Iraq before, but it was from the left, before the war even started. From Alternet, under the headline "Bush Wins: The Left's Nightmare Scenario" Mark Levine, ("assistant professor in the History Department at the University of California at Irvine") writes of his thoughts on various "end states" for Iraq, and their palatability to leftist tastes:
The first is an optimistic "We Win" scenario, which would result from massive protests and diplomatic pressure forcing President Bush to postpone an invasion indefinitely. (What has yet to be addressed is what exactly we win if Hussein remains indefinitely in power and the sanctions go on killing Iraqis.) With war seemingly imminent, the movement is being forced to fall back on a second scenario, "Everyone Loses," in which the warnings of a protracted and bloody war that destabilizes the Middle East and increases terrorism bear their bitter fruit.
However unpalatable in terms of destroyed lives and infrastructure, this latter scenario would at least quash the Administration's imperial dreams and force the kind of soul searching of United States' policies that is a major goal of the movement. But this outcome is less likely than many assume, and the antiwar movement would be well advised to plan for a third scenario: "Bush Wins."
In this third scenario, the war is over quickly with relatively low U.S. casualties, some sort of mechanism for transitional rule is put in place, and President Bush and his policies gain unprecedented power and prestige. From my recent conversations with organizers and their latest pronouncements, it is clear that this possibility has yet to be addressed. Waiting much longer could spell disaster for the antiwar movement.
You see, what he's saying is, they didn't have a plan to win the peace. Those seeking insight as to why the left continues to insist that the "Everyone Loses" option described above is in fact what is happening in Iraq today should familiarize themselves with this genesis piece on that sort of thinking. The "We win" option went out early, and the peaceful and prosperous Iraq is beyond their ability to accept for the reasons the author makes clear. All of Colonel Bay's "End States" are, to one degree or another, their nightmare; Allawi's vision made reality might be more than they could bear. Every time a bomb goes off in Baghdad, every time another Iraqi election worker is murdered in the streets, the Mark Levines of America can nod thoughtfully over their copy of the NY Times or add comments at The Daily Kos. Fortunately last month American voters ensured they can do little more.
An interesting contrast between the vision of possible futures from two perspectives, a telling juxtaposition of priorities, and a fine illustration of what I meant in stating that "the debate among those whose opinions have been shown to matter would be worthwhile.
Some time in January Mudville will welcome its one millionth reader. To put that number in perspective, big blogs achieve it every week. Meanwhile, a million other blogs never will. I certainly thought I never would - through the first 8 month's of Mudville's existence the daily visits were rarely more than what the hourly totals are now.
My thanks to Mudville's top referrers for '04, in alphabetical order:
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller
Blogs for Bush
Doc in the Box
Little Green Footballs
Roger L. Simon
The Weekly Standard (Hugh again!)
Those familiar with the blogosphere will likely express no surprise. If you do see an unfamiliar name in the list above by all means click through and stay a while, these are folks with gravitas, and all are worthy of attention.
There's something worth mentioning here, however, and it speaks volumes to how the blogosphere works. Glenn Reynolds pointed it out in his review of Hugh Hewitt's new book:
He also catches on (actually, I think Hugh was one of the first to make this point, in a post on his blog) to the importance of what Chris Anderson is calling the Long Tail -- that in the aggregate, the vast hordes of small blogs with a few dozen readers are more important than the small number of big blogs with hundreds of thousands of readers. (Here's an article on that topic by Anderson, from Wired.) I think that's absolutely right, and Hugh has some interesting things to say about it. (And journalists mostly don't get this point at all -- every time I get interviewed it seems that they want firsts, mosts, and biggests, when I keep telling them that the real story of the blogosphere is the day-to-day interaction and writing of a whole lot of blogs).
"Indeed" (heh!). As supporting testimony, I'll point out that the bottom line of my referrers list compiles "all remaining" - and that total exceeds any of the above individual referrers save one. Approximately 150,000 people visited this blog last year via links from "all remaining" and of that fact I am grateful, humble, and proud. Thank you all.
As a result of this, I'm now able to cause a noticeable blip on other site meters with a simple link. I can't remember who I first heard use the term "Mudslide" for this effect, but I like it. It's especially fun to drop one on someone in that "all remaining" category, when the result looks something like what an Installanch does to me, and I hereby announce a new year's resolution to do so more often in the coming months.
A confession on this topic: back in those early days when I rarely saw 50 visits a day I was often hesitant to link to other sites, expecting the resulting lack of traffic flow to be visible evidence of my own insignificance. I now realize that nothing could be further from the truth. Such links undoubtedly brought me to the attention of more than a few good folks. And now if you'll take a quick look down my side bar you'll find a list of those who've sent traffic this way today. (See "cavalry" section.) This is where I turn to find things new and different in the blogosphere. There's no need to click the top guys for this purpose, it's the new names farther down the list I seek out, and each one I visit reminds me that the "Long Tail" is a source of brilliance, insight, and surprise beyond anything I'll find in the all too predictable mainstream media today.
I'll close this entry with a final point. I've said this before but I can't say it enough: thanks to all who place eyes on this page. You're the only reason any of this matters! Your emails and comments are appreciated, your criticisms are valued, your presence is what keeps me going here.
Here's to more in '05.
At least not this time. And you can count on one finger the number of times that's been said here.
Please go read.
In Mosul, a Soldier asks Donald Rumsfeld "Sir, how do we win the war in the media? It seems like that is the place where we're getting beat up more than anybody else."
Not to be outdone, the Washington Post ignores the exchange in their coverage headlined In Iraq, Rumsfeld Urges Persistence
No slackers on the West Coast! The LA Times ignores that part of the story in a piece titled Rumsfeld Drops In on Troops in Iraq
But the Philadelphia Inquirer tops them all with their story! Rumsfeld tells troops: More attacks likely - yeah! - that was the message!
Other than the glaring omission they are fairly balanced efforts though. Perhaps a sense of guilt on the part of reporters post-Mosul, something similar to that felt in humans?
A link in Ed Driscoll's top ten blog moments? Yea baby. Big time.
As the awareness of blogs continues to rise military members are increasingly taking advantage of the ease of long-distance mass communication to family and friends offered by the web-based medium. Outside of a few mainstream media dinosaurs it should surprise no one that intentionally or incidentally, unfiltered coverage of the war in Iraq is becoming readily available "back home" in near real time.
Consider this: a few short days before Christmas 2004 a suicide bomber entered the dining facility (DFAC) at an American military installation in Mosul and detonated his explosives, killing several Americans and Iraqis and wounding many more. I'll spare you my own thoughts on the event itself; several miles and a lot of concertina wire separate me from that spot on the map. And after all, why listen to me when no less than four blogs from GIs who were there (and a fifth with a letter from a GI there) are available to you now?
What follows may be a first of it's kind; a round up of observations of a specific event in an ongoing war, posted within hours of its occurrence by troops on the ground in the combat zone. Some of these have been heavily linked throughout the blogosphere, others overlooked by all. I'll excerpt from them, but these brief cuts won't do justice to the authors' efforts. Click through and read them, along with the other posts at their sites. It's literally history in the making.
The day began early as I didn't sleep very well last night. Once I was awake I decided not to just lay there and stare at the darkness so I got up, got dressed, shaved and headed into the TOC, the heart of what goes on. In the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) they monitor several different radio nets to keep abreast of what is happening in the area. It's the place to be if you want up to the minute information. When I arrived it was fairly calm. I made small talk with the guys there and sipped that first cup of morning coffee. The day was clear and there was very little going on, or so it seemed. A very short while later we received the initial reports.
He goes on to describe the events of the day, in detail, from a very close perspective.
A GI tells the tale of two Iraqi Soldiers who were in the DFAC at the time:
Both of them were blown from their seats by the blast, which they described as, "very powerful, lots of noise and heat." The two Iraqi soldiers were both dazed. One of them could only hear a loud ringing sound in his ears. The other couldn't believe his eyes: Every where he looked people were gasping for air or bleeding profusely. Before the two Iraqis lay a helpless American soldier, who staggered across the smoke-filled mess hall at first only to fall on the ground. They couldn't understand a word coming out of the American's mouth. They only saw the blood spewing from his leg.
These two men, both in their 20s, saw carnage caused by the very people they took an oath to defend Iraq against. These two men were proud Iraqis who were trained by U.S. Army Special Forces. These two men had seen enough people die at the hands of terrorists, and on December 21, 2004, they would do everything in their power to save every person they could.
Such should be noted along with every statement of the obvious: some Iraqis are against us, and they can don uniforms too. It's also worth remembering that among the first American casualties of the war in Iraq were those caused by an American soldier rolling live grenades into the tents of his fellow GI's.
The Docs at Mosul pick up where the Chaplain leaves off:
I completely lost track of time, so I am not sure when we finally got most of the return to duty patients out, but I am guessing it was around 1800. Then it was time to start taking care of the patients on the wards. More washouts, more CT's, and more chest tubes. It was not until around 2330 that we could actually sit back, catch our breath, and relax. There was not one person in our CSH that did not work their butts of today. The team work and overall job performance were second to none. As the docs sat around and tried to analyze what had just occurred we were all shocked. We could not believe what we had just been through. But even more important, we could not believe the way the CSH handled this situation which completely overwhelmed our system. By definition a mass casualty situation is when the number of patients and their injuries exceed the available resources . This was the mass casualty of all mass casualties.
The story they tell is incredible; along with the courage and fortitude of the American and Iraqi troops at the scene, the skilled medical teams and technology at their disposal saved more than a few lives this grim day.
Afterward they were interviewed by a military public affairs rep, who tried her best to get their story told:
Coincidentally, she reports that she sent this out to almost 1200 newspapers. She only heard back from a few... To me, THIS is news. Based on the overwhelming number of emails I have received, there are a lot of people out there who are interested in reading about this stuff much more often than reading about the daily reports of the numbers killed or wounded.
Ultimately a very few outlets would bother.
The aftermath of the attack, from yet another GI on the scene:
Sitting in our chow hall this morning, I couldn't help but look at it in another light. I saw the broken bottles of steak sauce mixed with puddles of blood on the floor, the food still steaming on the steam table, littered with rubble from the blast and the absolute chaos that the scene was, even when I got there after everyone had left.
One wonders where the heroes of Mosul had their Christmas dinner this year.
And how's morale in the aftermath? Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visits the wounded; within hours a stateside blog has an email from a doctor there describing the scene as he approached the bedside of a wounded GI (hat tip Instapundit):
That is when I, without any thought, piped in with "Sir, you can talk to him, he's awake." He told the soldier, named Rob, how proud he was of his service. The soldier was in a bit of disbelief, because he couldn't see with one eye patched and the other swollen shut. He said he wanted to talk to Rumsfeld. That's when I said "He's standing right to your left, Rob, that's his voice you hear. You can talk to him." The kid was nervous at that point, but sputtered out how honored he was to talk to him. Mr. Rumsfeld replied, "No, it's an honor for me to talk to you."
Then remarkably, the young soldier, who had just lost his left hand and right eye from an explosion, came to the defense of the Secretary of Defense, stating "Mr. Rumsfeld, I want you to know, that you are doing a fantastic job. I know that you are taking a lot of heat for the problems with getting armor for vehicles. I want you to know that things are vastly improved. Our vehicles are great, and I have never searched through junk piles for scrap metal."
At this point, Rumsfeld looked choked up, and I had a lump in my throat and and watery eyes. It was moving. What makes a man who has been so close to death, and maimed for life, come to the defense of the Army's highest ranking official? Loyalty, I dare say. Did Rob think Mr. Rumsfeld was having a self-esteem problem? In his greatest hour of need, his thoughts went to the emotional needs of another. I found it quite amazing, and moving. The Secretary took out a coin and gave it to a bystander for him, as if he didn't know he could touch him. Finally, the soldier said, "Man, Donald Rumsfeld, I wish I could shake his hand."
Later the secretary takes Q and A from the troops. CNN played it live on their Daybreak program, but could not have known what was coming. Much of the talk swirls around stop loss issues - often called a "back door draft" by those with little understanding of the seriousness of the military's business - when suddenly another topic arises. As you read it, bear in mind this question is asked by a soldier immediately following a horrific attack. Given the opportunity to address the SecDef, this is what was on his mind:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, how do we win the war in the media? It seems like that is the place where we're getting beat up more than anybody else. I've been here -- this is my third tour over here, and we have done some amazing things. And it seems like the enemy's Web sites and everything else are all over the media, and they love it. But the thing is, is everything we do good, no matter if it's helping a little kid or building a new school, the public affairs sends out the message, but the media doesn't pick up on it. How do we win the propaganda war?
RUMSFELD: That does not sound like a question that was planted by the press.
RUMSFELD: That happens sometimes. It's one of the hardest things we do in our country. We have freedom of the press. We believe in that. We believe that democracy can take that massive misinformation and differing of views, and that free people can synthesize all of that and find their way to right decisions.
Out here, it's particularly tough. Everything we do here is harder, because of television stations like Al Jazeera and al-Arabiya and the constant negative approach. You don't hear about the schools are open and the hospitals are open and the clinics are open, and the fact that the stock markets are open and the Iraqi currency is steady, and the fact that there have been something like 140,000 refugees coming from other countries back into this country. They're voting with their feet, because they believe this is a country of the future.
You don't read about that. You read about every single negative thing that anyone can find to report.
I was talking to a group of congressmen and senators the other day, and there were a couple of them who had negative things to say, and they were in the press in five minutes. There were 15 or 20 that had positive things to say about what's going on in Iraq, and they couldn't get on television. Television just said we're not interested. That's just sorry. So, it is, I guess, what's news has to be bad news to get on the press.
And the truth is, however, it gets through eventually. There are people in the United States who understand what's really going on over here. They do understand that thousands of acts of kindness and compassion and support that are taking place all across this country. They do understand that large portions of this country are relatively peaceful. And something like 14 out of 18 of the problems it's had, incidents of down around five a day as opposed to the ones in certain places like Baghdad that are considerably higher.
And the Internet is helping. More and more people are seeing things that are taking the conventional wisdom and critiquing it and arguing it and debating it. And that's a good thing.
So, we are a great country. And we can benefit from having a free press. And from time to time people will be concerned about it. But in the last analysis, look at where we've come as a country, because we have had a free press.
And we've -- I mean, I've got a great deal of confidence in the center of gravity of the American people. What hurts most is in the region, where the neighboring countries whose help we need are constantly being barraged with truly vicious inaccuracies about what's taking place in this country. And it's conscious. It's consistent. It's persistent. And it makes everything we try to do in neighboring countries, where we're looking for support, vastly more difficult.
And we, as a country, don't do that. We don't go out and hire journalists and propagandize and lie and put people on payroll so that they'll say what you want. We just don't do that. And they do. And that's happening. And Al Jazeera is right there at the top.
CNN reporters were not prepared for this, and responded accordingly (read carefully the statements I've put in bold highlight below, in light of the Mosul events):
COSTELLO: Karl, I wanted to ask you about a question a soldier posed to the defense secretary that blamed the media for not talking about the positive things that happen in the country. Tell us about that. And I guess I sort of want you to stand up for yourself, because it's so dangerous to travel in Iraq. It's tough to get to those good stories, isn't it?
PENHAUL: It's almost impossible these days, Carol. The real safe option these days is actually to be embedded with U.S. forces. The very unsafe option is to be in a civilian sector like we are here at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.
Once we're out there on the streets of Baghdad, we really are at the mercy of what's going on. And it's very difficult to show what's going on in ordinary Iraqis' lives.
Yes, it is quite true that there are military reconstruction projects going on. It is true as well that quite often we will focus on the military operations. But it is also true that this insurgency has spiked in a way that U.S. military commanders at this time last year didn't believe was going to happen.
And it's also true that if we try and go out on the streets of Baghdad, for example, to show Iraqis having to wait in lines many kilometers long to get gasoline, to show them in their homes without electricity for many hours a day, it is very dangerous for us to do that because there are insurgents out there. And they have kidnapped journalists before, and they've made it very clear they will continue to kidnap Westerners as they can -- Carol.
Worth noting, the officer that next got the opportunity to speak returned to the stop loss issue, offering the perspective of a man who'd been in country for a long time already; who'd seen the horror first hand. This from a man apparently planning his exit from the military, thus not seeking personal gain:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I just have a comment as an officer who is likely going to come under that stop-loss during his time here. I just want to say that there are people who understand the importance of keeping the integrity of a unit, and the stabilization of units is also a very good thing. And I wanted to thank you for that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we do understand that sacrifice comes with us all.
RUMSFELD: Well, God bless you for saying that. It is -- as I say, it is no fun for anybody to have to make that decision that they want to extend somebody beyond when they had every reason to expect they wouldn't be extended, or to have to impose a stop-loss to maintain unit integrity for the benefit of everyone in the unit and the effectiveness of our force.
But we do have to do it from time to time, and I thank you for speaking up and for saying that a great deal. God bless you.
All right, thank you, folks.
Is any of this earth shattering? No; it's just an inevitable step further on the road we once called the "information superhighway". I can't speak to the attention the press in the US gave the Mosul bombing. From what I saw on CNN it seemed that once the hopes thay had for decrying the lack of "armored chow halls" were extinguished by the revelation that the event was the work of a suicide bomber they rather quickly lost interest. Certainly after the embarrassment of CNN the visit from the Secretary of Defense was overlooked by most news sources, as Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs was able to find only this brief mention from Reuters:
MOSUL (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday took a delighted dig at the media after troops he was visiting in Iraq complained their good works were ignored by the press while disasters grabbed the headlines.
A soldier at his first stop in Mosul asked Rumsfeld how the "propaganda" worked?
Rumsfeld, under attack since he appeared to brush aside a question about poor equipment from a U.S. soldier in Kuwait that later turned out to have been composed with help from a reporter, jumped at the opportunity to turn the tables.
"That doesn't sound like a question placed by the press," he told his audience to loud applause.
A few hours later in Tikrit, the same frustration surfaced with another soldier complaining that she had a hard time explaining what they were doing in Iraq when she got back home and asking what could be done to get past the bad press.
Rumsfeld said the message was getting through anyway.
"I think the country does understand that we lost 3,000 people on September 11th and the fact that those people were operating in this part of the world ... You've seen the evil up close and personal, you know the danger that this poses.
"What you're doing is important. I think the American people get it."
But those in the media, previously the sole source for reporting on events and their impacts on the troops in a combat zone, should take note: there are other voices everywhere now. Your ignoring (or worse, twisting) of the scenes like this one will not make them vanish down the "memory hole".
Here; Rummy at a later appearance at Camp Victory, Baghdad, as 'reported' by Rich at Beef always Wins:
As part of his surprise (to the press at least) visit to Iraq, the Secretary of Defense stopped by Camp Victory, Baghdad this evening.
I just happened to be in the dining facility, in line for dinner when he showed up. I was nearing the front of the line and watching him make his way through the crowd of Soldiers when I noticed an NCO handing him a hat and apron.
Sure enough, as I got to the serving line Secretary Rumsfeld took his place behind the counter and served me a plate of fried shrimp with a big smile. He continued serving Soldiers for about 20 minutes until all the Soldiers had their food.
A big deal? No. Should it be on the front page of the NY Times? Depends - what else happened that day?
But it should serve as a wake up call to those who do control the front pages of newspapers everywhere.
Last year the Mudville Christmas list included about a half dozen blogs by soldiers and/or spouses overseas (including yours truly). This year we listed 25 in combat zones alone - again I'm one of them. (and I know we missed at least that many too). For most of these MilBloggers a trip home is in the near future, but certainly others will come to pick up the torch. So as much as I'd prefer having zero blogs reporting from combat zones at Christmas or at any other time, I've no doubt that if needed they'll be here.
So back to the question, yes, how can we win the war on the media? :)
Keep shooting boys, keep shooting. And this is a battle that folks on the homefront can fight too. My thanks to so many of you who have over the past year. I think we're starting to see the tide turn, and that the Secretary is well aware of what forces are turning it. Look for increasing questions on the credibility of blogs (or false fears about the security of MilBlogs) from the mainstream media as evidence I'm right.
Won't matter though, will it?
Here's to victory.
The terrorists responsible for Mosul Bombing thoughtfully describe their methods:
BAGHDAD ? A video posted by an Iraqi insurgent group yesterday purported to show last week's suicide attack at a U.S. base in Mosul, with a fireball rising from a white tent.
The group said the bomber slipped into the base through a hole in the fence during a guard change ? an operation carried out after a long period of surveillance.
The footage showed a black-garbed gunman wearing an explosives belt around his body ? apparently the suicide bomber, identified in the tape as Abu Omar al-Mosuli ? bidding farewell to his comrades. The video of the pre-suicide ritual gives no details about the bomber beyond his name.
The Ansar al-Sunnah Army earlier had said it would release a video of Tuesday's attack, which killed 22 persons, including 18 U.S. service members and civilian contractors.
The bombing ? the deadliest attack on a U.S. base in Iraq ? prompted a U.S. military investigation into how the bomber got onto the heavily guarded site and how security at bases can be improved.
Three Iraqi national guardsmen and a fourth "non-U.S. person" also were killed. The military has not said whether that fourth man was the bomber.
In the video:
"One of the lions from our martyrdom-seeking brothers will infiltrate the defenses of the enemy at the Morez base in Mosul.
"He will slip through a hole in the camp's wire, exploiting the changing of the guard. We have been observing their schedule for a long time.
"This lion will then proceed to his target, and he will take advantage of lunchtime, when the dining hall is crowded with the crusaders and their [Iraqi] allies.
"The operation will then be carried out. Let Bush, Blair and Allawi know that we are coming and that we will chase them all away, God willing," the terrorist said, referring to President Bush and Prime Ministers Tony Blair of Britain and Iyad Allawi of Iraq.
The two men then embrace the one wearing the explosives belt.
An image then shows a map of the base, as one gunman points out locations using a military knife. One location is marked "the dining hall" in Arabic.
A later outdoor video image ? shot on Tuesday, when the attack occurred ? shows a fireball rising from the distance with the accompanying sound of the explosion. A final image ? shot from a vehicle driving past the base ? shows the torn white tent that served as the base mess hall.
This should help speed up the investigation, and avoid repeats.
...is a soldier coming home.
For those troops that are reading blogs to get closer to home, our thoughts and prayers are with you. We love and miss you.
Come home soon.
I've spent too much on Christmas presents this year,
I think trying to compensate for you not being here,
but out of all those gifts under the tree,
the only gift these kids want is you to come home safe and free.
(Now this didn't start out to be a poem but after the first three lines it had to end as one. I think there's a poetic bug in the blogosphere air)
Oh, the snowflakes fell in silence
over Belleau Wood that night
For a Christmas truce had been declared
By both sides of the fight
As we lay there in our trenches
The silence broke in two
By a German soldier singing
A song that we all knew
Though I did not know the language
The song was "Silent Night"
Then I heard my buddy whisper,
"All is calm and all is bright"
Then the fear and doubt surrounded me
"Cause I'd die if I was wrong
But I stood up in my trench
And I began to sing along
Then across the frozen battlefield
Another's voice joined in
Until one by one each man became
A singer of the hymn
Then I thought that I was dreaming
For right there in my sight
Stood the German soldier
'Neath the falling flakes of white
And he raised his hand and smiled at me
As if he seemed to say
Here's hoping we both live
To see us find a better way
Then the devil's clock struck midnight
And the skies lit up again
And the battlefield where heaven stood
Was blown to hell again
But for just one fleeting moment
The answer seemed so clear
Heaven's not beyond the clouds
It's just beyond the fear
No, heaven's not beyond the clouds
It's for us to find it here
Dear Madam, DearSir, We wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and all your friends. And a great Thank You to all the people who has supported us to help the wounded Soldiers and Marines in Landstuhl. We will all the wounded troops are staying for recovery over Christmas in LRMC here in Germany a still and peace loving Merry Christmas and a great and good Happy New Year and more Peace of Earth.
- Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from home -
to all Soldiers, Civilian and Patients in the US Hospital in Landstuhl,
the Fisher House Landstuhl and the Kleber Barracks in Kaiserslautern!
On the 15th December 2004, a wonderful winter morning with blue sky and white frosted trees, we started with 2 cars our trip to Landstuhl. It was so cold, but no rain and snow! A great day began. So let me tell you: Our day in Landstuhl was, I cannot tell you, overwhelming. It was a large moment to see, that someone is so far away from home and you can treat to him and you see that he is overjoyed and his eyes beam with joy.
This is a story you don?t believe if you have everything what you like to have to live! Rudi told me he has never seen that someone was so happy to get a shower gel! He told me, ?Tell me how anyone can be happy only over a shower gel! As I set up an open box with personal hygiene items at the entrance of the Kleber Barracks because I had something left in my car. I saw as I came back that a soldier in uniform was standing nearby the box and looking in it! ? As my husband saw him the Soldier looked at Rudi and asked him: ?Sir, can I have this shower gel, only the shower gel please?? Rudi looked so surprised and said, ?Yes sure! All the things we have with us are for the soldiers, Sir.? In this moment the Soldier, he has been arrived in Kleber today, looked perfectly happy and he said so many thanks to Rudi. So a shower gel is sometimes such more as an expensive gift what you do not need at the moment!
First I must say ?Thank you? to all the wonderful people who donated so much good things for the 60 backpacks, 25 sport backs, and all the Christmas stockings which arrived here in Germany for to hand out to wounded Soldiers and Marines in LRMC and in the Kleber Barracks.
Our new Angel Mary Ann, an American from Munich, came with us with additional 47 filled backpacks, 20 CD player and 20 special backpacks for wounded women. And so it is the Soldiers Angels hope that we can bring the wounded service members - who are far away from home and loved ones in this holiday season - holiday greetings and a little bit of comfort.
The Fisher House is ?a home away from home?
Irene and Manfred Kilp, Mary Ann and I we met us at 9:30 am in Landstuhl on gate 3. At first we had an invitation to a wonderful musical program at the Fisher House! The Officers' wifes' Club from Ramstein AB were coming to present their Christmas program. They sung Christmas songs for guests of the Fisher House.
Here we met John, a wounded Airborne Division soldier with his wife. John is an outpatient and stays with his wife for recovery in the Fisher House. We wished both a wonderful Christmas under this specific circumstance this year. For his wife we had a nice German/English cooking book and for him a backpack with a handmade blanket and a large Christmas stocking.
A great thank you to Kathy Gregory, manager from the Fisher House Landstuhl for to give us her time to go with us to the wounded soldiers. We don?t know how it could works without Kathy and the Fisher House! Read more here about the Fisher House and how you can help: http://soldiersangels.homestead.com/Fisher-House-Germany.html
from left Manfred, Willie, Rudi and Irene
At the Hospital
LRMC is about eight miles away from Ramstein and is the largest U.S. Medical Center in Europe. It operates with outpatient clinics - one of them is in Kaiserslautern ? the Kleber Kaserne. Landstuhl has a capacity of 230 beds or more if it is necessary. Here you have inpatients who can have battle injuries with gun shot wounds, burns, amputations, or other non battle injuries as heart attacks and so on. And here are outpatients, who can go by themselves and do not need to lay down in a bed for recovery.
As we went to the hospital with Kathy, the manager from Fisher House and SPC W. from the Family Assistance Center with 60 filled backpacks with handmade blankets. Our sewing circles gave their time and sew the blankets for the wounded. These blankets will bring hope to so many of our wounded heroes. The Clair E. Gale Junior High School, ID as well as, Joyce from AZ, Paul and Berta from CA, Rosi from Idaho, Sarah from FL and the students from the East Hill Christian School 1st and 4th grade Pensacola, Fl and other Angels and friends have sent us to fill in the backpacks wonderful Christmas cards. A lot of other Angels have donated T-shirts, socks, underpants, candies, items for personal hygiene, books and more goodies. And we here in Germany have filled all the backpacks and sportbags. And without the personal help from Sgt. Leecharde R. Bersamina from the 1st AD this would not be possible, too.
The 150 Christmas stockings from the Soldiers Angels were a gift bag of goodies filled with reading materials, stationary, pens, socks, and selected toiletry items such as bath gels, shampoos, lotions, razors, dental products, or more goodies.
Operation Christmas From Home
As we handed out the first Christmas stockings in the Hospital the both wounded were so surprised that someone from home was thinking on them. Both asked me at once, "Who has made the wonderful Christmas stockings?" I told them, ??two great ladies, Sarah and Becky, worked over months to make this ready for you!? A doctor who was standing beside the bed of one wounded hero told me, ??it is a great thing that so much people from home spend their time and money to bring our heroes a so great Christmas gift. They must know that they are not alone?? You can believe me the both guys had tears in their eyes!
I'd like to thank Soldiers Angels for their time and dedication to make sure all of our soldiers feel loved.
Later we met Chaplain Young on the floor too and he told me, ??please give all Angels and friends a great thank you for all the good things the Soldiers Angels are doing for the wounded soldiers here in Landstuhl and Merry Christmas to you all?." The eight Christmas books we have with us, with - Christmas messages from home - we have let one in the Fisher House and the others in the Hospital and Kleber. Later as we were on the way to lunch I met Lt. Col. S. R., one of the chief nurses of the Landstuhl nursing staff and she said, ?? you all are doing a great work! Thank you again and Merry Christmas??
A Deputy Public Affairs Officer from Oregon National Guard asked me,? Please look for Staff Sgt. C. who will arrive soon from Iraq. We have heard he shattered the bones in his legs enroute to his base station in Iraq and was at the hospital in Baghdad due to be sent to Landstuhl for stabilisation prior to travelling to Army Hospital in the States?.? For the wounded Guardman we had a special backpack with a pair of trousers, t-shirt, underpants, socks, sweater, personal hygiene items, blanket and candies and more. It was not possible to visit him in person and talk to him. The security is very high at the moment! A nurse has brought in our name this backpack with a nice Get Well card to him and has given him out best wishes for a fast recovery! This is the most of the time normal I must say. Sometimes we can go and talk with the wounded soldiers and other times it is not possible like here. We are not sad about this! Security is very important today, terrible that we must say this.
Operation Christmas From Home
Our Angels Sarah LaPage, FL and Becky Morton, NC started in fall the project ?Operation Something From Home? to bring some love and cheer to the wounded soldiers in Landstuhl and other main military hospitals in the States. A lot of students and people from companies have helped to make 500 Stockings ready with a lot of personal items and goodies and more. And over 140 are arrived in Landstuhl and donated amongst other things from:
The Soldiers? Angels Foundation and Hershey Foods, PA. Hershey Foods sent the following message to our Herous: ?Please relay to the men and women that it is people like them who have made our great country what it is today, and we at Hershey Foods thank them for their dedication. Our hearts go out to them for so bravely serving our nation.? Cindy and Caley Trujillo, Kennesaw, GA. Caley is in the Girl Scouts, and chose Operation Christmas from Home as her service project! She and her mom Cindy contributed over 70 stockings to the project with assistance from: Girl Scout Troop 2161.
The many, many Soldiers? Angels who wrote Christmas cards and sent them to Sarah and Becky to stuff in the stockings for the heroes. There are too many of them for to thank here! Four schools in Pensacola, FL whose students wrote Christmas cards especially for our project. Despite being delayed in their lessons for several weeks due to Hurricane Ivan, these schools still took the time to do something special for our wounded soldiers: Little Flower Catholic School, East Hill Christian School, Alethia Christian Academy and Trinitas Christian Academy. If you have more questions about the Christmas Project 2004 or if you are interested to work with us for the next Christmas project 2005 please contact: Sarah LaPage: Soldiers? Angels, PO Box 699, Cantonment, FL 32533 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Becky Morton, Soldiers? Angels, PO Box 375, Graham, NC 27253, email: email@example.com.
Santa`s for Soldiers
You do not believe it! More Christmas Stockings were coming! From the project ?Santa`s for Soldiers?, from students of the Lewisville High School, 1098 W. Main, Lewisville, Texas 75067 came 145 stockings in 13 boxes to me for to bring it in their name to the wounded soldiers.
?Santa`s for Soldiers?
Posted on the wall at any ward in LRMC.
All students don?t have a lot of money, but they have big hearts. In all the stockings the soldiers didn?t find expensive stuff, but what they used so much, personal items and goodies.
"May No Soldier Go Unloved?
From Colorado we received wonderful 38 handmade ornament Christmas stockings from clients of Bernina Sewing Center which are donated over the Bernina store, Co. The filling was donated and suffered by church members, friends and family of Joan Pignon or others. From the Colorado Angels we had to talk to all wounded soldier: ?Thank you for sacrificing the comforts we are enjoying to go away from your family and friends, your hobbies and interests so that we can maintain our liberties. Thank you for going without creature comforts and for enduring extreme environments, hostile people, monotonous work, horrible scenes and repetitive meal selections. Thank you for sharing the generosity and concern of Americans with those who question our movies dislike our interventions. Again, thank you for your service to our country! We are praying for your health, safety, and optimism and for your family.?
"May No Soldier Go Unloved?
Christmas Stockings from a Colorado Contingent of Soldiers Angels
Our visit in the Kleber Barracks in Kaiserslautern.
On our trip to Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern a medical facility from Landstuhl came Darla and Jane with us. This was the first time that we were here. As we arrived in Kleber, at first SSG G. told us something about the Kleber Kaserne.
Here it is where soldiers stay who not requiring hospital beds but evacuated to Landstuhl stay here during appointments and medical treatment. The soldiers travel normally 30-40 minuets each way by bus to LRMC to have here their medical treatment. The barracks can hold 356 Soldiers, but average only 150. If necessary, up to 410 Soldiers could be accommodated in the second building they have. Here is a place where transient Soldiers can relax and recharge their batteries as they wait for their wounds to heal. At the moment every week 110 wounded come or leave Kleber. The average stay for a Soldier ? before returning to duty lasted not more than 15 days. The soldiers told us a stay at Kleber are short term and relatively comfortable. Here the soldiers have a pool table, library, free Internet access, movie rooms, reading room, Ping-Pong table, air hockey table, two day rooms, each with its own wide-screen television, a kitchenette and a telephone room where Soldiers can call their families for free. The soldiers here in Kleber do not need a phone card! The library has a lot of donated books and new magazines. Soldiers who come here receive two sets of desert battle-dress uniforms, a Gore-Tex jacket and a pair of gloves and a $250 AAFES gift card so they can purchase some civilian clothing. SSG G. showed us his full storage. He was glad that he has now enough uniforms for the soldiers.
After the lesson from SSG G. our hard work started! At first we all together brought the Christmas stockings in the large hall on the first floor. We all drove a lot of nails into the wall and have hung up all Christmas stockings on the wall. So all soldiers could take a wonderful Christmas gift by themself.
A younger and an older soldier were coming to us and say thank you for the stockings. And Kathy introduced us Germans working together with the Soldiers Angels to make this ready for them. They asked us if they can make pictures of our group and we said ?sure?. And so they beamed with joy!
Jane, Kathy and Rudi.......................Irene and the Christmas Stocking
All the soldiers who were coming in or went out, or were sitting in the TV room we have given a Christmas stocking. They asked us currently, "Who has made these wonderful Christmas stockings". They all were so surprised that we have brought such gifts for them.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Let us hope that the next year will bring us more peace and freedom in our world.
And thank you to all the women and men to fight for us the war against the terrorism.
Wilhelmine Aufmkolk, Germany
"May No Soldier Go Unloved?
Far from hearth and home, watching
Cold alone but not alone
On distant shore and only wanting
Safe return and little more
What tales we'll tell
When that time comes
When tales can be told
When things grim
Seem far away
When other fires go cold
Some distant sunset, vision fading
And tired eyes gaze 'pon folded flags
While distant drums beat their refrain
Saluting fallen friends whose names
And youth will never fade
Here's to those on other shores,
for them live well, the price is paid
-- Iraq, December 2004
Deployed far from home and hearth this Holiday season, awaiting a bit of cheer via comments:
And those who wait:
Visit here; spread Christmas cheer
and if you can, throughout the year
(missed any? Leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
‘Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one-bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.
As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.
With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.
I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.
He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?
His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.
Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.
I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.
He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”
With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.
I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.
It's courtesy of WLIT's Melissa Forman (thanks to Sara B. for the link). Below is the credit from WLIT:
Written by former Marine Corporal James M. Schmidt, in 1987 when stationed in Washington D.C., it was pounded out on a typewriter while awaiting the commading officer's Christmas holiday decoration inspection. It was originally title "Merry Christmas, My Friend", and was an instant success that reportedly brought tears to the eyes of the barrracks Commander who ordered it distributed to everyone he knew. It appeared in the barracks publication Pass in Review in December 1987 and Leatherneck Magazine in December 1991.
The poem was recorded as a tribute by Father Ted Berndt, a former Marine and Purple Heart recipient during World War II, currently residing in Dousman, Wisconsin for his daughter Ellen Stout, a Clear Channel radio personality.
My version seems a little different than the Audio. The original poem is here
Hat tip to BlackFive for audio
Does it seem to you that there's lots of bad news lately?
It seems that way to me every year...
This is my favorite
A Soldier's Christmas
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed 'round the room and I cherished the sight;
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell....a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight;
The sparkling lights on the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep;
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered in peace, then I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it came to my ear;
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble. I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near;
Standing out there alone in the cold of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I reckoned, some eighteen years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled there in the cold;
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, my wife, and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment! It's freezing out here;
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on this cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment, I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold, and the snow in a drift;
To the windows that danced with a warm fire's light,
Then he sighed, and he said, "It's really all right."
"I'm out here by choice. I'm here all the time,
It's my duty to stand at the front of the line;
No one has to ask me, or beg, or implore,
I'm proud to stand here like my father before."
"My grandpa at Pearl, on a day in December,
Is a memory my grandma will always remember;
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam,
And now it's my turn, and so, here I am.
I've not seen my family in more than a while,
But my parents send pictures. They're great for a smile."
Then he bent down and carefully pulled from his bag,
The Red, White, and Blue. An American flag.
"I can live through the cold, and this being alone,
Away from my family, my house, and my home;
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole, with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life for my buddy.....my brother;
Who stand here with me against any and all,
To insure for all time that this flag does not fall.
So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
Give you some money? Prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you do,
Being away from your home and your family too."
Then his eyes welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget;
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone;
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, wither standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled,
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you, as you mattered to us."
By Michael Marks? 2000
In the aftermath of the bombing in Mosul, life goes on:
Sitting in our chow hall this morning, I couldn?t help but look at it in another light. I saw the broken bottles of steak sauce mixed with puddles of blood on the floor, the food still steaming on the steam table, littered with rubble from the blast and the absolute chaos that the scene was, even when I got there after everyone had left.
There is no other option.
Where are you having Christmas dinner this year?
The last straw. Fire this man, Mr Rove, fire him now!
Christmas Eve Question
"Mommy, who brings Santa presents?"
(it was his hundredth question of the day)
His little face gazed up solemnly;
She was at a loss for words to say.
She hugged him tight and smoothed his blanket
and thought of Santa and all that flying
?round a world caught up in tragedy,
a world at risk ? so many dying.
Yet this unselfish five year old
with Christmas starlight in his eyes
had to think and wonder who
would give Santa his own surprise.
Then carefully she chose her words
so he would understand
how the scope of Santa?s trip
?cross each and every land.
"Your Daddy and men like him, son,
give Santa gifts this night
each time he leaves the North Pole,
they help him plan his flight."
"They tell him when it?s safe to fly
so he?ll come to no harm
from our Okinawan high rise
to the smallest German farm.?
?In camouflage they guard him
from every dune to each oasis ?
in deserts torn apart by war,
bringing gifts to hiding places.?
?Helicopters are his mountain escort,
protecting him at such a price!
So Afghani boys and girls like you
Will have candy, toys and even rice.?
?When he flies over seas and oceans
ships and carriers light his way
while submarines listen in on sonar ?
none will let him go astray.?
?Men like Daddy guard the White House too,
as they watch our flag fly free,
then map out a route past the ?No Fly Zone?
towards Grandma?s in Albany.?
?He whispers his thanks to those standing guard
in Arlington, this dark lonely eve;
bows his head in respect for those who have died,
asking comfort for those who grieve.?
?He?ll stop off quick at Quantico,
and Parris Island too,
they?ll refill his pack with toys there,
for kids not as lucky as you.?
At Camp Pendleton he?ll land the sleigh ?
For the reindeer need to rest
And even Santa needs to eat and drink
(they?ve left cookies and milk in the mess.)?
?So you see sweetheart, he does get gifts
all through our Christmas Eve night.
He?s safe, he?s guided, protected and loved
Throughout his worldwide flight.?
?Men like Daddy give him the same gifts
they bestow on the world each day.
All gifts can?t be wrapped up in ribbons and bows,
can you see what I?m trying to say??
and we can stay calm and serene.
He belongs to the world, but especially us ?
You see, Santa was once a Marine.?
To those that are grieving our lost soldiers.
If I could do whatever I want to do
To make complete your gladsome Christmas-Day,
I would not bring a single thing to you,
But I would come and take some things away.
I'd take away all trouble from your heart,
Each pain and sorrow I would have relieved;
And every word that caused a single smart,
And every hour through which you sadly grieved.
I'd have them all begone - forever gone
Forgotten like the things that cannot be
And then each hour would be a joyful one
For only good things would be left, you see
Now that is what I'd really like to do,
If I could do the things I wish for you.
Tony Blair and Iyad Allawi, in Iraq yesterday:
Prime Minister, can you just give us a sense of your feelings today. You flew here in secrecy, under armed protection, into what is still a safe zone, more than a year and a half after Saddam fell. Can you honestly say to yourself, this is what I meant to bring about when I said that we will ...?
That is a good question. I will tell you exactly what I felt coming in. Security is really heavy, you can feel the sense of danger that people live in here, but what I felt more than anything else was this, the danger that people feel here is coming from terrorists and insurgents who are trying to destroy the possibility of this country becoming a democracy. Now where do we stand in that fight? We stand on the side of the democrats, against the terrorists. And so when people say to me well look at the difficulties, look at the challenges, I say well what is the source of that challenge? The source of that challenge is a wicked destructive attempt to stop this man, this lady, all these people from Iraq who want to decide their own future in a democratic way, having that opportunity. And where should the rest of the world stand, to say well that is your problem, go and look after it, or you were better off with Saddam running the country, as if the only choice they should have in the world is a choice between a brutal dictator killing hundreds of thousands of people, or terrorists and insurgents. There is another choice for Iraq, the choice is democracy, the choice is freedom, and our job is to help them get there because that is what they want. And you know sometimes when I see some of the reporting of what is happening in Iraq in the rest of the world, I just feel that people should understand how precious what is being created here is. And those people from that Electoral Commission that I have described as the heroes of the new Iraq, every day, a lot of them aren't living in the green zone, they have got to travel in from outside, they do not know at any point in time whether they are going to be subject to brutality or intimidation, even death, and yet they carry on doing it. Now what a magnificent example of the human spirit, and that is the side we should be on.
I may add a few points to what Prime Minister Blair has said. Iraqis do not see what happened as invasion, as I clearly said that we deeply appreciate the commitment of the international community to have helped the Iraqi people to rid Iraq of ... and to stand with us in fighting terrorism. Frankly what you see now, the security, is a manifestation of a war that is being waged against us by evil forces. We have to stand firm, we have to stand tall, we have to defeat the insurgents, we have to defeat the evil forces, we have to defeat terror, and this is really to protect the whole world and the generations to come. We are adamant that we are going to proceed with the democracy, with the freedom, with the rule of law, with respect of human rights, these are the important values that have been brought into Iraq, and for the first time the Iraqis feel the sense of liberty, it is a dream which is becoming true. We don't expect forces ... against us just to stand idle, to see this huge construction going ahead in a peaceful way. This what you see now, inshallah will disappear in the very near future.
Words not intended to address yesterday's events, but remarkably apropos.
This is beautifully written, and thought it would be befitting to all those lost.
Twas the night before Christmas, the house seemed so sad, Early this year, this family lost ?Dad.? He?d been a soldier, in Afghanistan serving, To help people live free, now thankful, deserving.
His wife and the kids have cried a river of tears,
They had known this could happen, through all of the years.
It?s a dangerous business, no place for wimps.
Some don?t come home, some others with limps.
As I slipped down the chimney, I really did dread?
That I?d fall straight apart in this house with war dead.
I crept from the hearth, wondering what would I see,
What my eyes would behold, in this land of the free.
The home was decorated, with the tree and some lights
The milk, plate of cookies, and some other tasty bites.
Next to this was a note, from the boys up in bed,
I picked the page up and here?s what it said.
Please go read the full version written by MajorDad
Well the holidays are here.
Everyone is filled with christmas cheer,
But the life of a soldier is so alone,
As he leaves his wife and kids at home.
He's serving his country in some foreign land,
He longs just to hold his daughter's hand.
From the smiles on her pretty face,
To her little dresses, made with lace.
He wishes and dreams of being home on
Christmas day. To sit and watch her see
If things went her way.
I hope you get everything that you wanted,
And then some too.
I promise you sweetie,
Daddy will be home soon.
I love you,
By Keith Goins
On March 16, 1988, 5,000 residents of Halabja, a Kurdish city in eastern Iraq, were killed and 10,000 injured when Saddam Hussein's army attacked with chemical weapons ? perhaps the largest-scale use of such weapons against a civilian population in modern times. That morning, Iraqi Air Force planes bombed the city with a lethal chemical cocktail of mustard gas and sarin, tabun and VX nerve agents. Two days ago, the man accused of overseeing the attack, Gen. Ali Hasan al-Majid, also known as Chemical Ali, appeared before a judicial tribunal in Baghdad. He is likely to go on trial next year for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in connection with Halabja and a series of other atrocities allegedly carried out by forces under his command.
In Halabja on that terrible day, families hiding in their basements (the safest place to be when Iraqi troops launched conventional artillery attacks) began vomiting and died of suffocation as a result of the chemical weapons attack. As the gas spread, birds began dropping out of trees, cows collapsed and women and children attempting to flee the city went blind. As children fell, their panic-stricken parents abandoned them by the side of the roads leading out of town. Dr. Christine Gosden, a professor of medical genetics at the University of Liverpool in Great Britain, who has visited Halabja to study the effects of chemical weapons, reported that long-term effects of their use include eye and respiratory problems, severe skin problems, mental difficulties, miscarriages and infant deaths.
Later, addressing members of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party, al-Majid spoke about the Kurds on a tape obtained by Human Rights Watch: "I will kill them all with chemical weapons...Who is going to say anything? The international community? F?- them!"
How will the media spin it? Here are some early indicators:
The London Telegraph: Trial of Chemical Ali can't end the suffering of his victims
The Seattle Times: Iraqis criticized for secret hearings
Dallas Mornng News: Hearings for Hussein regime blasted
The Washington Post: Can this man get a fair trial?
The trial is at least a month away.
The headline over this story reads "Brash Guardsman Isn't Sorry":
The National Guardsman who put Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the spot about having to scavenge metal to boost the armor on military vehicles says he has no regrets.
In speaking out for the first time, Thomas Wilson declared: "If this is my 15 minutes of fame, I hope it saves a life."
"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills?" he asked Rumsfeld in a Q&A nearly two weeks ago. The secretary's response, that "You go to war with the Army you have," spawned a storm of criticism.
"Personally, I didn't like that answer," Wilson told Time magazine, though he was quick to add he meant no disrespect and that he is a big supporter of President Bush. But Wilson brushed off reports that he was coached by a reporter to quiz Rumsfeld.
The reporter "suggested a less brash way of asking the question," he added. But "I told him no, that I wanted to make my point very clear," Wilson said.
That, of course, is the Reader's Digest Condensed version of the give-and-take between the two. But hey, why let facts interfere with the story?
Sorry or not, however, now that the claim that Spc Wilson's unit was traveling into Iraq with unarmored Humvees has been declared false he may soon be a sorry son of a bitch.
Meanwhile, Spc Keith Lucas actually is in Iraq, and spending a lot of his time clearing roadside bombs. He does have off-duty time though:
Spc. Keith Lucas, a Missouri National Guardsman on duty clearing bombs from roads in Iraq, participated Saturday in the commencement ceremony at the University of Missouri-St. Louis with the help of a satellite hookup. ?Hopefully, we'll get back real soon,? Lucas told fellow graduates watching him live on a giant screen. The 26-year-old mass communications major was given a minute-long ovation. Lucas' family accepted the diploma on his behalf. ?It shouldn't be just for him ? it's for all those guys over there,? said his father, Larry. Keith Lucas is due back in the states in February.
Not sure if Spc Wilson will have that much free time on his deployment... (que the NCOs...)
Hugh Hewitt, on Time magazine noting a "blog of the year":
This recognition is greatly deserved but also a little ironic --as if, in 1940, the radio networks got together to award a "television reporter of the year" award.
Geeesh, some people just can't show simple gratitude.
The fact that it's been a year since my response to Time's cover story reminds me that after another year with an increasing number of front-line blogs, emails home, and other real-time communication from GIs here we've seen little change from some sources in tone of coverage on the supposed "GI view" of the war. The fact that the media storyline hasn't changed is not surprising, the fact that so many are willing to believe it is unfortunate.
The fact that blogs have come a long way in that same 12 months shows that increasing numbers of people are not so inclined, and I remain hopeful for the year ahead.
So continue to put words in our mouths at your own risk, you priests of a crumbling temple. We've our own platform now, and we'll call you down from that lofty tower...
Here's OIF vet Jason Van Steenwyk responding to the Christian Science Monitor via letter.
Here's Michael at A Day in Iraq recounting stories of his previous assignment in Iraq and his ongoing preparations to return here. A quote: "I can't think of anywhere else I would rather spend over a year of my life."
Now I could name a couple, (but here's to better years!) but I recognize his sincerity, and I know exactly what he means. Others in DCUs do too.
How would a cynical mainstream media respond to such?
Cori Dauber notes another case of the "demoralized military a la Vietnam" theme in the press.
Rick Atkinson, author of the subject piece, wrote the book "In the Company of Soldiers", one of least informative accounts I've ever read from an embed on the invasion of Iraq. Atkinson recounts a large share of the negative reporting throughout the actual march on Baghdad; we trained for the wrong foe, sand and dust will stop us, Baghdad will be a nightmare of door-to-door combat, etc. etc. Even after the fact in the book he couldn't really bring himself to rise above his pre-war conclusions that 1) the war was unjustified and all about oil and 2) the war was a series of U.S. failures culminating in the capture of Baghdad but so what?
Atkinson from Soldiers:
On Forward Area Refueling Points (FARPs):
With stupefying obtuseness, the military had named the FARPs for oil companies, despite Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's insistence that the invasion of a country with 112 billion barrels of confirmed reserves had "nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil".
On the motivation of U.S. Soldiers:
But most soldiers evinced a cool detachment toward their potential Iraqi adversaries. Certainly no hate lodged in their bones. Many had an inchoate conviction that this deployment was somehow linked to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, a delusion encouraged by the nation's political leadership. Long before 9/11, however, the Army had become an expeditionary force that careered among global hot spots. If they were modern legionnaires, these soldiers nevertheless thought of themselves as defenders of a secular faith embracing sundry liberties and entitlements, including many that were noble, and others - such as the daily consumption of more than 25 percent of the world's oil supply by only 5 percent of the world's population - that were less so.
On finding a warehouse complex full of boxes labeled 'Oil-for-Food':
As we poked about, I catalogued the emporium. Warehouse No. 4: fifty-kilo sacks of sugar from France and twenty thousand bags of black tea from India. Warehouse No. 10: cooking oil from Malaysia. Warehouse No. 19: detergent powder - the place smelled like a lemon grove - from Algeria and Syria. Warehouse No. 5 was my favorite: bed sheets, Phillips flat-screen televisions, men's underwear, throw rugs, light bulbs, candles, compressors, pencils, erasers, light switches, trash bags, and, not least, a carton of box cutters. Perhaps, I thought, we had found the elusive link to Al-Qaeda.
That final comment being particular ironic in light of the growing Oil for Food scandal.
His otherwise straightforward account is marred by political injections into what is actually a 90 percent non-political look at an army at war. But in the end - perhaps in fear of being labeled a "Bushie" - he can't resist spilling his personal views out onto the page. His opinions on the war are anything but inchoate; his attacks are like little IEDs shoehorned in at various spots throughout his prose, catching you when you're off guard.
Atkinson's previous effort, "An Army at Dawn", was a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of WWII battles in North Africa, a campaign marked by initial failures that nonetheless set the foundation for eventual victory. In "Soldiers" he actually recounts learning he'd been honored with the Pulitzer while in Iraq during the war. I haven't read that one, but I'd expect his problem is presenting real-time data vs. history, the latter being somewhat more malleable in the hands of someone unconcerned with accuracy, or a response from those who were there. Perhaps he expects that years from now his work on Iraq will be the definitive shaper of thoughts on this age?
Here's a quote from his latest article:
But as this war grinds on, as these dead stack up, soldiers and their families are faced with the appalling suspicion that their troops are risking their lives in a cause that is uncertain at best and illegitimate at worst.
The son of an Army officer, Atkinson is ever careful to wrap his nay saying in a thin armor of feeble praise for those in uniform. But guys like Michael or Red Six or 2Slick keep showing up on the horizon, and certain 'embeds' would do well to take note.
Even tanks get destroyed some times, don't you know.
Dear Mr & Mrs Greyhawk
Wishing you a relaxing and happy Christmas and an exciting - and safe - 2005; and thanking you for your support throughout this year.
This is the last edition of "Good news from Iraq" for 2004 - as always, there's plenty of news under-reported by the mainstream media - and as Iraq is moving closer to the election, the segment will definitely be coming back in 2005:
Let's not forget the ones that do their best to patch our boys up before they send them home:
"'Twas the night before Christmas as I flew o'er the Army Post,
when I spied a young man who seemed out of place.
His eyes showed compassion, his hair a bit short,
but his head was held high and his body was strong.
His air was confident, his uniform smart,
but what impressed me most was the size of his heart.
For he embodied honor, one of this country's best,
and the words U.S. Army showed large on his chest.
As I stood there in wonder and gazed into his eyes,
the words that he spoke took me quite by surprise.
"What's wrong Santa, haven't you ever seen a Medic before?"
I sensed something special and longed to know more.
"To be honest, this field thing wasn't part of my plan,
but the Army didn't give me a hospital or garrison."
The words he spoke next surprised me all the more,
"But I'm as proud of my Unit as I am of the Army!"
"Don't worry Santa, that I'm a Medic you see,
for when a Soldier goes down they will still call on me.
They'll forget I'm a Soldier, they'll call in my stock.
At the top of their lungs they'll yell ,"Medic!"
"And I'll answer that call, anytime, anywhere.
Though I know I'm a target I really don't care.
I'll face incoming fire as I race cross the land,
and use my very own body to shield a downed man."
"Working long hours and into the night,
my unit's battle is over, but I'm just starting to fight.
For the life of every Soldier is sacred to me.
I refuse to surrender them to death, and in that I'll find victory."
"And yet I'll take the time to comfort a dying man,
to sit down by his side, to reach out and hold his hand.
For it takes as much courage to care as to fight.
For just as the poem says, many don't "go gently into that night."
"Santa, it's not any one uniform that makes you a man,
but rather it's those ideals for which you choose to stand.
I draw my line here, it's long and it's plain.
For pain, hurt and suffering are the things I disdain."
I know very well that I may lose my life,
So that a Soldier may see an unmet child and young wife.
So Santa, it really doesn't matter if they don't like my hair.
I'm a Army Medic, their Doc, and I'll always be there."
"I follow the brave docs who have come long before,
from North Africa, Korea, and Vietnam?s shore.
As history proudly shows, they all gave their best,
and for those who have died, surely they're blessed."
"At Inchon, the gulf and times during Tet,
our brothers have fallen, but we carry on yet.
For we carry their honor and legacy still."
As I held back my tears it took all of my will.
I had to leave him there for I had other plans,
but I knew in my heart that the Army is in good hands.
As I flew away I heard his laughter, it rang so loud and clear.
"Hey Santa, how 'bout a nice pair of boots for the 26 miler next year?"
By the way, if you?re interested in what combat troops have to say about the armor issue, read this.
And in the amazing coincidence department, that story also involves Sgt Lizzie
Hat tip for those last two to Sarah.
Friday night, my kids and I went to see the visiting USO show that just came from Iraq and Afaganistan. Greyhawk was kind enough to work the shift so that his boys could see the show, so he missed the USO's visit to Iraq. Here's my report Greyhawk.
The Tops and Blue entertained us while we waited for the show to begin and they were some very talented singers.
The show started with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers.
Robin William, John Elway, Blake Clark and a pin up model, Leann Tweeden were here and performed a great show. These guys have been very busy. The day before this, John Elway, Robin Williams, Leeann Tweeden and Blake Clark listen to remarks by General Richard B. Myers at the ground breaking ceremony for the Pat Tillman USO center at Bargram AB, Afghanistan.
Now at our show Leann talked about her dad being in Vietnam and what USO ment to him and how these help make it happen.
Then John Elway came out a threw a few autograghed footballs.
My 5'1 and three quarter" frame had no chance at catching one of these.
Blake Clark, who was an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam, was hiliarious.
His impression of Steve Irwin the crocidile hunter catching Al qaeda was great.
Then for the grand finally, Robin Williams who was in top form making everyone laugh till they cried.
May he live to be a 100, like the legendary BoB Hope.
Now the real stars of the evening were these folks.
The wounded soldiers from Landstuhl medical center that were well enough to come out in the cold to see the show. (The ones in desert camo. Sorry for the bad pic, couldn't get close enough for a good shot.)
All in all it was a great show and although I would have liked for it to have been a little longer, those wounded soldiers that couldn't come out, were not going to be left out. Robin and the rest of the USO group paid a vist to the wounded a Landstuhl Regional Medical Center after the show.
The USO’s commitment to be America’s link with her men and women in uniform has and will always provide a "touch of home" for as long as we have those in service to our country and for that I thank them.
A Christmas Bow for My Soldier
Our yellow ribbon has faded, so we tied a new one tight
A bold symbol to represent your spirit glowing with Christmas light,
It's color reminds us of all you are going through
And your heart of love that beats for what is true.
More than ever at Christmas, we do want you...to come home to stay,
But as God has another plan, we'll try hard to be brave on this special day.
Oh how so dearly we wish..you were with us here,
Home in our hearts, forever near.
How much we want to hold you...close and never let you go,
To keep you from harm, no more suffering to know.
We are praying angel comfort for you in all your pain,
So you will feel the peace of Christmas instead of chilling rain.
For, you have such courage..brave loyalty in your heart,
A call to be a blessing where you are, that keeps us apart.
So, while we'll miss you so..our hearts also beat with pride,
As we celebrate yuletide this year, without you by our side.
But, in spirit you are here..just as if you never went away,
For the Christmas love we share, means you will be with us on our day.
Close forever, never to part..held together for the same arms,
Up-hold us, as the ones that keep your soul from harm.
Each day we wake and pray God your heart to keep,
And may you dream many sweet memories as you sleep,
While you lay beneath the shining stars above,
Surrounded by eternal love.
God brought you into His world so long ago,
For you to set others free from the tyrrany of the foe,
You go forth every day, with your life to give.
That precious little ones may come to know truth and be free to live,.
We send you our blessing, we send you our Christmas love
If somehow our wishes can bring you light from above,
To surround your heart with that first Christmas joy and peace,
So that litttle boy delight will never cease.
The color of your life will never fade, your rich beauty is tied in place
and your light will glow forever...for in our heart, we see your face.
NEW YORK Once again, newspaper reporters score poorly in the annual Gallup Poll, released today, on ?honesty and ethical standards? in various professions, as judged by the American public. They rank even lower than bankers, auto mechanics, elected officials, and nursing-home operators.
To put this in perspective: Newspaper reporters are even less respected than their TV counterparts.
Somehow, however, they top lawyers, car salesmen, and ad directors. And they also edge business executives and congressmen
At the top, 79% gave nurses high or very high marks. Other categories, in order: grade school teachers, pharmacists, military officers, doctors, police officers, clergy, judges, day-care providers, bankers, auto mechanics, local officeholders, nursing home operators, state officeholders, TV reporters, and then newspaper reporters.
A lot of fine reporters in the world should be outraged at their fellows who bring them low. Of course, this story says nothing about who's who and why the results are as they are.
By the way, you nurses, teachers, and pharmacists better watch you backs...
Denzel Washington is a stand up guy:
Washington had offered to help present Purple Heart medals Friday to Spinks and two other soldiers wounded in Iraq.
Hospital officials said the idea of a San Antonio visit was first suggested to him by an unidentified veteran known as "Ranger Jones," who met the actor during the 1988 filming of "Glory."
Washington told about 300 patients, soldiers and hospital staff members at the medal ceremony that he felt honored to recognize "such brave men and women." Besides pinning medals on the three soldiers, he also visited about 20 other patients Friday.
"As is often the case, when you think you're coming to give something, you end up receiving so much more," he said.
With his wife and four of his children nearby, he drew a roar of applause when he pledged support of America's military.
"I guess you read a lot about quote-unquote 'celebrities' being anti-war, and anti-this, or whatever they anti-," he said. "But you know this particular celebrity supports you 100 percent."
Also in attendance were two Medal of Honor recipients from the Vietnam War, retired Col. Robert W. Howard and Maj. Alfred Rascon. Both got standing ovations.
Elsewhere here's one former Saddam loyalist looking to start a singing career.
Harrison Ford will star in an upcoming movie about Fallujah.
Tim Blair reminds us of a recent Ford quote on Iraq.
Eric at Dagger Jag has been working issues with the Iraqi elections. In one of his posts on that topic he also introduces something you likely haven't heard of:
Today we conducted another detainee release mission. I've wrote about one way back during the summer but things have changed a bit since then. We still conduct the release missions every week or two. The detainees come up from Abu Ghraib on busses or trucks and we meet them in Tikrit and escort the busses to a smaller village outside of Tikrit. There, they are released at a "halfway house" of sorts.
The Iraqis running this program wanted to establish a way to reintegrate the detainees into Iraqi society and try to educate them and encourage them to help work for the future of Iraq. The detainees receive new clothes and are checked out by an Iraqi doctor. Then they are fed and picked up by their host families. A number of local families in the town have agreed to house the released detainees and help them reintegrate into Iraqi society. The town has been very peaceful throughout the whole time we've been here and, because of that, they have reaped a lot of benefits. Some of that might be a quid pro quo but I much of it is because contractors can work safely there and we are willing to help them with their needs. The families show the former detainees what can happen to an area that is peaceful.
For three days the released detainees attend classes at the "halfway house." They receive classes on how to use a computer and the internet (something that might or might not be useful to them) but most of the classes are on Iraqi history, religion, and politics. The goal is to motivate these men to take charge and work for the good of THEIR country. It really is an amazing program and, by all accounts, successful as well. Many of the detainees go back to their homes afterwards and keep in touch with the director. Some have even come back and helped out with later classes. It has been the most encouraging thing for me especially since all of this was done without our prompting or funding. The director is a remarkable man who developed the program and is paying for it with his own funds and with donations from other Iraqis. He has told me, and I agree, that the program is much more successful because they are not associated with the US military. They are Iraqis taking care of other Iraqis.
He's got more on the halfway house here.
The director shared another anecdote with me about a released detainee who explained to the group how before he was detained, he thought all Americans were like Saddam Hussein's goons; cruel monsters who used their power to do whatever they wanted and killed anyone who got in the way. He said that when he was detained he was treated well and actually made friends with some of the prison guards. He said he had completely changed his mind about the Americans and wanted to tell everyone he used to hang out with not to attack the Americans anymore. Now I don't know how much of this is true but it does sound like the program is doing some good.
And more on the upcoming elections here.
Any one in the military can relate to this one:
A Military Christmas
Dad was in the Navy, during Christmas we were seldom back home.
We spent our holidays in different states, sometimes rather alone.
We spent Christmas over seas in a number of foreign lands.
Christmas was never conducted according to a civilian plan.
No going over to Grandma's house, to eat a Christmas meal.
In 20 years we got there twice, that was a major deal.
We would drive a thousand miles, to be there Christmas Eve.
Days later it was time to go, dad was out of military leave.
We would drive all night to get back, to the Naval base.
This ended yet another, cross-country Christmas race.
Finish our favorite holiday food, crackers with cheese dip,
Dad would drive out to the pier, to sign back-in to the ship.
We all loved going onboard ship for a holiday meal.
My sisters ate all the shrimp that they could peel.
I would talk to the mess-cooks standing in the chow line.
Dependent meals on shipboard were always a magical time.
During my Air Force career I got home for Christmas only a time or two,
But my Air Force spouse made a holiday of white, not of Elvis blue.
Christmas dinner was with our GI friends, who could not get "home,"
Sometimes over twenty, no one was left alone.
G.I. s and sailors are your family when stationed far from home.
In my day no e-mail and in most cases you couldn't even phone.
Christmas cards went early, because of the long homeward flight.
Anyone's holiday mail was a G.I. shared delight.
Cards, pictures and cookies enjoyed with a Marine cohort.
Moments later defending the line; Christmas can be rather short.
War doesn't stop for the troops because of a national holiday.
Even on the 25th someone is earning their combat pay.
I am an old retiree sitting back in my rocking chair.
But my wife is still active duty performing the mission out there.
We are always on the move, from air base to air base,
In my old age, this military stuff, keeps picking up the pace.
We're at a comfortable "state-side" base this winter holiday.
Somewhere a troop is earning, Christmas hazardous-duty pay.
Please take care of "your" sailor, marine or G.I. this holiday season.
To appreciate your troops never needs a reason.
We are at an Air Force base, out west this Christmas year.
No grandparents, no siblings, not even my in-laws are here.
It's another military holiday and we are far from "home."
But I have my wife, my daughter and the dogs--we are not alone.
We choose to be in a military, that on holidays takes us far and wide.
But we serve our nation, maybe even with a little selfish pride.
We are doing something right for this wonderful homeland.
She is a military woman and I am a military man.
Enjoy this holiday season, remember who keeps you safe at home.
Think of the Sailor, Marine or G.I. out there feeling quite alone.
They choose to be there, even on Christmas night.
Support your troops, what they do for this country, is indeed right.
Thanks to veterans who have done military Christmas in the past.
The new troops continue the tradition, to make our freedom last.
Sleep well this Christmas Eve, at home in your warm bed.
To our military, defending the nation, full speed ahead.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
20 December 2003
A reader writes:
As a loyal reader, may I submit a special request? I'd be interested to know your thoughts (as someone "on the ground") about this article in the Christian Science Monitor. I have to admit, it has me a little worried.
So, The Christian Science Monitor has departed from its usual mission of monitoring Christian Scientists to present us with a front page piece on the shambles that is the American Military today. Since it's a recitation of so many of the themes popular with the anti-military crowd in the media these days it's worth the effort to address them all in one place. Having read that story I do have a few minor issues with it.
Issue 1 - It's a page 1 story. Actually that's only a problem if it's an opinion vice news piece. Is it? That's to be determined.
Issue 2 - the author, Brad Knickerbocker. We'll not refute any of Brad's claims based on who he is, nor will we question his objectivity, but the reader deserves to know his background before making any judgments, don't you think?
Brad has covered the war extensively for Christian Science Monitor. Here, for example is a recent piece attempting to calculate the possible number of civilian casualties in Iraq. The link is actually to a reprint of the work found at CounterCurrents.org, a site with sections on Iraq, Palestine, climate change, globalisation, US imperialism, etc., etc., etc. Along with Knickerbocker reprints they also feature Fidel Castro diatribes for your enlightenment.
In fact, reprints of Brad's stories are a favorite at "anti-war" sites; here's a list of those you can find via the Why War? web site, which prominently features this (non-Knickerbocker) quote on their front page:
Al-Qa’ida is neither irrational nor unable to intelligently articulate their objectives. The American government is able to disseminate propaganda globally while suppressing al-Qa’ida’s response. Thus, the English speaking world is forced to trust the analysis of al-Qa’ida provided by those who have shown themselves willing to lie in their pursuit of an unjust war. If the American public had been able to read al-Qa'ida documents they would have known that al-Qa’ida was explicit about their joy in America’s overthrow of Saddam Husayn.
They also offer a line of anti-war bumperstickers that would look perfect on any color Toyota Prius.
Certainly the fact that he's a favorite author of these sorts doesn't imply that he endorses their opinions; the inverse, however, is apparently true.
He's not just an anti-war guy though, he also did a few scare pieces. Here's a round-up his articles on the imminent chemical, biological and nuclear threat faced by the US in 2002. (Those halcyon days when 'anti-war' didn't "sell") As with the other sites we'll assume Brad has no idea his work is reproduced there - but we'll all certainly appreciate that as a result of the courageous reporting of the Brad Knockerbockers of America the threat has yet to materialize.
Enough of the past! Brad's latest piece breaks new ground, combining his "anti-war" attitude with his "scare" tactic to create a powerful hole. The first couple of paragraphs are not an issue (in fact, since I'm wearing combat boots and can't count beyond ten, I'll dispense with numbering the issues), they are just an introduction, establishing his command of the topic and presenting unsupported claims we assume the remainder of the story is designed to prove.
Without further ado, here's Brad:
Griping among the troops is as old as armed conflict, illustrated most memorably by cartoonist Bill Mauldin's "Willie and Joe" characters during World War II. But something more than that is happening now in Iraq with what appears to be growing resistance from the troops.
Evidence includes numbers of deserters (reportedly in the thousands), resignations of reserve officers, lawsuits by those whose duty period has been involuntarily extended, and a refusal to go on dangerous missions without proper equipment. There's also been a willingness at grunt level to publicly challenge the Pentagon - as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld found out recently in a trip to the war zone, where he got an earful about unarmored humvees.
For the record, I'm not personally aware of any war-related desertions. (I do know of a couple - Jeremy Hinzman and Pablo Paredes - due to the extensive press coverage they've received, and I'm sure there are others.) My personal experience is limited though, I'm only personally involved with just under a thousand GI's. Hmmm... I guess my experience does exceed that of Brad Knickerbocker, but that says nothing as to his right to offer his opinion. Let's move on.
While some don't see much defiance - and, in fact, have been surprised by the depth of solidarity - others see an unusual amount of tension surfacing for an all-volunteer military force.
"Some" and "others" - irrefutable, ironclad! In an effort to render my personal bias transparent, I admit freely I'm amongst "some", though I don't deny the existence of "others". I've seen this phenomenon with my own eyes - some soldiers enjoy food in the DFAC, others prefer MRE's. Likewise, while some people trust reporters, others do not. I'll spare you the endless litany of constructions regarding "some and others". Some of you will appreciate that, others will not. It would be nice if journalists were trained at schools that discouraged use of such statements, as everyone will agree.
Enough of that. If you're like me, the burning question you're asking right now is "What is driving the resistance?"
"What is driving the resistance is the same thing that drove it during Vietnam - a lack of trust in the civilian leadership and a sense that the uniformed leaders are not standing up for the forces," says retired Army Col. Dan Smith, a military analyst with the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington. Colonel Smith doesn't expect the kind of "fragging" incidents that occurred in Vietnam where soldiers attacked their own officers. "This force is too professional," he says. "But the lack of trust and the inequity of the tours will very likely be reflected in the numbers of Guard and reservists who vote no-confidence with their feet."
Were I the suspicious sort, I'd highlight that Vietnam quote above. James Taranto isn't suspicious either, he identifies Brad as a "Vietnam nostalgist". That sounds right to me.
I am suspicious when I see organizations named and not explained. Just what is "The Friends Committee on National Legislation"? We'll assume that Brad answered that question but the explanation was edited out for space in the final edition.
I have no problem with space. "The Friends Committee on National Legislation" a Quaker group - which is fine by me - the Quakers are a religious group dedicated to peace and justice for all mankind and they were anti-war when anti-war wasn't cool (1862, for instance). Dan Smith is listed on their site as a Senior Fellow, Military and Peaceful Prevention Policy.
Their cause is indeed noble, but failing to mention the agenda of the quoted expert would cause some to question the agenda of the author and publishers of the story. I wouldn't, of course, since this is a page one article it's obviously not an opinion piece.
But defining the speaker doesn't address the claims - but as those claims are as yet unsupported we can't refute them. "Soldiers are discontented" you say. I reply "No" - and there you have it.
But here comes the support:
That already appears to be happening. The Army National Guard is short 5,000 new citizen-soldiers.
"Although generally successful in overall mission numbers, we continue to experience difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified individuals in certain critical wartime specialties," Army Reserve chief Lt. Gen. James Helmly told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year.
The Guard is short, and here's some reasons why: Many traditional Guard/Reserve accessions are people leaving Active Duty who want to continue their service. As the vast majority of military folks are personally committed to the war on terror, fewer are leaving Active Duty. Also, given that the Guard/Reserve are now being used for the purpose for which they were intended over the past several years (extended active duty in time of war) many people are opting to join the Active Duty force instead of the Reserves. In short - many Americans are only now discovering that the Guard and Reserves are a key component of the military. That said, please note that retention (keeping those folks in who are in) is high in the Guard/Reserve forces, an exception being those folks who are returning to Active Duty from their ranks, a number of whom are officers (more on that in a minute.)
And yes, others who would have joined "for educational benefits" are staying away because of the war. This can hardly be considered a reason to excuse the Guard and Reserve from their role in national defense; keeping those wrongly-motivated folks out is not completely undesirable, I assure you.
Not mentioned is the inconvenient fact that all Active Duty components met or exceeded their recruiting and retention goals this past year.
But declining enlistments is to desertions what apples are to oranges. To bicycles even.
The number of officers wanting to resign from the Army Reserve has jumped as well. And according to a recent report on CBS's "60 Minutes," the Defense Department acknowledges that more than 5,500 service personnel have deserted since the Iraq war began.
The 'officers' bit is unsupported, so I simply say it's not so. So there! Better yet, let's re-state that a good number of officers do want to leave the reserve component and return to Active Duty. Given that I'm currently stationed with a significant number of such, I believe it to be true. No way of knowing exactly what Brad is referring to here, and if they are the officers to which he refers. He simply tosses the statement out there, then without breaking paragraph turns to the deserters.
On that topic, 60 Minutes says there have been over 5,500 desertions since the Iraq war began. As most bloggers will readily tell you: if 60 Minutes says it, it must be so. (/sarc) Many bloggers often note the extensive number of minutes it takes to research and refute a 60 Minutes claim (ironically usually less than 60). Seriously, having been called on the carpet for an egregious number of fabricated and misleading stories this year they certainly must have initiated some sort of fact checking process by now. Sadly, Bradley doesn't present their evidence, just their claim.
If he was a real investigative reporter, he'd cite experts to support his claims.
While the complaints and the resistance to following some military policies may pattern earlier conflicts, the fighting in Iraq has a unique context, experts say.
Well, that shuts me up - there's no way I can refute any unnamed unique-context-of-fighting-in-Iraq experts. So I will agree with them: it is indeed unique.
A laundry list follows; it essentially describes your American military in time of war - and notes that we haven't been at war for some time.
It's the first large-scale 21st-century conflict against an aggressive insurgency, causing thousands of US casualties; the first war in more than a generation in which homeland security and the threat of domestic terror attack seem so real; the first "semi-draft," with the Guard/reserve component approaching 50 percent of combat and combat support troops (and already taking more casualties than they did in Vietnam); and it's the first time in many years that soldiers have been ordered to serve beyond their commitments.
One by one:
It's the first large-scale 21st-century conflict against an aggressive insurgency causing thousands of US casualties;... check. Even with google I can't find a previous conflict in this century against an aggressive insurgency causing thousands of US casualties - in this millennia even!
the first war in more than a generation in which homeland security and the threat of domestic terror attack seem so real; okay. Fair enough. I don't even think that "in more than a generation" qualifier is required.
the first "semi-draft," with the Guard/reserve component approaching 50 percent of combat and combat support troops - Here's the technique: Obvious fact, obvious fact, lie! If the first two were true then certainly it follows that the third is also? No, it's not a "semi-draft", it's using the post-Vietnam all-volunteer military as it was designed to be used.
(and already taking more casualties than they did in Vietnam); yes, true because post-Vietnam restructuring occurred after Vietnam. A lie sandwiched by truth and half truth.
and it's the first time in many years that soldiers have been ordered to serve beyond their commitments - true, as long as we note that stop loss was initiated immediately after 911, and was not invented for the Iraq war - a distinction Brad fails to make. It has been on again/off again since then, as military needs dictated.
Legal challenges to military authority appear to be increasing as well, with more use of civilian attorneys than was seen in Vietnam. "It's very much in evidence," says Eugene Fidell, a former military lawyer who heads the National Institute of Military Justice. Mr. Fidell just finished teaching the first course on military issues at Harvard Law School since 1970.
Of course they are increasing from peace time rates - because there are increased (though invalid) reasons for some to defy the military, and because there are organizations designed to find and encourage such actions, and a guarantee of media sympathy right up to the moment the cell doors slam. (See the Abu Ghraib gang, for example.) "...more use of civilian attorneys than was seen in Vietnam" seems a rather pale excuse to mention Vietnam once again. Ambulance chasers are a fact of life, and one could as well decry the increase in personal injury law suits from 1972 to now.
All this is happening in an age when CNN brings live war coverage to the trenches and barracks, when troops are more aware of the successes and debacles on the battlefield than ever before. At the same time, reporters embedded with combat units, as well as e-mail and Internet access, make it easier for families and others back home to be heard by the soldiers - and for the soldiers to complain to them. This is especially true, perhaps, of citizen-soldiers, who are not only older than the average GI but more used to speaking out.
Then why aren't they? Note there's no claim here that they are, just a statement that it's easier for them to do so. Why aren't they? Fear of reprisal? Can't be - their lawyers are eagerly waiting. Instead what you get with the internet are GI's eager to point out the fallacies in 'news' stories like this one.
The next bit is a rehash of the Guard/Reserve issue addressed before, followed by a bit of shoehorning:
Since the fighting began in Iraq, the number of Guard and reserve troops on active duty has more than doubled. Critics say this is an indication that US forces are stretched too thin. One such critic is Senator John McCain (R) of Arizona, a supporter of the war who declared this week that he had "no confidence" in Secretary Rumsfeld.
That quote must have come late in the writing of this piece, and Brad crammed it in where he could. Has no point in this piece.
AS we approach the end of the effort our intrepid reporter begins qualifying his inflammatory comments, but makes them none the less:
At this point, much of the data is scattered and anecdotal, like the doubling of desertions at the Army's Fort Bragg in North Carolina last year to about 200. It may be too early to draw exact comparisons with earlier wars, experts agree.
But they also note a growing trend for GIs to speak out and to find leverage points to protect their interests - including personal safety. "I am amazed that it is not greater," says retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner. "The war continues to go badly. Their equipment is in bad shape. Supply problems continue. Tours are extended. Many are on a second or third deployment to a combat zone. I would expect a louder voice."
Seems the quote refutes the point of the whole piece, though it does get a named source saying bad bad bad one wonders if the Colonel wasn't being enigmatic, and pointing out the opposite is the truth. Given that it's a quote out of context the point can't be determined with any certainty. But if things were so awful, there would indeed be a louder voice. I'd present this as strong evidence against the entire story.
A key issue for war planners is whether any of this adversely effects individual morale and unit performance. That remains an open question, particularly as the war goes on and its original rationale (weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda) fades.
Since the hints and allegations presented thus far are unsupported and in fact untrue, it would be hard indeed to determine their impacts on operations. It remains an 'open question' only if the question were based on reality.
"Soldiers always gripe, and often with good reason," says Loren Thompson, head of security studies at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va. "But I don't see much evidence that the enemy in Iraq is eroding the will of US forces to fight. As long as US forces are well led, the gripes aren't likely to lead to more serious problems."
A statement of balance; no surprise finding it so close to the bottom of the piece. I'd expect the next paragraph to refute it. It does.
Others aren't so sure.
"When you are risking your life on the battlefield, the importance of knowing why you are doing so cannot be underestimated," says Ivan Eland, national security analyst at the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. "If soldiers don't know why they are fighting there or believe they've been hoodwinked, we may see the same phenomenon happen in Iraq as occurred in Vietnam."
My mistake, it doesn't refute at all, in spite of the "others aren't so sure" introduction. In fact, this reinforces the statement of the previous paragraph. If soldiers weren't sure of their purpose, they would indeed take steps to right the wrongs done them - in a very forthright and professional manner. Few would behave like the unprofessional cowards Bradley Knickerbocker implies. That some few have is as unsurprising as his closing with his fourth evocation of Vietnam.
From the Orlando Sentinal, a story headlined American Spirit Takes Root In Iraq:
'Tis the season, and Americans deserve some holiday cheer. Herewith some of the good things happening in Iraq, beginning with Omar and Mohammed.
Regular travelers of the blogosphere, that rare and wonderful new universe where bloggers post news, commentary and other ruminations on the Web, may be familiar with the names Omar and Mohammed.
They, too, are bloggers. In Iraq with brother Ali, they created a blog called Iraq The Model, through which they've kept the blogosphere abreast of events from their native, on-the-ground perspective.
Last week, Omar, 24, and Mohammed, 35, both dentists, came to the United States to meet their American blogging counterparts and to shake hands with someone they hold in high esteem -- President George W. Bush. They wanted to thank him.
The two Iraqi brothers, who are Sunni, came to the United States under the sponsorship of Spirit of America, a nonprofit organization founded by technology entrepreneur Jim Hake that helps Americans serving abroad improve the lives of others.
We'll assume they think that means the same thing.
Meanwhile, Jim Hake emails:
Our Blogger Challenge ended at midnight on Wednesday. Nearly 200 bloggers joined the effort and, as I type, raised $90,247. Incredible!!! There was a great flurry of activity in the final hours and, in amazing come-from-behind effort, Iraq the Model, jumped into the lead. Iraq the Model has raised $17,140 . The leading team is the Northern Alliance of Blogs. The Alliance has raised $12,135. Thanks to the bloggers we now have more than 11,000 contributors. A 10% increase in 2 weeks.
We are still accepting checks and will have a final total and rankings next week. Thank you to all the bloggers that participated. It is an enormous contribution. Woooohoooooo!! We even had two foreign teams (that I know of) - from Canada and Spain. Please click here to see all the bloggers that joined the effort and thank them, too:
Last Thursday, I met with President Bush for 1/2 hour in the Oval Office along with SoA's Kerry Dupont, Omar and Mohammed from Iraq the Model and Friends of Democracy. The meeting came as a surprise. We received a call in our taxi while we were headed back to our hotel asking if we could be at the White House in 25 minutes. I'm told those close to the President thought it would be good for him to hear from "ordinary" Iraqis and to hear about Spirit of America. Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secy of Defense, and a staff member from the National Security Council were also there.
I found the President to be focused, interested, intelligent and committed. He also has a good sense of humor, which he employed liberally. Let me assure you, Spirit is not, and never will be, a political or policy organization. We view the work we are doing as something that people of every political persuasion should support. We're not going to blow it by playing politics. Nonetheless, we have one President. He is the Commander in Chief of the servicemen and women we are helping in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should want his support and now I'm glad we now have it.
The first part of the meeting focused on Omar and Mohammed's views of Iraq. Then we talked about Spirit of America. After hearing about what we are doing, the President turned to Omar and Mohammed and said, "You see gentlemen, that is the beauty of America. I never met this man before but he's out there helping to win this war on terror just as much as 'Wolfie' here." I would have expected President Bush to have kind words for what we are doing. I wasn't sure if he would see the strategic importance of what we are doing but I'm very happy he does. He went on to talk about the importance of private-sector, grass roots activities - people helping people, saying "that's what I believe in." Of course, that's what Spirit of America is about.
For you dog lovers, as we left, we met Barney - the President's dog - and learned that Barney is getting a sister named Beasley.
GENERAL TOMMY FRANKS
Unlike the serendipitous meeting with Pres. Bush, the meeting with Tommy Franks had been in the works for a while. I'm happy to say that he also understands the value of what we're doing. This is best relayed by paraphrasing what he said. Gen Franks makes an important distinction between terrorists and terrorism. He said the military can deal with terrorists pretty well with a 9mm bullet. But terrorism was a whole different, more complex thing. He said he thought that Spirit of America and the America people had a better opportunity to deal with/reduce/defeat (I forget the exact word) terrorism than the U.S. Government bureaucracy. Of course, the commitment of the U.S. Government is essential. His point, I believe, was to highlight the importance of the American people and the particular approach of Spirit of America.
I hope General Franks will be able to be involved in some of our activities moving forward. Either way, we have a great new friend.
Here in Mudville it was Mrs G who led the charge, and though we joined rather late in the effort I'm amazed and grateful to the readers who contributed. Thanks to you all! If you requested pogs and Dinar, they'll get to you. The Mrs has her work cut out for her, and holiday mail being what it is (from around the world, no less), your patience is appreciated.
On a cold snowy night back in 86
I saw a young man standing by some bricks
I watched out my window as the snow drifted down
I could see his breath in this cold little town
He was walking back and forth with his gun by one arm
at first I was nervous but he meant me no harm
He stood there and stood there freezing I know
just standing a pacing there in the snow
Then out of nowhere a tear fell from my eye
just knowing he would protect me even if he had to die
I gathered my self up and went to my Dad
it was 2 in the morning but he was not mad
I went to the Kitchen and made some warm tea
walked down the cold stairs "to you, from me"
He put out his hand and put it on my head
then he whispered to me "all is safe, go on to bed"
with a lump in my throat a tear in my eye
I went back upstairs but did not cry
I went back to the window and took a peek out
he looked up and saw me his smile came out
He stood at attention saluted me, he did
I saluted him back and let out a grin
By Adam J
Adam says: (I was 11 years old and My Father was stationed in Germany that was right after we Bombed Libya.)
It was my reading of that quote at your site so many times that inspired me to write something about it. It is a wonderful bit of wisdom, and combined with this quote of Haile Selassie's, is a rather effective way of making critics of the war ponder their position, if but for a moment, until their fuzzy logic takes hold again.
"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph."
Charles at Global Spec Ops brought this bit of wisdom to my attention.
"Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
George Orwell (with a nod to the Mudville Gazette)Rough men
There's a character trait that's decided by fate
Comes (sadly) to many, far too faint, far too late.
They won't face the aggressor, stand up to his ire
They have not the will to fight his fire with fire.
So they bend over backwards to see all sides as fair,
Till they're faced with dragon breath fire in their hair.
Like our brethren in France, who'd know better than we,
Yet seem never to learn, seem doomed never to see.
Yes, it seems there are some who're determined by fate,
To possess not the courage to step up to the plate,
Who shrink from all threat because nothing's worth war.
But how can they know lest they've been there before?
Thank God some have courage, the will, yes, the grace,
To stand for the shirkers, stand strong in their place.
Thank God we have stalwarts who'll stand for us all,
Who will rise to the challenge at their nation's call.
The faint-hearted, who fear, whose reaction is flight,
Have no comprehension of those who will fight.
To hide their own trepidation they attempt to demean
The rough men, who defend them, as barbaric, obscene.
Yet these rough men stand ready, hard weapons to hand,
To put placaters behind them, draw a line in the sand,
To preserve for the peaceniks what they won't defend,
So their own unearned freedom won't perish, won't end.
To appeasers, rough men are coarse government tools.
To rough men, appeasers are dumb delusional fools.
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Thank You Russ
Russ Vaughn is the Poet Laureate of The American Thinker
UPDATE: It seems there is a debate on where this quote originated. Now by all means, I'm no scholar but I can google and this is my conclusion.
It may be a merger of the statment made in Orwell's essay on Rudyard Kipling (1942) ["He (Kipling) sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them."] and the definition of a pacifist from Orwell's "Notes on Nationalism" (1945) [PACIFIST: Those who 'abjure' violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.]
Now who do we attribute this quote to? I say both. No one knows who created the exact quote that Greyhawk uses. Neither Orwell or Kipling said those exact words in any of their writings and we may never know who did, so let's close the matter with what we do know. These two were brilliant men and the quote was obviously derived from these writings.
And to the commenter who says on his site, Still, (mostly) warmongerers have been repeating this made-up phrase without question for a long time, and now with the "Good" attached - which in my opinion significantly alters the meaning of the quote which implies that the "good people" consent. Plenty of good people do not consent to most war.
To this I say yes, you right, "Good" shouldn't be added because bad people also sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. And the word "Good" added doesn't show consent by good people, it's just an undeniable fact, and for your information all quotes are made up, that's how they come into existance. Now "Shoo Fly don't bother me". -Thomas Brigham Bishop (sang by Kitty Wells)
maybe Greyhawk should add this quote to his header:
"Take my word for it, the silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool. - Rudyard Kipling"
-- Mrs Greyhawk
By the way that's why I never attributed the quote - its source is unknown. A lot of people credit me with it now, but that was never my intention. (Well, I did add the bit about the reader forgiving rough language or behavior.)
ALJazeera says thousands of Iraqi's will be disenfranchised in the upcoming elections. Who are these thousands they champion?
Tens, and may be hundreds of thousands, of Iraqi voters will most likely be unable to cast their ballots in the general elections slated for January 30, 2005, either for being homeless or detained by the U.S.-led forces.
Over 300.000 Iraqis, mostly Sunnis, have been forced to leave their homes in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, due to the continuous shelling that climaxed in a blistering air and ground sweep by US and Iraqi forces in November.
Are we to assume that they would have been voting without that blistering sweep? That the 'insurgents' would have participated in the democratic process?
Speaking of insurgents...
There are also tens of thousands of detainees, majority of which are also Sunnis, who are not subject to the Independent Election Commission in Iraq (IECI).
What a shame it would be if their voices weren't heard, their opinions unknown.
It is good to hear a new voice raised championing democracy though - we'll certainly look forward to Al Jazeera's reports on the upcoming Saudi elections too, with a special focus on women's suffrage issues there.
Christmas before Sept. 11th vs. Christmas after Sept. 11th
This Christmas is different
Last Christmas we were thinking about all the things we didn't have.
This Christmas we are thinking about all the things we do have.
Last Christmas we were placing wreaths on the doors of our homes.
This Christmas we are placing wreaths on the graves of our heros.
Last Christmas we were letting our sons play with toy guns.
This Christmas we are teaching them that guns are not toys.
Last Christmas we were counting our money.
This Christmas we are counting our blessings.
Last Christmas we were lighting candles to decorate.
This Christmas we are lighting candles to commemorate.
Last Christmas we paid lip service to the real meaning of the holidays.
This Christmas we are paying homage to it.
Last Christmas we were digging deep into our bank accounts to find money to fly home for the holidays.
This Christmas we are digging deep into our souls to find the courage to do so.
Last Christmas we were trying not to let annoying relatives get the best of us.
This Christmas we are trying to give the best of ourselves to them.
Last Christmas we thought it was enough to celebrate the holidays.
This Christmas we know we must also find ways to consecrate them.
Last Christmas we thought a man who could rush down a football field was a hero.
This Christmas we know a man who rushes into a burning building is the real one.
Last Christmas we were thinking about the madness of the holidays.
This Christmas we are thinking about the meaning of them.
Last Christmas we were getting on one another's nerves.
This Christmas we are getting on our knees.
Last Christmas we were giving thanks for gifts from stores.
This Christmas we are giving thanks for gifts from GOD.
Last Christmas we were wondering how to give our children all the things that money can buy.
This Christmas we are wondering how to give them all the things money can't... like peace and security.
Last Christmas we were thinking about all the pressure we were under at the office.
This Christmas we are thinking about all the people who no longer have an office.
Last Christmas we were singing carols.
This Christmas we are singing anthems.
Last Christmas we were thinking how good it would feel to be affluent.
This Christmas we are thinking how good it feels to be alive.
Last Christmas we thought angels were in heaven.
This Christmas we know they are right here on earth.
Last Christmas we were contemplating all the changes we wanted to make in the new year.
This Christmas we are contemplating all the changes we will have to make in this new reality.
Last Christmas we believed in the power of the pocketbook.
This Christmas we believe in the power of prayer.
Last Christmas we were sharing/spreading/listening to gossip.
This Christmas we are sharing/spreading/listening to the Gospel.
Last Christmas we were complaining about how much of our earnings went to taxes.
This Christmas we comprehend that freedom isn't free.
Last Christmas we valued things that were costly.
This Christmas we value things that are holy.
Last Christmas the people we idolized wore sports uniforms.
This Christmas the people we idolize wear police, firefighter and military uniforms.
Last Christmas peace on earth was something we prayed for on Sunday morning.
This Christmas it's something we pray for every day.
Austin Bay has been here, done that, as we say in the business.
But to this I say maybe...
Draw another circle around Jan. 30. That's Iraq's first election day. Underline the two weeks prior to Jan. 30. That will be a savage fortnight in which terror campaigns and political campaigns collide. Democratic candidates will be assassinated and polling stations will be blown to bits, as Saddamite and Al Qaeda reactionaries -- the Middle East's ancien regime of tyrant and terrorist -- attempt to force an oppressed people to submit one more time to the yoke of fear.
Something will certainly go boom, of that I'm sure. Stay tuned.
That's not the key point of his piece, by the way. Go read, you'll see. It will be the only storyline elsewhere, of that I also have no doubt.
I'm moving this post up for those that may have missed it.
Have you donated to the SoA Blogger challenge? Here's the sort of things you're helping to make happen.
Iraq the Model bloggers Omar and Mohamed are touring America along with SoA founder Jim Hake (MilBlogger Grim got a coveted invite to one event!) demonstrating the new Arabic language blogging tool called Viral Freedom:
Every blog developed using the Arabic blogging tool will include space that is under the control of organizations that we work with, such as Friends of Democracy. This space or “real estate” will be a portion of the blog header (top of the page) and the left column. The organizations will use the space to promote groups, individuals and news that, in the big picture, advance freedom, democracy and peace in the region. Thus, everyone that creates a blog will be promoting moderate and progressive information and viewpoints in the Arab world. Friends of Democracy will use the space to publicize pro-democracy groups, election information and related news. The blogs created under Friends of Democracy will be ambassadors of democracy in the Arab world.
Friends of Democracy
The first group of blogs will be under Friends of Democracy. It will focus on Iraq but anyone, and any group, anywhere that wants to be a “friend of democracy” will be able to create and maintain a Friends of Democracy blog in Arabic at no cost. Friends of Democracy will establish and enforce policies regarding blog use and blog content.
If enough funds are raised, we will seek other moderate organizations to oversee blogs in other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Syria. We will also fund the development of the blogging tool in Farsi so it may be used in Iran and in Kurdish.
Contributions through Mudville thus far are enough to fund hosting of
50 blogs 100 Blogs(!!!) for one year in this effort (Note: contributions are to SoA to use as they see fit - will go where the need is greatest.)
"Viral Freedom" makes Mrs. G's choice of link banner quite appropriate, don't you think?
Witness the growing influence of blogs; Omar and Mohamed have already met the President of the United States - and soon they'll be hosted by none other than Roger L Simon! (The reader can insert their own witticism here.)
In honor of the whole series of events, I've decided to up the ante: all who donate 20 dollars or more via Mudville (click banner above) will receive not just pogs but 10,000 (Saddam era) Iraqi Dinar. See additional details here. (And yes, those who've already asked shall receive this too. Act now - offer good only while supplies last.)
It is a sad day to hear that Sgt Hook will be hanging up his boots and retiring from Blogging. Although he will sorely be missed, Greyhawk and I understand completely, Hooks position on this.
Farewell sir, but please keep in touch via e-mail.
(Hey, I warned you about that rough language.)
I'll be posting various Military Christmas poems found on the internet during the next couple weeks.
here's one to start.
The Sands of Christmas
I had no Christmas spirit when I breathed a weary sigh,
and looked across the table where the bills were piled too high.
The laundry wasn’t finished and the car I had to fix,
My stocks were down another point, the Dolphins lost by six.
And so with only minutes till my son got home from school
I gave up on the drudgery and grabbed a wooden stool.
The burdens that I carried were about all I could take,
and so I flipped the TV on to catch a little break.
I came upon a desert scene in shades of tan and rust,
No snowflakes hung upon the wind, just clouds of swirling dust.
And where the reindeer should have stood before a laden sleigh,
eight hummers ran a column right behind an M1A.
A group of boys walked past the tank, not one was past his teens,
Their eyes were hard as polished flint, their faces drawn and lean.
They walked the street in armor with their rifles shouldered tight,
their dearest wish for Christmas, just to have a silent night.
Other soldiers gathered, hunkered down against the wind,
To share a scrap of mail and dreams of going home again.
There wasn’t much at all to put their lonely hearts at ease,
They had no Christmas turkey, just a pack of MREs.
They didn't have a garland or a stocking I could see,
They didn't need an ornament-- they lacked a Christmas Tree.
They didn’t have a present even though it was tradition,
the only boxes I could see were labled "ammunition".
I felt a little tug and found my son now by my side,
He asked me what it was I feared, and why it was I cried.
I swept him up into my arms and held him oh so near
and kissed him on the forehead as I whispered in his ear.
There’s nothing wrong my little son, for safe we sleep tonight,
our heroes stand on foreign land to give us all the right,
to worry on the things in life that mean nothing at all,
instead of wondering if we will be the next to fall.
He looked at me as children do and said its always right,
to thank the ones who help us and perhaps that we should write.
And so we pushed aside the bills and sat to draft a note,
to thank the many far from home, and this is what we wrote,
God bless you all and keep you safe, and speed your way back home.
Remember that we love you so, and that you’re not alone.
The gift you give you share with all, a present every day,
You give the gift of liberty and that we can’t repay.
by Michael Marks
© December 2003
Seems Bill thinks like me and has same poem also.
Sometimes I get the feeling some folks forget that the military blogger isn't just spouting their opinion from mom's basement. Here's a must read from Smash. Just go.
Omar, in Iraq the Model:
Arthur Chrenkoff has another round up of good news from Afghanistan. I can't stop feeling amazed whenever I see the enormous effort Arthur puts in his blog trying to show some of the untold news about Iraq and Afghanistan, and I keep wondering, "On who's payroll is he?! Poor "anti-war" bloggers, who toil just for the sake of truth living only on wine and french bread.
First: appreciate the subtlety of Omar's wry humor, that's satire worthy of Swift from a man from a culture most likely far from yours for whom English is a second language. Your reading of such a thing from such a source would have been impossible a few short months ago when neither the technology nor the freedom were available to him.
Then ponder this: An American GI in Iraq just linked to and commented about an Iraqi citizen, who was linking and commenting on a post from an ex-pat from Poland now living in Australia and providing information to the world on the situation in Afghanistan.
What does it all mean? That's entirely up to you.
Dismiss such things as trivial if you wish, but most who read these words likely already understand the enormous potential of blogs. Others see all this as evil, but then many of our ancient ancestors were likely anti-fire. More recently there were those who opposed Gutenberg's light in the darkness.
Here, let me fuel the fire, for clearly the this day the Knights Templar ride:
For good measure, here's international-man-of-mystery Wretchard.
Extreme heat? No - just a nice warm glow.
Everything you need to know about the situation here in Iraq today, in thirty words or less.
Who doesn't love pictures?
Update: Click on Dec 14 on calendar in upper left at link
?would be served if this man died of starvation
Other methods would be also be okay with me though.
And for a trip down memory lane, Mudville, this time last year. This blog was the first to post the news.
Time flies whether you're having fun or not.
Sarah with a letter from a GI on the Armor issue - he makes another point we're all well aware of, but that I haven't heard used in this discussion yet. (And you'll probably not hear it anywhere else. There's only a few with the 'license' to say it.)
Rebel Rouser has some interesting pics of the HMMWVs being used in Iraq, along with the latest and greatest.
Zev Chafets in the NY Daily News says Thomas Wilson, the Soldier who asked the armor question of Secretary Rumsfeld, should get a Silver Star. His 'heroics' aren't quite to that level, but the statement reminds me of this old joke:
The Chiefs of Staff are bragging about the relative courage of the members of their respective services. To settle the ensuing argument, they make a bet on who commands the bravest troops. One by one they call low ranking GI's into their meeting.
First in is a Marine. "Grenade!" shouts the Commandant of the Marine Corps. "Hooah" shouts the Marine, and he grabs the dummy 'live' grenade from the floor and hurls it out the window. "Gentlemen," says the Commandant, "that man has courage - as do all my Marines!"
A Soldier folows. "Grenade!" Shouts the Army General, and in the blink of an eye the Soldier throws himself on the fake weapon. "Gents, I think you'll agree that American Soldiers epitomize bravery!" States the Army Chief, with pride.
A Sailor enters. "Grenade!" The Admiral shouts, but before he finishes the first syllable the Sailor has fled back out the door, and the remaining Chiefs laugh out loud.
The Chief of Staff Air Force nervously calls his man in.
"Airman, fall on that Grenade!" he shouts, determined not to experience the humiliation of his Navy partner.
"Kiss my ass, General!" The Airman replies.
Stunned silence fills the room, until the Air Force General says: "Well I think that settles it boys - this man has balls!"
Ouch! - In more ways than one.
When Marine Lance Cpl. David Battle learned he'd either have to sacrifice his ring finger or the wedding band he wore, he told doctors at a field hospital in Iraq to cut off the finger.
The 19-year-old former high school football star suffered a mangled left hand and serious wounds to his legs in a Nov. 13 fire fight in Fallujah. Battle, who is recovering at his parents' home in this desert city 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, came under attack as he and fellow Marines entered a building. Eleven other Marines were wounded.
Doctors were preparing to cut off Battle's ring to save as much of his finger as they could.
"But that would mean destroying my wedding ring," he said. "My wife is the strongest woman I know. She's basically running two people's lives since I've been gone. I don't think I could ever repay her or show her how grateful ... how much I love my wife, my soul mate."
With his approval, doctors severed his finger, but somehow in the chaos that followed, they lost his ring.
Although Battle was disappointed, his wife, Devon, said she was honored.
"I can't believe he did that," she said. "At first I was mad when he told me, but then I realized how lucky I am to have him in my life."
The couple, who met in the eighth grade, were married in June, just two weeks before Battle left for Iraq. He hopes to eventually return to the Marines, and to replace his wedding ring, but that will have to wait until he recovers.
In the meanwhile, Battle's high school has planned a banquet in his honor next week.
"We need to make more David Battles," said Daniel Pierce, the school's assistant head coach. "He is one amazing guy."
Dear Mr & Mrs Greyhawk
From the other theater of operations...
It's early days yet, but Afghanistan looks like a success story of President Bush's foreign policy - not surprisingly then, the media has "moved on" to other quagmires and disaster areas. Afghanistan's just not all that important anymore.
Let all of us in the West, leading safe and comfortable lives which allow us to take so much for granted, don't disparage the little things that are today taking place on the other side of the world; a song that can now be sung, a girl who can go to school, a joke that can be told, a country road being built - or indeed a rose smelled again. These things may not sound like much to us, but for the people of Afghanistan they are all small steps leading them towards a better life and a normal future.
The latest round-up of positive developments from Afghanistan is available on:
Thanks for your help in spreading the good news.
Here's an idea for a hybrid science fiction/techno-thriller story I'm working on. I think it'll be a hit, see if you agree:
A city becomes a haven for hostile alien forces who look like real people; they delight in capturing humans, torturing and killing them to keep the rest of the population under control. Though the majority of citizens want to be left alone they don't have the power to expel the invaders, and many join the enemy out of fear or desire for what little power they can gain. The situation worsens, and threatens the fragile peace and stability of an entire region. As global political strategies swirl in the background, the majority of peaceful citizens flee in advance of military forces coming to end the reign of terror, violently. In the background many argue for 'peaceful solutions' and 'reaching out' to the aliens, with whom we have much 'common ground', while others label these people as traitors to humanity, or question whether they are human at all. Still, the battle is inevitable, short lived, and devastating. The aliens are crushed by high-tech weaponry they couldn't begin to comprehend, and a plan is prepared for rebuilding the city and returning the people to their homes.
But how to ensure the same situation doesn't happen again? Here's where more tech/scifi elements come in. Alien identification systems are developed, though some declare them ineffective and unreliable. Checkpoints are set up around the city, and no one gets in without getting ID cards, requiring being photographed, fingerprinted and having their iris scans taken. All this info is to be kept in a central database. Elements of 'rights to privacy" and "big brother" plotlines will thicken the plot. How much freedom can we sacrifice to preserve our freedom? will be an underlying theme. All characters involved will twist reality to suit their personal agendas, and simple human errors will become global issues as warring factions fight to gain the upper hand in the situation.
The people will of course experience a range of emotions on returning to their devastated city. Many will be outraged, others will look forward to a future free from fear; their ultimate response to the situation will depend on the success of the complex rebuilding and compensation plan. This plan must be enacted swiftly, and here the element of conflict and suspense builds rapidly. Forces within the city and in the wider world beyond have multiple reasons for sabotaging the entire effort. Vast numbers of people worldwide will become unwitting pawns for various factions. Meanwhile, surviving aliens will regroup elsewhere...
The story will be told from the point-of-view of numerous characters on all sides of the issue; citizens, soldiers, surviving aliens, and family members of each along with the stories of the various geo-political leaders and factions that have their own motives for their actions. This will be a "can't miss thriller", a "page turner", perhaps even a "blockbuster" novel. I'm not sure of the ending yet, but I know that if the plan of the "good guys" can be shown to be a miserable failure actually driven by corrupt influences at the top, and that the "monsters" were actually "no different then us" (or better even, as we "degenerate" as a result of our misguided actions) I'll have a real New York Times bestseller on my hands.
Oh wait, that's not fiction, that's Fallujah today.
Joe Galloway (of "We Were Soldiers" fame) gives a great overview of the realities behind the recurring "armor shortage" story. Galloway (disclaimer: we've never met) is a reporter whose views I disagree with frequently and respect tremendously, but his report on the background reinforces several of the concepts introduced here and here last week. Excerpts follow, but as always, read the whole thing.
...the guerrilla war quickly escalated. U.S. forces in Iraq quickly discovered that the humvee - a light transport vehicle designed more than 15 years ago to replace the old World War II jeep - worked better than anything else they had on hand in terms of maneuverability and durability.
Unfortunately, it had zero protection built into it for the soldiers riding in it. The requests for humvees built with armor at the factory, and for add-on armor kits, grew from a few for Special Operations forces at the end of summer 2003 to 400 in November 2003 and more in months following. The total request, scheduled to be met in March, is for about 22,000 armored humvees.
Retired Col. Gary Motsek, a senior civilian official for the Army Materiel Command, said that given early shortages of a critical high-tensile steel and continuing shortages of bulletproof glass for windshields and door windows, it's little short of a miracle that the escalating demand has been met within about a year.
"The frustration I have is people asking: 'Why wasn't this on the shelf?' This involves a change of tactics, a change of the fight," Motsek said. "When the mission changed and the war changed, the armoring of the humvee became priority number one."
Motsek said that the design for an armor add-on kit was sketched out over a weekend, and the metal was cut and attached to a humvee within 10 days. That humvee was tested immediately for protection not only against small-arms fire but also heavier weapons. It took only four months from the first request in August 2003 to the beginning of production of the armor kits - a process, Motsek contended, that normally takes years.
A year ago, the steel needed for the armor kits wasn't manufactured anywhere in the United States, and the output of the single plant making bulletproof glass was 15 windshields a month.
Today there are several American sources for the special steel, and the plant making ballistic glass has ramped up production to 500 windshields a month. It will be joined in February by a second plant also capable of making 500 windshields a month.
The Armor Holdings plant that turns out new humvees with full armor protection has, in that same year, boosted production from 50 a month to 450 a month. Army Materiel Command officials said there were discussions about Armor Holdings' offer Thursday to increase production of the armored humvee from 450 to 550 per month. They expressed surprise that such an increase might be possible.
The "we can increase production" quote has been parroted repeatedly in the mainstream media with little background or additional information provided. It's good to see someone willing to put a more complete story out for the tax-paying public; it's no surprise that Galloway is the man that did so.
man, spend a few months in Iraq and you miss out on everything!
The results are in, and the best blog in the world is...
...still whoever you think it is, silly. So thanks to Kevin for putting up with the headaches and hosting a great party (for that's what it really was you know) and thanks to all who helped Mudville finish a respectable second (in a statstical 3-way tie with the most excellent Assymetrical Information and Allah in a category loaded with heavyweights and many of my favorite blogs) and congrats to Ace, who's in a class by himself!
Full results are here.
Many are taking the exchange, along with alarming new statistics on military preparedness from the House Armed Services Committee, as proof that the Bush administration has failed to give soldiers in Iraq the equipment they need to face combat. Actually, the problem runs much deeper than the current administration: it stems from the Pentagon's uneven effort over the last decade to turn a cold-war military into a force able to meet today's challenges.
Simply put, there are no more front lines. In slow recognition, the Army purchased light armored vehicles in the late 1990's for its military police to conduct peacekeeping, and more recently spent billions of dollars to outfit several brigades with Stryker medium-weight armored vehicles, which are impervious to most small arms and rocket-propelled grenades and can be deployed anywhere in the world by airplane.
But the fact that there is no longer a front line also means there aren't any more "rear" areas where support units can operate safely. Support units must now be prepared to face the same enemy as the infantry, but are having to do so in trucks with canvas doors and fiberglass hoods because Pentagon procurement planners never expected they'd have to fight. Remember that Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the Iraq invasion's most celebrated prisoner of war, was a supply clerk with a maintenance company.
Well done, Phil! (Oh wait - it's Phillip now! ;) - Hey don't forget all us "little guys"!)
The Mudville Gazette proudly spotlights our quotes of the week. Are they poor choices of words or accidental statments of truth? Did they say what they mean or mean what they say? Let's go through the looking glass, and you can be the judge:
When Army Sergeant Dennis Edwards spoke at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School in Massachusetts, students and teachers "...listened in rapt silence as he told chilling tales of battlefield horror in Iraq and criticized President Bush's motives for going to war". The centerpiece of his presentation was his description of how "...he and two other soldiers shot and killed a 10-year-old boy in Iraq who pretended to be wounded and suddenly fired an AK-47 rifle. The boy was found to have explosives attached to his body, Edwards told the stunned audience."
One minor problem: he made the whole thing up. Brian MacQuarrie's Boston Globe story relates the reaction to the news from the students and faculty at the school, and gives us quote number one:
"His confession has also saddened Dennis-Yarmouth teachers and students, who said they felt honored and captivated by his appearance."
Yes, how sad that there wasn't really a dead little 10-year-old boy. No word whether "grief counselors" were available to help them "move on".
Speaking of gullibility and a willingness to believe anything about those wacky Arabs, Tyler Golson relates his experience teaching English in Damascus, specifically his shock at learning his students weren't Hamas or International Answer members when they revealed to him their support for George Bush. Tyler responds, and provides quote two:
"But doesn't he scare you?" I asked finally, unable to contain my personal feelings and throwing the lesson plan out the window. "Because of Bush's ideas many people in my country think that all of you are terrorists."
Quote three is an overlooked comment in the notorious email exposed by the Drudge Report. Edward Lee Pitts, the reporter who planted the question about armored Humvees, explains his motivation:
I have been trying to get this story out for weeks- as soon as I foud (sic) out I would be on an unarmored truck - and my paper published two stories on it. But it felt good to hand it off to the national press.
Fortunately it has also been handed off to the blogs.
Stephen F. Hayes writes from Afghanistan in the weekly Standard, describing the managed chaos surrounding the inauguration of Hamid Karzai as first elected president of that nation, then relates a portion of the inaugural address
All of this activity came to a halt when Karzai, dressed in his flowing green silk coat and black lambskin hat, approached the microphone. He thanked Vice President Cheney for making the trip from Washington and then turned his attention to the American people:Whatever we have achieved in Afghanistan--the peace, the election, the reconstruction, the life that the Afghans are living today in peace, the children going to school, the businesses, the fact that Afghanistan is again a respected member of the international community--is from the help that the United States of America gave us. Without that help Afghanistan would be in the hands of terrorists--destroyed, poverty-stricken, and without its children going to school or getting an education. We are very, very grateful, to put it in the simple words that we know, to the people of the United States of America for bringing us this day.
Sadly, most Americans never heard these words. Gratitude, it seems, is not terribly newsworthy. Neither is democracy. The Washington Post played Karzai's inauguration on page A-13, a placement that suggested it was relatively less important than Eliot Spitzer's decision to run for governor of New York or the decision of the U.S. government to import flu vaccine from Germany.
In this season away from friends and family in a land not quite as far along that rough road to freedom, those of us in Iraq can take heart from these words too - though it's indeed a shame I hadn't heard or read them before Hayes' report either.
And all the more a shame, given that many of America's finest gave their all for this moment and those yet to come. Those with any sense of recent history whatsoever will recall that from the start the Afghan operation was declared a "quagmire" and "another Vietnam" by many in the American media, who cited history, terrain, and American weakness as likely causes for failure. Still, within three years of commencing this bold adventure we've replaced a 'government' that thought nothing of destroying the World Trade Center, 2000-year-old statues of Buddha, and countless human lives with a leadership that promises hope in the face of hopelessness, and an ability to look towards tomorrow without despair.
By the way, here in Iraq there's much left to do and little time to do it between now and election day, and those so inclined are encouraged to offer prayers for the Coalition troops, their families back home, and the people of Iraq today. With Christmas coming and ugly work at hand you can be assured the quagmire crowd will have plenty to discuss in the days to come.
The latest news video from Iraq. Reporter interviews insurgents, in color, in your living room. Shocking, must watch.
We're not just in the Military Blog category! There are MilBloggers hidden throughout the 2004 Weblog Awards. And here is where you'll find them:
This is the last day to place your vote, so what are you waiting for? Get over there!
This is big news, isn't it? Surely it's the story everyone's talking about in the States?
FALLUJAH, Iraq - U.S. Marines have almost completely cleared this former insurgent stronghold of insurgents and weapons, setting the stage for the return of the civilian population before next month's elections, a senior commander said yesterday.
Lt. Gen. John Sattler, who commands the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said that 97% of Fallujah's more than 20,000 buildings "have been swept for the third and hopefully, final time."
"We've removed all the ordnance, it's free of any insurgents and any improvised explosive devices or booby traps that might have been left behind," Sattler said.
U.S. and Iraqi forces in November recaptured this city 40 miles west of Baghdad from the hands of guerrillas who had used it as a base to launch attacks across Iraq.
Sattler cited the Iraqi commander of Fallujah, Lt. Gen. Abdul Khadar, as saying he would like to start bringing some of the 250,000 displaced people back by Dec. 24. By then, measures will be in place to guard against insurgents slipping back into the city, Sattler said.
Also yesterday, Iraq's mainstream Shiite groups announced a diverse list of 228 candidates for the Jan. 30 elections, a victory for Shiite leaders who wanted to present a powerful, united front as they seek a leading role in post-Saddam Iraq after years on the sidelines.
Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, gave his blessing to the list. The 228 candidates include independent Sunni Muslims, a Shiite Kurdish group, and members of the Yazidi minority religious sect and a Turkomen movement, among others. Also among them are members of the Iraqi National Congress, including former exile and one-time Pentagon favorite Ahmed Chalabi.
I mean, it's what a lot of Marines and Soldiers gave their lives for after all, so I'm sure it's the lead story everywhere.
Our friend Bill at Small Town Veteran has been corresponding with an Iraqi, and sharing opinions of an editorial.
Iraqi Editorial ?Semi government?
By: Muhammed Abdul Jabbar
?Help team or foreign help team has deviated from consensus of Islamic teams in terms of the importance of Imams or government. It said that the society has no need for a government. Of course, this idea is not encouraged by large numbers of scholars and it was kept in religious community books....
I have seen many similar editorials in other Iraqi newspapers. This is a sentiment shared by many writers. Iraq has a united people of different races: Arab, Kurd, Turkman etc. and of different faiths: Muslim, Christian, Jew and of different factions: Sunni, Shiite, Kaldian, Ashurian, Catholic, Ashkenazi & Sephardi etc... But above all they are Iraqi and most want to stay that way. This feeling of Iraqi unity is becoming stronger as Iraqi elections near. Being able to cast their vote, and voice their opinions unites Iraqis. This newfound freedom is a great bond and common denominator of Iraqis. Iraqis feel valued, responsible for their country, responsible for their future, responsible for other Iraqis and lately, responsible for minorities? rights. While Iraqi politicians squabble for voter favoritism, voters are getting more sophisticated with their search of information and demands for better security, infrastructure etc. It is awe-inspiring to watch the development of freedom and democracy in Iraq. It is shocking however to see the very high price paid. This I am sure reminds us how precious our own democracy is and gives us a higher appreciation of the hard work and sacrifices our founders endured.
It really is an interesting read, something you won't find in the MSM.
An unexpected honor; an annual award from Rightwingsparkle:
"Blog Most Likely to make me cry: Mudville!"
Ignoring for now how that might compare to the honor she bestowed on 2Slick (who, by the way is pudgy, balding, and thinks his gold tooth looks hot) I realize that though I'm pleased to be named "best" anything, I don't want people staying away from here for fear of crying. (Especially my fellow MilBloggers like 2Slick, who tends to cry loudly with little provocation - think Bambi's mother).
And every time I put up a funny post, I always get comments regarding how surprised somone is that they found something funny here! The time has come to put that misconception down for good. Commencing immediately below this line, a series of posts cut from previous entries in the Mudville Gazette, the funniest MilBlog in the History of the World!
I'll leave it to the reader to figure out the "current events" upon which most of these items were based.
Without further ado:
How Johnny got his Hat (I)
The fog was thick as pea soup as we made our way across the border, but it muffled the sounds of the boat as we entered Cambodia. That was good, because our business there was anything but good.
"I wish you'd take that damn blindfold off." I whispered to the skipper.
"I learned to sail this way, hombre." He replied. His parrot sat silently on his shoulder. The bird spoke three languages but was not using any of them now.
"That bird makes me nervous" told him "if he spouts off in any of those three languages I'll..."
"Four languages." He said, still wearing the blindfold, piloting the river on pure instinct, nerves of steel. "English, French, Italian, and 'bird' - you probably forgot bird." He cut the engine, pulled the mask off. "He's disciplined. He wont squawk. And this is as far as we go. I'm not risking my crew. Or my bird"
"Fair enough, far enough." I said, slipping over the side. Kurtz didn't know it but his time was running short.
"Hey..." the skip whispered as I came up for air, "you forgot your hat."
"Keep it." I said, and pushed for shore.
Ooglay Hussein's diary, 21 March, 2003:
Ahh my "ally" Frenchman, here I Ooglay am drinking now heavily for reasons of my own and will soon be finished for tonight. But my educating is needed for those of American schoolings. Listen here is the reason why Georgebush is the world joke butt okay?
I am inventing good jokes all the time in the palace and so I went to tell my glorious father for whom i will gladly make of myself a baricade before your paper tanks a new joking i had thought. I saw his office door being not shut allways so that means i can enter? right? so i approached the prescence of he for whom the sun provides warmth and he was on the phone at his desk but i stood proudly before him and he is talking to chiraq and this is always making him angry and he is saying when jacques will your foul foreign legion arrive? Don't jerk me Jacques! And okay i think he needs a laugh.
"Glorious Father for whom i would gladly ride a MOAB from the plane to the ground,here is a riddle for your laughing!!"
And he looked at me with those kill-you-slowly eyes he used on dans rather but doesn't say a word and I say "then how many georges bush does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" and he looks now like he looks at the meat grinder people and I say "Oh no please don't say there's more then one!!! Get it?"
And so that is when he struk me very forcefully between my eyes with the phone.
And I am now falling backwards and if not for the will of Allah that our friend Hans Blix was there to catch me I would inded have fallen into the drums of ricin that were nearly filling that half of the room.
So now is why george bush is worlds joke, okay, because a bit later as i come to my senses my glorious father for whom I would run naked with only my sword into your onrushing marines is telling this same joke of mine to Chiraq!!
And that is how it came to be, that the world jokes about bush, i swear on my mothers purity!
But Frenchmen, where is my foriegn legion frenchmen?
The year: 2009
Location: A major Hollywood Studio soundstage.
Scene: A movie being filmed.
Woman (sobbing): What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?
Man (approaching her, arms extended): Now sugerbuns, don't get all...
Woman (sobs turning to anger): ?I can hardly breathe, (gulps for air) and you have the nerve to...
Man: Honey, now come on, you know your the only one I love!
(Man reaches woman, she smacks him)
Woman: (Sobbing but angry) Don't you honey me, you...
Mike M: Hey, I'm the director! I'm supposed to say that!
Hillary: Shut up, you disgusting fatzoid shlob, or you'll wish you had free health care. I thought we agreed that my character would not display violent tendencies?
Mike M: Surveys of our target demographic indicate that they prefer a strong female role model who...
Hillary: Surveys? You are polling people to see what they think? I'll tell you what they think! I tell them what they think!
Mike M: But the target demographic is young unmarried Democrats, and you're...
Hillary: When I want to know what young unmarried Democrats think I'll call Chelsea! And by the way, you will start referring to me with some respect or I will have your fat butt right back in that unemployment line. Kapish, chubby?
Mike M: Yes, but I..
Hillary: What did you say?
Mike M (sheepishly): Yes ma'am.
Hillary: That's better. Now lets talk some more about casting.
Mike M: I thought we agreed...
Hillary (through clenched teeth): You want to talk about "agreed", what did we just agree to one second ago? (A large man who had been standing near her now steps towards Mike M, while reaching under his suit coat)
Mike M: Ma'am, I'm sorry. (Large man steps back.) Please accept my apology. But on the subject of casting...
Hillary: Listen carefully Jabba, I'm not going to have this version turn out like that Sharon Stone TV movie nightmare a few years back! That woman playing me, she's too old, she looks too plain, and she's not convincing me that she's shocked by Bill's nasty pig behavior...she sucks. She can't act to save her life. In fact, threaten her with death, maybe she'll...
Mike M: We can't do that, ma'am, she's union.
Hillary: Okay, say no more. But I'll take care of the "union" thing soon as I get back to DC. Let me think about her fate for a while. She's not cutting it. I need to be convinced that I was shocked when I discovered my husband's treachery.
Mike M: As do we all, ma'am.
Hillary: What was that, cretin?
Mike M: I said, "yes, she's too small" it's a Hollywood term, the roll is just too big for her. Ma'am.
Hillary: Exactly! I knew I picked the right man to direct! Now, how about this hag you've got playing....her? The skank?
Mike M: Playing Monica? That's...
Hillary: Do not mention that name in my presence!
Mike M: Yes Ma'am.
Hillary: Now who is that unknown young skank?
Mike M: She's more of a has-been skank then an unknown, ma'am. An old friend from the Iraq war days who needed some work...
Hillary: I don't care about any of that! Just give me her name, moron! She's a great actress, she's got me convinced that she's a whore attracted by my husband's fame!
Mike M: That's Janeane Garofalo, ma'am
Hillary: I despise her completely. Have Ms Garofalo sent to my trailer immediately after shooting is done for today. But make her ditch that blue dress first!
Mike M: It's quite realistic, yes? You know that spot is actually..
Hillary: I don't care! Keep your Hollywood secrets to yourself. Now, I've decided the fate of that no-talent hack playing me. Fire her now.
Mike M: Ma'am, this will set us back and we're already way over our budget, so maybe...
Hillary: Listen, Moby, I've still got some campaign money from the American Muslim whosis and the Chinese just sent another briefcase full of...
Mike M: Maybe it's the script...
Hillary: Don't know. Don't care. Haven't read it. Fire her now.
Mike M: Ms C, Ma'am, with all due respect, you can't just...
Hillary (face completely red, spittle flying): I'm the President of this stink hole of a country, buster! Do not tell me what I can and can't do. Now if that homely no-talent hack can't convince me that I was absolutely crushed when I discovered the truth about my husband and his 'ho's then we will find somebody who can! I'll be in my trailer! (Stomps off, secret service agents in tow, stops and shouts back) And don't forget! Send me Gafugalo!
Mike M (mumbling) It's Garofalo, yer highness. (Now waddling over to actress portraying Hillary) Hey, Ms. Streep, Meryl, ummmm...we need to talk...
Ooglay Hussein's diary, 21 March, 2003:
And here is my other good joke:
I am designing T-shirt and it shows blown up things like the ancient ziggurat and Esteemed brother Udays palace (may none of his others experience harm) and the museum that Qusays people blew up this morning, okay, and then it says "Okay, shock and awe, shock and awe! We get it already, now go home!" Don't you think it's funny? Okay now keep listening to what i write; I am Ooglay! Well I make a picture of them and make it look like the pope is wearing one and I put them on e-bay for 50,000,000 dinar each an so far i sell 3 million of them in France and San Francisco! This is a wonderful thing but here is where Ooglay is funny joke: we will never make or deliver them!!! Ha!! Now where is your foriegn legion!
Doha, Qatar (IP News)
CENTCOM officials today announced they are re-tooling the now famous "Operation Iraqi Freedom Playing Cards" with a Pokemon-inspired deck.
"We've done a little research, and that revealed we were a little behind the times with our methods." Said a spokesman. "Today's soldier and the American public have moved beyond traditional playing cards. That's why we're proud to announce we've developed, in conjunction with Wizards of the Coast, this new Yu-gi-oh like set. This set, in addition to being more relevant, will allow us a much more robust list of "targets." For instance, in addition to wanted criminals, numerous items such as the priceless missing relics of Ur can now be depicted on cards."
Little Billy Jefferson, student at Hillary Clinton Middle School in upstate New York, stated "These are way cool. My "Ancient Crown of Sumer" card adds three hitpoints to the "Breath of Lies" card I just played on my "Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash" card. That stack just kicked Jimmy's ass."
Billy went on to explain how additional cards in much-sought-after expansion packs can be used to "evolve the basic characters into full demons of the ninth circle."
"But the most wanted card now, something every collector dreams of, is beyond a doubt the ultra-rare gold foil Saddam."
No word yet from CENTCOM or Wizards of the Coast on a rumored "Al Queda expansion pack"
How Johnny got his Hat (II)
They ate in silence, rarely looking up from their food. The young El-Tee felt shame; his love for the agent, whose name he did not know, who's mission he could not know, was as endless as it was unrequited.
"I like your hat" he said. And regretted it immediately. Man, he thought, did that sound as desperate to him as it sounded to me?
The agent grunted. It' was one of the things he found irresistable about him. "Gimme that ketchup, huh?" He said, motioning to the small plastic bottle.
"Sure" he replied, moving a little too eagerly to comply with the request. "Anything you want, just ask..."
"This'll do" the agent said, taking the ketchup. Their fingertips touched; to the El-tee it was like a brief spark, like running his tongue across the top of a 9-volt battery. He tried for eye contact but got nothing for his efforts. "You like ketchup, huh? I can't stand that stuff myself."
"Whatever" the agent said, and began eating. "Worst Christmas ever." he said around a mouthfull of snake meat.
"Yea" said the El-tee. "Me too." He looked at his hands. "Crap" he muttered, "got ketchup on my sleeve." The agent remained silent. "That's how I got my first purple heart you know." he added, smiling. The agent gave him a look - the look you give a dead animal suddenly found in your path. "Kidding" he added quickly.
Silence roared between them until he finally got up the nerve. "I got you a gift." He said, and he produced the wrapped box.
"Is this a joke?" Was the response, but he took the box and ripped the paper off. He opened it and lifted the watch.
"It's a real Rolex. I picked it up in Saigon."
The CIA man was creeped out, but he knew he could hock the watch for 10 bucks, probably to the same crook that sold it to the squid. "Uh, thanks, I guess. But I didn't get you nothin'..."
"It's okay..." he said, but his voice cracked.
"Wait" the guy said "here, take the hat."
The LT stared, his jaw agape, at the most beautiful blonde flat top he'd ever laid eyes on...
Ooglay Hussein's diary 25 March 2003:
Hey who is to be telling me war is dangerous! I am the one who will be telling you! It is Ooglay, son of my father, who is smarter then the smartest of your smart bombs!!Yes you are rightly thinking I am alive and well. Allah be praised! After last posting I made telling how my glorious father was safe with me in my underpalace which the americans (i spit when i say that word though dying of 1000 thirsts) were not finding with bombs. Well it was not one halfhour later when they found it with more bombs then i would care to see again i tell you now! I do not like your inhuman shockanaw! You american protestors must make georgebush stop trying to take my glorious fathers oil with his shockanaw! All he is doing is stealing the beloved leader of my county's oils! Then he can put it in your SUV and that is how he will take your tax cut money back I tell you it's true on my mothers purity i swear! Protest him until he stops, you infidel swine!!!!
Ouch stop hiting me my brother Uday with that cursed cane...I'm writng now I'm sory for calig or protested friend teh swine. They are not the swne teh glorous protestrs, my fater declars you all honorary citizen of Iraq! Now, my esteemed brother, ma yopu have 2000 sons, enough wit the caning of my hindquarters!! Look at my typings now...
Hello to you all It is Ooglay, son of the glorious leader of the people of Iraq. Long may he reign! Long may they know the thousand daily pleasures of his reigning on them!
Ooglay where have you been? This is the thing everyone here is asking everyone else here I am sure i know this. My story is that war is dangerous like only I can tell you. Hear me: After the shockanawing on my underpalace my father and brothers or their doubles (who can tell these days with all of us covered in s**t) blamed Ooglay for revealing the secret location on his postings. Well let me tell you no one except the foulest of your hollywood infidels would deserve a fisted pounding the like of which they gave Ooglay on that day I tell you I swear by the hump of my camel. Three Saddams, two Udays, and I think one of the many Qasays were all kicking me at one time. You do not want a thing like that, you soft Americans!And my humanshield did not shield me at all that day! Curse his hide!! I hope he's sent to Basra!!
The Mudville Gazette is pleased to present a new series from cub reporter Howell Raines. "Howell Raines' America" will focus on under-reported segments of American society, with a focus on those things that make America great. Today Raines investigates the world of Web Loggers; ironically a segment of society that some would suggest helped hasten his ouster from a previous job.
Web Logging, or "Blogging" as it's commonly called by its' practitioners, is a fast growing method of internet-based communication. And Web Loggers, or "Bloggers" as they call themselves, represent a growing and vocal segment of society. By some estimates there are 3 million Blogs in the world (or "Blogosphere") today. However, sites that track number and popularity of Web Logs (or "Blogs") rarely list more then 2 to 3 thousand.
After some little research, I discovered these blogs to be fairly evenly split, with approximately half being right wing extremist hate sites and the remainder being more moderate, mainstream pro-Al Gore sites dedicating to righting the wrongs perpetrated on this country in the wake of the 2000 election and the subsequent "war on terror". Although we were able to track down thousands of the right wing conservative neocon pro-war bloggers, we could locate very few moderates. Presumably this is due to the fact that they must remain anonymous due to fear of retribution.
After some effort and a payoff to AOL, I was finally able to set aside some time to visit with a group of these middle-of-the-road Bloggers. This past Sunday morning I found myself in the basement of a nice suburban Boston area home, being entertained by "Bill" as we awaited the arrival of his fellow internet "columnists."
HR: "Bill", you run a highly successful weblog...
Bill: Which one?
HR: Oh, you have several? I was referring to "I Hate Bush"
Bill: Yea, that one. It gets a lot of hits from people who think it's a gay porn site though. I mean, a hit is a hit, so whatever works.
HR: So you have other sites?
Bill: Oh, several. "Bushaterz," "Bushwakkerz," "Bushnazi," "Suzy Cataloni for Homecoming Queen"... A lot of people visit 'Bushaterz' because they think its anti-bus though.
HR: Suzy Cataloni for Homecoming Queen?
Bill: What? Who said that? I never heard of that.
HR: Well you sure are busy. How many Blogs do you produce?
Bill: Well...I'm not really sure. I've forgotten a few. And also it's not all about the blogging. I also go out and comment on the right wing hate Blogs. This lets the wackos know they aren't in control and also brings traffic to my Blogs.
HR: This is why you have to use a false name then, for fear of being targeted by these hate groups?
Bill: Yeah! False names, actually. If I was the only one commenting on the Nazi sites I'd look foolish, I think. So I use several different names throughout the thread.
HR: Ahhh... good tactic. Kinda like what The Party does on voting day. You'll go far. Say, when are your fellow Bloggers going to arrive?
Bill: Oh, any minute, I'm sure. Hopefully soon. My folks are due home from Church here soon...
HR: Oh, this isn't your place? I assumed you were making money with all these Blogs...
Bill: Oh no! I mean, I've got the PayPal things and all...and once someone got me an "Adult Books Online Gift Certificate" from my wish list...
HR: So how did you get started Blogging?
Bill: Mrs. Yablonski's Computer 203 class at Kerry-Heinz High. The whole class does Blogs as a graded project.
HR: Ahhhh... sounds like an excellent teacher...
Bill: She's cool. She taught us a lot about what's wrong with America today. And this one time we each entered all our Blogs in a contest, then voted for each other and ourselves in our other Blogs. It was cool. I won.
HR: Wow! With that integrity level you could go far in the newspaper business too...say, are there really any other Bloggers?
Bill: Naah. I'm the only one. Sorry.
HR: That's okay kid. You remind me of me. Hey, are there any other moderate bloggers at all?
Bill: I met one in a chat room once. But you can't believe everything people tell you on line...
HR: Wow. You really work hard at this. Do you have time for a girl friend? Or whatever?
Bill: Yea! I got a girl friend! You don't know her 'cause she goes to another school across town...
Well, Bill's folks came home and he made me sneak out because he wasn't allowed to have people over when they weren't there. But I'll always remember that I was the first to interview a possible future President of this great land of ours.
I'm Howell Raines, and that's Howell Raines' America. Good day.
How Johnny got his Hat (III)
Christmas '68: Cruising up the MeKong on our way to Kampuchea. The Doors blasted through the stereo speakers. "LA Woman" - I'll never forget it. Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" was our theme song, but I was jamming along with Mr Mojo Risin' on my guitar for a special lady. K-dog was water skiing, Rufus was piloting, she was sunning herself on the poop deck and we were all stoned immaculate.
The eight-track switched over. Man, what we had to put up with for state of the art sound. Then the song ended but I wailed off a few more licks before engaging the sweet little honey in scintillating conversation.
"So, you're with the CIA?" I said, casually setting my Hendrix autographed Strat into it's stand. Mom had sent it for Christmas just this year.
"Whadda yew tawkin' abowt?" she replied in that phony Brooklyn accent. "I'm a dansah, I'm here wit da USO. Not da CIA, da USO"
"Yeah, I said, admiring the curves." When were you last at Langley?"
She looked at me kinda funny "I know a guy named Frank Langley" she said "but he's a bum that can kiss my..."
"I know George HW Bush you know." I replied. "Went to school with his son. He's the head of the CIA. HW I mean, not his son. His son's a drunken frat boy, never will amount to much."
"I once danced at a drunken frat party. They tried to rip me off." She said, but she pronounced it "awf." I loved that accent then, and I love foreign sounding accents to this day. "Yew gawt any tanning lotion?" she asked.
"CIA doesn't provide for all your needs, eh? Here, I've got some SPF 15. Want me to rub it on?"
"No tanks" she said, and took it from me.
"Yeah, lets hope so" I said.
"huh?" she asked.
"No tanks. You said no tanks. I said let's hope not."
"Yeah.. whatever. Look, I ain't CIA either. I'm USO. I don't care what Rasman said, he just wanted to make sure you'd let me on the boat, okay? Don't get angry wit him. He's a noice guy."
"Yeah, got it. Good cover, that USO thing. Hey, is this your hat?"
"Huh? Naaaw, dat ain't mine. I never seen dat before. Where's Rasman, anyhow?"
"Probably fell overboard again. You sure this isn't your hat?"
"It ain't my hat. Look at it. It looks like crap. Is that mold?"
"Maybe" I said. "Oh well, finders keepers. It's my hat now." I put the hat on my head and straped my guitar over my shoulder, and hit the "play' button on the remote. The opening chords of The Who's "Won't get Fooled Again" blasted, and I did my best Pete Townsend windmill thing. I'd seen them at Woodstock, I had it down.
Like I said...stoned. Immaculate. The sun was shining, she was sparkling, and I was singing, looking forward to the scream at the end. I could scream better than Daltry. Better than Janis Joplin even. The girls dig a good rockin' scream.
"Yeeeeaaargh" I belted it out.
"We won't get fooled again!"
The following questions are from an actual CENTCOM press briefing late in the invasion of Iraq. The answers are why you'll never see me in such an environmnt.
CENTCOM NEWS RELEASE
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
April 15, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TRANSCRIPT OF 4/15 CENTCOM BRIEFING
UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND OPERATIONAL UPDATE BRIEFING
LOCATION: IN MY DREAMS
TIME: 7:04 A.M. EDT
DATE: TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 2003
GREYHAWK: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Yadda yadda yadda okay now your questions. Yes, Adi.
Q Adi Rival, ABC News. Regarding fugitive regime leaders, there are reports now that some of them may have left Iraq to go into Syria and other countries. Is there a rewards program set up for every single member of the top 55? And also, do you have DNA of most of these regime leaders in your -- at CENTCOM? Thank you.
GREYHAWK: 'Maybe' on the reward thing. Would that lead you to tell us where they are? And DNA? we might have some. Why, do you want to donate from your collection? Or do you want DNA as a reward for turning someone in?
Q James Forlong (sp) from Sky News. You've mentioned you've got Saddam Hussein's DNA. Do you also have Bashar Al-Assad's DNA?
GREYHAWK: You people's obsession with DNA is really creeping me out here, okay? Can any of you explain DNA? Or do you just use it in sentences? Are you collecting and trading this stuff? I mean really, do you want to clone somebody or what?
Q Pam Sampson (sp), Associated Press. Can you please comment on reports that the Iraqi army's western An Bahr (ph) command surrendered today to U.S. forces?
GREYHAWK: We do have a rumor that the 12 guys who may have survived Air Force bombing runs might have given up.
Q General, Paul Adams, BBC. Do you have details of an incident reported in Mosul which may have involved fatalities and possibly involved American forces?
GREYHAWK: I think your referring to what we call the war. People are getting hurt and even killed.
Q (Inaudible) -- New York Times. Not to beat a dead horse, but to return for a second to the DNA question, you said you do have samples of DNA material from the Hussein family. Please tell us where, when, how and from whom they were obtained.
GREYHAWK: Listen freak, we're not giving you any DNA samples, okay? If you have some youd like to contribute we'd appreciate that. Otherwise forget about it.
Yes, ma'am, in the back.
Q (Inaudible) -- BBC. We have reports that you are searching sites -- this is fairly constantly raised -- for weapons of mass destruction. Will you be bringing in or inviting in any impartial body to help you with the search, possibly the U.N. weapons inspectors?
GREYHAWK: Yes, as soon as it can be reliably determined that Hell has frozen over.
Yes, sir, please.
Q Michael Weiskopf, Time Magazine. What is the price on Saddam's head?
GREYHAWK: Two Billion Iraqi Dinar.
Q (Inaudible) -- ABC Television Australia. Can you confirm this report around that the commander of the Republican Guard Baghdad reached an agreement with American forces to surrender and get his men to quit and go home in exchange for transfer, via an Apache helicopter, to an undisclosed safe haven?
GREYHAWK: It's true, these people will do anything for a helicopter ride. In fact the reward for Saddam is now Two Billion Iraqi Dinar and a helicopter ride.
Yes, sir, please.
Q (Inaudible) -- Al Jazeera. Actually, I've just been back from southern Iraq up to Nasiriyah, and I've witnessed the humanitarian efforts. And they were going up -- I mean, finding our way slowly. And actually can you give us some sort of a breakdown as to how much human aid have you injected into that area? What was taken from Iraqi warehouses from the stocks of the oil-for-food? What did you provide yourselves? And on the medical sort of thing, do you have all the answers to all the cases that are there?
GREYHAWK: I said please and you forgot to say "thank you". So sit down and shut up.
Yes, please, Chas?
Q Chas Henry, WTOP Radio. Thank you Greyhawk. Can you give us a sense of the scope and scale of the coalition's effort to hunt for weapons of mass destruction? How many people are involved in this effort? Dozens? Hundreds? And how are they focusing their efforts?
GREYHAWK: Now, this is a good question. I believe we've got 250,000 armed inspectors combing Iraq freely right now, with no UN or Iraqi restrictions.
In the back, please? And then I'll come to you next.
Q Pat Doyle (ph) from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Given the emphasis in the beginning of the campaign on eliminating weapons of mass destruction and getting rid of Saddam Hussein, if coalition forces are unable to capture or verify that Hussein is dead, either using DNA or some other process, and if they are unable to find unambiguous weapons of mass destruction, will the campaign have been less than a success?
GREYHAWK: Yes, dipshot. It will be declared a complete failure and we'll all go home in shame. By the way, thanks for making the trip from Viking country, moron. Hot enough for ya?
Yes, please, Paul. I'm sorry, I promised to go to her, and then I'll come right back to you. Please?
Q I'm Karen Sloan (ph) with AP Radio. I had two questions. One was getting back to the antiquities issue. Asking people to return things now is kind of like shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted. Why did the coalition, when it went to great lengths to protect oil facilities not go to any lengths at all apparently to protect some of the museums in Baghdad that had great antiquities?
My second question is we are hearing some reports of anti-American demonstrations in Nasiriyah in conjunction with the political meeting going on there. Do you have any comment on that?
GREYHAWK: We are here for a war. Someone should have told you before you came over to see the museum. I see where you are disappointed. Sorry our troops were busy dealing with people who were trying to kill them. It's criminal what happened. Why didn't the AP protect the museum? As to the demonstrations, as I am trying to explain to you, we just had a war and a lot of these people are a little ticked off at us for shooting at them, okay? We hope they'll get over it but we'll see.
Q Hi, it's Paul Hunter, from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Yesterday you came close as Tikrit was falling. Do you today declare the major military operations in this war finished?
GREYHAWK: Okay, sure. The war is over. Anyone else gets killed by US troops from now on it's a crime and we'll investigate it as such, okay dipshot?
Q General, Pete Smallowitz from Knight Ridder. With more than 50 Iraqi leaders who are captured or who surrendered, what happens next with them? Is there a trial? Is there a sentencing? And how long does that process take? How will it work?
GREYHAWK: This is war. Trial, sentencing, execution, two weeks tops. So don't try anything stupid.
Yes, ma'am, please?
Q (Off mike) -- of Reuters. Can I ask what the situation is along the Syrian border? I know in the past you've said you control at least one of the border crossings. Do you control the whole border? Is it possible for leaders to cross over there? Is there evidence that they are doing so or that weapons of mass destruction have been taken over there?
GREYHAWK: Yes. We've got men spaced every six feet along the entire length of all borders of Iraq. No one leaves til we find the Top Dogs, the WMD, and all that stuff from the museum. I suggest you people check your luggage very carefully to make sure no one "planted any antiquities" on you, okay?
Thanks very much, I'll be here all week...
Ooglay Hussein's diary 25 March 2003:
So now you are thinking you know war is bad? Not the half of the bad things you are knowing! I am Ooglay and for my glorious father i would hand pull a wagon full of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons to the syrian border except that i just drove it there and it was a truck!
Now I will tell you where I have been: After my beating my brothers took me and hoisted me up on the flagpole on the roof of the last standing ministry of defense building here in Baghdad!! And all that day and into the night I stayed there on top of the empty building, like hello american missile pilots, here is Ooglay shoot me!! And Uday was thinking he was very funny to be shining the russian laser guidance beam on me that night from across the street! D**n the russians! We shine their useless guidance lasers on the museums and the mosques and they are not hit ever!! The Russians will pay for selling useless crap to my angry father, I will be telling you!! Well Allah be praised Ooglay was spared when the Americans did not come that night! So I am thinking Good they maybe are starting on Teheran (this should be making you protestors angry!) but the next day they still leave me up flapping all day. And so they would the next night but my mother, praise upon her wondrous beauty, arrived on the bus from Umm Qasr and gave Uday a beating with his own cane and made him take me down! And I am not knowing what she did to my illustrious father but he has stopped drawing his pistol now when I enter the room!
So it is I Ooglay, who is knowing that war is dangerous!!!
Nudity in blogs: Can't something be done?
(Welcome back Chris Muir!)
Update: No perma-links available, click Dec 11 on calendar in upper left at Chris? site.
Meet Sgt Dennis Edwards:
When Army Sergeant Dennis Edwards spoke at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School last month, 100 students listened in rapt silence as he told chilling tales of battlefield horror in Iraq and criticized President Bush's motives for going to war.
Edwards, 23, a Barnstable High School graduate, said he and two other soldiers shot and killed a 10-year-old boy in Iraq who pretended to be wounded and suddenly fired an AK-47 rifle. The boy was found to have explosives attached to his body, Edwards told the stunned audience.
Now, Edwards has admitted to his superiors in the elite 82d Airborne Division that the story about the shooting was a lie, Army officials yesterday. As a result, the veteran of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan could be charged with making false statements, face a court-martial, and be stripped of his rank.
His confession has also saddened Dennis-Yarmouth teachers and students, who said they felt honored and captivated by his appearance.
''We need to use this as a teachable moment," Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi said yesterday. ''We need to make sure our students . . . clearly understand that sometimes individuals might elaborate stories or examples for their own benefit."
And that sometimes some grownups believe everything they hear that supports other wrong ideas they have. Teachers, reporters...
Why would they want to believe?
Edwards was on leave visiting family when he appeared Nov. 23 in the school cafeteria at a teacher's invitation. The Cape Cod Times reported that Edwards criticized Bush's invasion of Iraq as a ''personal vendetta" to complete President George H.W. Bush's unfinished work against Saddam Hussein. ''The first Bush couldn't get it done, so it's time for the next Bush to do it," the Times quoted Edwards as saying in the talk.
In an interview later, the Times reported, Edwards said that ''we went over there for one reason, and because that fell through we're stuck over there for another reason." Edwards, who served in Iraq from August 2003 to March of this year, said US officials had not planned well for the mission.
They'll probably still cling to that part though.
UPDATE: How did I miss this the first time?: "His confession has also saddened Dennis-Yarmouth teachers and students, who said they felt honored and captivated by his appearance."
The admission that no ten-year-old boy was killed has saddened them?
Go vote for him in the Weblog awards. (And thanks to all of you who already have.)
Note: Seems Kevin has gotten a little saavy and has put in a spam blocker.
New to the Blogosphere? I can't imagine a better way to learn about it than from Omar at Iraq the Model who explains the whole right/left political division of blogs, and how it relates it to Iraq.
It was really confusing to me in the beginning that liberals would not support the change in Iraq (remember we were isolated so we didn't know much about that) even though they were against Bush, as it's over now and any humanist should (in my mind) support democracy and peace in Iraq. Besides, I've always considered myself a liberal! On the other side, I had a bad impression that many of the people on the right were fanatics and racist! How much did we learn in this year!
See you later. I mean, new to blogs or not you know you're going to go read it all, right?
By the way, I, a GI in Iraq, voted for Iraq the Model in the contest he references. Ponder that one.
Oh, and us MilBloggers don't get much attention from those lefty bloggers either.
Update: Right Wing News has some insight into the American left thinking on Iraq. These examples might be extreme, but I suspect not rare. That's a shame.
Greetings from Iraq! First off to the millions of you who are concerned, rest assured, as I write this, my personal armor is within arm's reach.
Yesterday we noted this general truism:
"The U.S. military has always been perfectly trained and equipped to win the last war".
And the specific Murphy's law that shows why it doesn't matter anyway:
"No plan survives first contact with the enemy."
And the relationship of these to the "armor" issue, through this third fact that overwhelms them both:
"So for now, at least, enough of a shred of American "can-do" attitude and perseverance survives to ensure that the truism stated above remains only a minor inconvenience."
Today I find Steve Hayward illustrating the concept in The Corner:
The news yesterday of soldiers challenging Rumsfeld about the lack of armor, spare parts, etc, brought back to mind many of my father's WWII stories, where, as a long-range reconnaisance and sub-hunting Navy pilot in the South Pacific starting in 1942, spare parts were in such short supply that he routinely looked for downed planes they could scrounge spare parts from, sometimes even behind enemy lines in New Ginuea. Nobody complained about it; they just got by. Actually, he got a commendation for ingenuity; maybe these folks in Kuwait should get a similar commendation.
Also, because his squadron had to fly missions of up to 30 hours, flying from northern Australia as far as the Chinese coast to track Japanese fleet movements, they often removed much of the heavy armor on the belly of their planes to extend their fuel range, with the obvious trade off of higher risk. Oh, his entire sqaudron also got their tours extended more than once.
But of course that's different, somehow...
Then here's another comment from the same Tennessee Guard unit as the young Specialist who quizzed the Secretary of Defense, as quoted by the very reporter who fed him that question:
"They (insurgents) are trying to attack weak convoys, not strong convoys," said Staff Sgt. Brian Culberson, 28, of Cleveland, Tenn.
He said soldiers scrounging for extra armor are not unique to this war. He recently saw a magazine article about units in Vietnam scavenging steel for their vehicles.
"They had the same problem with convoys getting hit with guerrilla warfare," Sgt. Culberson said. "The odds of us getting hit are pretty slim, but it is still an odd."
Scrounging is a time honored military tradition. You're not handed everything you need, and certainly nowhere near everything you want. (And with time comes additional needs - see Murphy's law). Overcoming shortages can be characterized as ingenuity on the part of the individual or failure on the part of the government. Sound familiar? Certainly the military doesn't have propriety of the concept.
There is an element of the victimization in the current lefty portrayal of this issue. People shouldn't have to do what the government should do for them! Small wonder that entitlement is the page they've chosen from their rather limited playbook on this one.
Having noted all that, I say without hesitation or qualification that yes, the government should do everything possible to assure as much protective gear gets to those of us in harm's way as is possible. Along with lethal offensive gear that tends to reduce threat too. Oh, and food, clothing, fuel, spare parts, communications systems, mail...
But I digress. Let's stick with armor for a moment. It's one of the issues that has seen phenomenal improvement over the past couple of years. Anyone recall seeing pictures of troops in body armor prior to OIF? Not likely - it wasn't in widespread use.
Likewise a second "defensive" area of rapid progress has been medical care. Combat units include "combat lifesavers", all troops get training in "self aid and buddy care", fully trained medics are near by and near-state-of-the-art facilities are found increasingly closer to the battlefields. Larger facilities are available in theater, airlift is readily available, and a system exists to get those who need it to Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany or stateside hospitals in rapid time - sometimes measured in hours rather than days.
Good old American ingenuity in action! And what has this "can-do attitude and American Know how" brought us, on the battlefield and in the media? The combination of improved personal armor and medical care has resulted in a greater percentage of survivors of wounds, as the Washington Post notes in a story headlined U.S. Combat Fatality Rate Lowest Ever:
Technology and Surgical Care at the Front Lines Is Credited With Saving Lives
Ten percent of soldiers injured in Iraq have died from their war wounds, the lowest casualty fatality rate ever, thanks in large part to technological advances and the deployment of surgical SWAT teams at the front lines, an analysis to be published today has found.
There's an unfortunate tradeoff, however:
But the remarkable lifesaving rate has come at the enormous cost of creating a generation of severely wounded young veterans and a severe shortage of military surgeons, wrote Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
But witness the "no win" situation that the some in the press engineer, as evidenced in the Boston Globe's treatment of the same story:
Amputation Rate For US Troops Twice That Of Past Wars
Doctors cite need for prosthetics as more lives saved
US troops injured in Iraq have required limb amputations at twice the rate of past wars, and as many as 20 percent have suffered head and neck injuries that may require a lifetime of care, according to new data giving the clearest picture yet of the severity of battlefield wounds.
The data are the grisly flip side of improvements in battlefield medicine that have saved many combatants who would have died in the past: Only 1 in 10 US troops injured in Iraq has died, the lowest rate of any war in US history.
But those who survive have much more grievous wounds. Bulletproof Kevlar vests protect soldiers' bodies but not their limbs, as insurgent snipers and makeshift bombs tear off arms and legs and rip into faces and necks. More than half of those injured sustain wounds so serious they cannot return to duty, according to Pentagon statistics.
Bottom line: for some the only thing worse than troops in danger for lack of armor is troops who survived because of armor.
Guess we'll just have to pack up and go home.
While some 278th soldiers were pleased about the prospect of a plane ride into Iraq, others said they didn't want to miss the ground convoy's adrenaline rush.
"That would be like going to Disney World and not riding the roller coaster," said Capt. Chris Brock, 43, human resources officer for Support Squadron.
Seems like the heirs of Davey Crockett aren't lacking courage, or a sense of history:
Soldiers are traveling into an Iraq where insurgents attack with homemade bombs placed along the roads.
"They (insurgents) are trying to attack weak convoys, not strong convoys," said Staff Sgt. Brian Culberson, 28, of Cleveland, Tenn.
He said soldiers scrounging for extra armor are not unique to this war. He recently saw a magazine article about units in Vietnam scavenging steel for their vehicles.
"They had the same problem with convoys getting hit with guerrilla warfare," Sgt. Culberson said. "The odds of us getting hit are pretty slim, but it is still an odd."
The reporter who covered the unit, and wrote the above story, is Edward Lee Pitts. According to Drudge, Pitts, who writes for the Greeneville (Tn.) Sun also planted the notorious "dumpster diving" question for Secretary Rumsfeld.
I just had one of my best days as a journalist today. As luck would have it, our journey North was delayed just long enough see I could attend a visit today here by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.
So during the Q&A session, one of my guys was the second person called on. When he asked Rumsfeld why after two years here soldiers are still having to dig through trash bins to find rusted scrap metal and cracked ballistic windows for their Humvees, the place erupted in cheers so loud that Rumsfeld had to ask the guy to repeat his question. Then Rumsfeld answered something about it being "not a lack of desire or money but a logistics/physics problem." He said he recently saw about 8 of the special up-armored Humvees guarding Washington, DC, and he promised that they would no longer be used for that and that he would send them over here. Then he asked a three star general standing behind him, the commander of all ground forces here, to also answer the question. The general said it was a problem he is working on.
Pitts goes on to detail at length the attention shown by national media to "his troops". His worship and awe of the heroism of the national reporters is obvious from his email in the Drudge link - clearly this man knows his heroes when he sees them - though he's not afraid to draw lines in the sand. (Emphasis added below.)
The NY Times reporter asked me to email him the stories I had already done on it, but I said he could search for them himself on the Internet and he better not steal any of my lines. I have been trying to get this story out for weeks- as soon as I foud (sic) out I would be on an unarmored truck - and my paper published two stories on it. But it felt good to hand it off to the national press.
Too bad those "national press" guys didn't have time or space to publish the whole story of the exchange between the SecDef and Spc. Thomas Wilson:
Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. My question is more logistical. We?ve had troops in Iraq for coming up on three years and we?ve always staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromise ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don?t we have those resources readily available to us? [Applause]
Actually it's coming up on two years, but who's counting? It's been such a roller coaster ride it seems like three years. Anyhow, here's the Secretary's reply in full:
SEC. RUMSFELD: I talked to the General coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they?re not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I?m told that they are being ? the Army is ? I think it?s something like 400 a month are being done. And it?s essentially a matter of physics. It isn?t a matter of money. It isn?t a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It?s a matter of production and capability of doing it.
As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They?re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time. Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe ? it?s a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously, but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment.
I can assure you that General Schoomaker and the leadership in the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable for it to have, but that they?re working at it at a good clip. It?s interesting, I?ve talked a great deal about this with a team of people who?ve been working on it hard at the Pentagon. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored humvee and it can be blown up. And you can go down and, the vehicle, the goal we have is to have as many of those vehicles as is humanly possible with the appropriate level of armor available for the troops. And that is what the Army has been working on.
And General Whitcomb, is there anything you?d want to add to that?
GEN. WHITCOMB: Nothing. [Laughter] Mr. Secretary, I?d be happy to. That is a focus on what we do here in Kuwait and what is done up in the theater, both in Iraq and also in Afghanistan. As the secretary has said, it?s not a matter of money or desire; it is a matter of the logistics of being able to produce it. The 699th, the team that we?ve got here in Kuwait has done [Cheers] a tremendous effort to take that steel that they have and cut it, prefab it and put it on vehicles. But there is nobody from the president on down that is not aware that this is a challenge for us and this is a desire for us to accomplish.
?It's all about duty, and he felt compelled to be over there,? she said. She said both she and her ex-husband voted for Bush in November and support him ?100%.?
But both she and Spc. Wilson's current girlfriend agree that Rumsfeld seemed "caught off guard" by the question. It's not known whether they've seen or read his actual response, or if they're victims of coverage like that produced in the NY Times:
Spc. Thomas Wilson had asked Rumsfeld, ``Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?'' Shouts of approval and applause arose from other soldiers who had assembled in an aircraft hangar to see Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.
``We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north,'' Wilson, 31, of Nashville, Tenn., concluded after asking again.
``You go to war with the Army you have,'' Rumsfeld replied, ``not the Army you might want or wish to have.''
Please help with this easy request. Feel free to copy and paste
instead of link.
Specialist David Mahlenbrock was killed by an IED on December 3rd in
I received this email. It's from David's Squad in Bravo,
65th Engineers in Iraq and they are forwarding a request from David.
It appears that David had a special letter sent to his squad in the
event of his death. He wanted Toby Keith's "American Soldier" played
at his funeral:
Dear 1st Squad,
If you're reading this, then I've died for our country. I just
hope it wasn't for nothing.
After the IED went off yesterday, I wanted to write this in case
something happens to me. There are a few more letters that I'd like
you to give my wife and family.
I'd like to have a military funeral, but, if you can work please
make sure that Toby Keith's "American Soldier" is played at the
ceremony in addition to the bagpipes. If they won't let it happen,
that's ok, thanks for trying?...
I know that all the belongings I have here will go to Melissa,
but there are a few more things I'd like for you guys to make sure she
gets. I have a dog tag w/ our picture on it along w/ some pictures
and an American flag in my left breast pocket. There is also a can
that says "Son" on it that Melissa's parents gave me that I'd like for
them to have, and that angel stone should go to her grandma and
Now if I died w/ blue eyes (one blew that way and one blew the
other way) and there's nothing really left of me, that's ok, I know
you meant well.
Alright, enough with the dead guy's last request, there's a lot
of thank you's I wanna say to you fellas??
David will be laid to rest in Arlington on Wednesday, December 15th at 10AM EST.
David's family and friends are trying to get help mobilizing radio
stations to play the song "American Soldier", dedicated to David, on
Wednesday December 15th at 1PM EST.
I would appreciate it if you could encourage your readers to call and
email radio stations to play Toby Keith's "American Soldier" -
dedicated to Specialist David Mahlenbrock - at 1PM EST on Wednesday
Lance Corporal Kyle Renehan, the brother of Spencer Renehan (SadLonelyGeek) passed this morning of complications from his wounds. We pray for his family. *****************************************
Come to me, sweet warrior.
Take me by the hand.
Follow me to quiet places
in a quiet land.
Sleep in fields of emerald
beside the quiet sea.
Feel the sun upon your face
and stay awhile with me.
I followed you to battle, son,
and helped to calm your fears,
and laughed with you in happy times
and brushed away your tears.
I shielded you with tender wings
when you were very small,
staying close across the miles
after duty's call.
Come to me, sweet warrior.
Take me by the hand.
Follow me to quiet places
in a quiet land.
Walk with those who came before
beside the quiet sea.
Feel the mists upon your face
and stay awhile with me.
Gone's the time of duty now,
your battle has been won,
and brothers wait to welcome you
beneath a rising sun.
Take my hand, we'll go to them
it's where you need to be,
a land of gentle warriors
each one, USMC.
Come to me, sweet warrior.
Take me by the hand.
Follow me to quiet places
in a quiet land.
Walk amongst your brothers here
beside the quiet sea.
Feel the warmth of heaven's grace
and stay awhile with me.
-Lila Meyer, Dec 9, 2004
No wait, here's more! The desired image the reporters on this issue want to evoke in your mind is one of American troops at the mercy of terrorists, going into a hail of bullets and rockets (think Fallujah) sans protection. That is the popular vision of Iraq in the media, even though that level of violence represents the situatiuon in a tiny part of this country. If combat is the destination of these troops, and if what the young man says is true, then somewhere someone didn't get the memo. That "someone" was not Don Rumsfeld, nor was it President Bush, who in fact wrote said memo. Who "someone" was should be found out. Believe it or not, between Congress and contractors and the Pentagon and delivery systems and grunts in the field there are some weak links in the military supply chain (stifle those gasps!) and that is as inevitable as it is inexcusable.
Yes, it would be satisfying to see some incompetent clown shown the door as a result of this episode, and that might happen, but the system is big beyond any single human's ability to control (yes - even the President of the United States!) the odds of anyone guilty being punished are about equal to the odds of some scapegoat getting the shaft. It's also likely that "someone" won't be found, because it's possible that "someone" doesn't exist.
Ignoring for now the slogan chanters and political partisans, there are a few key points to keep in mind. I will now try to explain to you why this whole situation seems dramatic to those outside looking in and complaining, and less so to those who are doing the best they can to fix the unfixable.
An anonymous quote worth knowing: "The U.S. military has always been perfectly trained and equipped to win the last war".
This painful truth was probably never more evident then in 1990-91 when virtually every piece of equipment in the inventory had to be re-painted from German forest green to a Saddam-inspired tan. The task was accomplished though, and U.S. forces made short work of what was until then the world's 5th largest army.
So for now, at least, enough of a shred of American "can-do" attitude and perseverance survives to ensure that the truism stated above remains only a minor inconvenience. As further evidence of our ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome, when 'bunker-busting' bombs were needed in the first Gulf War they went from drawing board to the desert in approximately 17 days, arriving "too hot to handle" by the waiting ground crews.
A bit of evidence to the contrary though, (or support to the "last war" theory), could be the current state of affairs in Iraq. Many argue that the military proved to be an irrestable invasion force (per 1991 doctrine) that was completely unprepared for the resulting chaotic lack of surviving government infrastructure and the insurgency that has been an often-deadly thorn in the side of progress here. But add that progress is now made in a political/military balancing act (see Fallujah, April through November) and few (none of sound mind) would fault the military completely for any shortfalls.
But here a second painful truth comes into play. "No plan survives first contact with the enemy." It's one of Murphy's Laws of Combat, though Mackubin Thomas Owens relates the actual origin of the phrase here, giving the original quote from Helmuth von Moltke, chief of the Prussian general staff some hundred-plus odd years ago. Von Moltke is often credited with the paraphrasing of his actual quote that is more commonly used today. But given this rule, it's often amusing to hear criticism of the Iraq conflict that includes the phrase "didn't have a plan..." for war, peace or otherwise.
By all means, lets make the supply system better, faster, and more flexible - but lets do so in a way that gets us ready to win the next war. But a caution to those who cry out urging the military to remake itself to fight the current Iraq war, whether by re-defining the role of the Guard/Reserve or other large-scale force structure efforts: Be certain you aren't demanding that the U.S. military strictly adhere to painful truth number one above. In other words, to start preparring now to win the conflict in Iraq - a conflict that will soon be winding down. (See Owen's piece, and imagine the current situation as paralleling the allied approach to the Rhine.)
On the other hand, to those who think that planning now to win the Iraq war is a problem, I offer painful truth number two, which just shows that painful truth number one doesn't matter.
As long as the paragraph about "can-do" attitude and perseverance above remains true. That, by the way, was the key point of the whole discussion. But you knew that when you read it, didn't you?
Sorry for the unsolicited blog recommendation. Strong and Free
Laurie Hawn is a friend of mine. He is a retired CF18 Hornet jockey and squadron commander (actually he was the first Canadian to qualify in a CF18), the former 2ic at CFB Cold Lake, and the Conservative candidate who came within 700 votes of defeating Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan in the last election.
He has considerable expertise in military affairs and Canadian politics, a flare with language, and an unlimited supply of relevant Churchill quotes. I think you will like his blog.
Lately he has written on:
And, they are surprised, why? On the Senate and military spending
Much Ado About Much Ado On the BMD
Remembering On the personal meaning of Remembrance day.
What's in a 'Dis'? On the Canadian military
I think you will find him worth reading. He might even qualify for milblogs.
A regular reader.
Well, Victor Vitor Veetor, I'll have to agree and add that your site's worth a visit as well.
Did you really believe we?re too stupid to see,
How you tried to deceive us with smug sophistry?
Did you actually think we?d accept without thinking,
That our ship of state?s hulled, our economy?s sinking?
We saw how with help from your media tools,
You picked just the right captain for your ship of fools.
With your Cambodian Admiral at the helm of your boat
You needed an ocean of lies just to keep him afloat.
You put forward no spokesman with a true honest voice
And offered the voters no acceptable choice.
Your party got ?jacked? by the loons on the left,
And the rest of you?ve yet to wake up to the theft.
You let billionaire bandits with a bolshevik whiff,
Take your ?Ride? for a drive that went straight off the cliff.
So, do you now blame your loss on these crazies and flakes?
Nope, by Jove, it was Rove, must?ve messed with the brakes.
Even now that you?ve lost, you refuse to accept,
That your party?s outdated and its leaders inept.
The election is over, and with your masquerades falling
The true you we see is truly appalling.
You?ve nothing but scorn for true faith and belief
Holding up Christianity as some election year thief.
Your apostasy?s clear to those blacks and hispanics,
Who, next time around, just may be your Titanics.
So now as you sit contemplating your fate,
Sipping modest chablis, camembé²´ on your plate,
Just remember your failure in sowing false fears,
And let this burn in your brains for four more long years:
Even owning the press and controlling the tube,
You got your butts whipped by an? ol? Texas rube.
So, keep pondering this ?til your brains are all numbed
Rove didn?t outsmart you; you were smartly out-dumbed
That?s gonna stick in your craws ?til you?re forced to disgorge,
All you smart liberal wienies just got out-dumbed, by George.
Proud Red State Retard and former Democrat ?til they made me a political homeless person and the Republicans offered shelter.
The poem above was inpired by the rereading of this letter I sent to the editor of the San Antonio Express-News back during the election, and which, to my utter amazement, they published:
Out-Dumbing the Dems
Good heavens, may wonders never cease! I just read a Jan Jarboe (South Texas Ultralib) column and found myself agreeing with her. Her advice to Democrats that George Bush is not the dummy they think he is reminds me of a good ol? boy from South Alabama who once worked for me. We were making a product presentation to a military procurement officer who was extremely full of himself and patronizing to us as civilian marketers, talking down to us as if we were entirely ignorant of the system. Offended by his condescension, I thought of explaining that we were intimately familiar with the proper procedures but then thought better of it. It was, after all, my salesman?s account, so I should let him handle it.
For thirty minutes he sat there in wide-eyed awe, hanging on to every word of this pompous buffoon?s detailed explication of military procurement, interrupting with only an occasional, ?Wow,? or ?Gee, so that?s how it?s done.? Knowing my guy was a senior Reserve Navy officer and intimately familiar with this whole process I just sat there and bit my tongue.
When we finally got out in the parking lot, with an order even larger than we had sought, I said, ?Jim, why on earth did you put up with that blowhard, like that?? To which he winked, waved the order forms and drawled,
?Hey, Boss, sometimes you just gotta out-dumb ?em.?
Ain?t it the truth? Just ask Ann Richards. Or Al Gore. (And now John Kerry.)
Liberal Democrats love chants; so I have a brand spanking new one for them: Two! Four! Six! Eight! Never Misunderestimate!
It seems a few lefty types thought they'd struck upon a fine idea: create a blog, then email a bunch of center/right bloggers to attempt to bring the crowds to their site. I especially enjoyed this post there:
Vehicles in New Jersey are covered with decals representing little ribbons inscribed with the legend: ?Support Our Troops.? I have done a lot of driving recently and have noticed geographical disparities in the distribution of these symbols. There are fewer in the Midwest and very few at all in the LA area. They are also disproportionately displayed on SUVs and vans, which isn?t surprising given that the owners are disproportionately reliant on the oil supplies that our soldiers are in Iraq to protect (among their other purposes).
What is it exactly that these decals exhort us to do? How can I, or anyone, support the troops themselves? What can we possibly do for them? It seems that the message is really an exhortation to support the war.
...since it sums up so nicely the vacant American Left position on virtually everything. "I'm not aware of something, therefore it doesn't exist. Discovery is beyond my capability."
Of course, the authors solicited links, as I said, so there is a small possibility that the post reflects nothing of the author's mindset and is merely designed to draw comments. If so it did quite well, with over 100 as of now, including an early one that's a fine take down from Joe Katzman of Winds of Change, who saved me much effort.
Joe's comment begins "Hmm. Just got an email from Left2Right" and goes on to exceed the quality of anything else written on the site. (Except maybe the Dean Esmay comment a little further down) But those so inclined can read the original post and all the comments for some insight to the current mind of the left regarding "support the troops".
It all just brings to mind the lack of lefty support for anysoldier.com, in spite of Michael Moore encouragement that I documented here, or the complete absence of lefty blogs from any of the SoA challenge teams or individuals found here. (To be clear, SoA, of course, helps in the rebuilding of Iraq - so I suppose lefty support of that effort is out of the question too.)
I expect these same folks might drop a few spare quarters into the hat for Jeremy Hinzman, but When it comes to "support" from the left, as with so many other things, the lights are on but nobody's home.
A Soldier's Life After Iraq is actually A Blog by the wife of a Senior Airman in the Air Force Reserves, who returned last April from a rotation at Balad Air Base in Iraq
Just after the attacks on Sept 11th, Eric (my hubby), was eagerly anticipating a phone call from the USMC for a recall. He was finishing up his 4 yrs of inactive reserves. When a few weeks went by and no call came he started calling recruiters wanting to know if and when he would be called up. The said he probably wouldnt be. Then he wanted to reinlist in the marines for another 4 yrs. (he really wanted to go kick some osama butt) After discussing it with me, I of course caved and ok'd it. He went down to the recruters office and after weeks of waiting and paperwork processing etc they recruiter finally told him basically "look we have so many new recruits already; for the marines to take you back you would have to drop rank" Eric was pretty upset about that.
Then he saw a commercial on the tv for the air force. He called them and they were very excited and interested to have him being a marine and all. He could keep his rank and they even gave him a sign on bonus! No disrespect to the marines we still love them, but they can be bull headed. The reserves allowed him to serve the country he loves "one weekend a month two weeks a year". while he still would have preferred active duty the closest base to us was only a reserve base (without uprooting the whole family and moving) that is what he chose.
After two years and no deployments I was pretty comfortable with the situation.
Then two weeks before thanksgiving he was told to make ready and given a 3 page list of items to go out and purchase.
Skipping forward a bit, this from the blog's description:
Soldier returns from serving in Balad Iraq, only to be fired from his civilian employer because of his military duties. Shortly after, while on orders to fort gordon his leg is broken requiring a rod, plate and 6 screws to put back together. Line of duty orders are cancelled due to technicality, eliminating families income. Stop/Loss furthers family heartache as soldier gets ready to deploy agian shortly.
Anyone hiring OIF vets in Georgia? More here.
Mudville readers were first introduced to U.S. Army deserter Jeremy Hinzman here last February Hinzman, an active duty soldier, fled his post rather than deploy to Iraq.
Michelle Malkin offers an update:
But there is a Michael Moore-sized distinction between Hinzman and the thousands of ?resisters? who fled to Canada during the Vietnam War. Unlike the American draft dodgers who crossed the northern border more than three decades ago, Hinzman volunteered for military service in January 2001. He joined of his own free will. Nobody forced him to go to the recruitment office. Nobody dragged him to Fort Bragg.
He happily cashed in his Army paychecks until deployment to Afghanistan was imminent. After his application for conscientious-objector status was rejected, he grudgingly finished his stint in Afghanistan, declared opposition to the coming war in Iraq, packed up his wife and infant son, and waltzed into the open arms of Toronto's radical leftists.
It's been one big pacifist kumbayah ever since -- a dazzling procession of campus tributes, rock-star galas, and international media martyrdom. And when he's not on his tour of self-promotional duty, Hinzman and his wife (a feminist social worker who has also applied for asylum in Canada) are savoring the good life in their newly adopted home. Hinzman reports on his own snazzy Web site:In the mornings, we usually take (son) Liam to various playgroups in our neighborhood. In the afternoon, we alternate which one of us cooks dinner. I also try to go for a run while Liam naps. In the evening we play with our son and often go to various parts of Toronto and 'people watch' to get Liam out of the house. After he goes to sleep for the night, I try to read or Nga (Hinzman's wife) and I watch a movie or do various other things. A great deal of this routine, or lack thereof, will probably soon change after I get a work permit and find some sort of employment.
Hinzman is enjoying his domestic tranquility on the backs of each and every American military man and woman who is living up to his or her commitment to uphold a sworn oath of duty. Hinzman and his lawyer plan to argue to Canadian immigration officials that American soldiers are guilty of war crimes and that forcing Hinzman to fight in Iraq would have likely made him a war criminal. Among the witnesses testifying on Hinzman's behalf is former U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey, the Winter Soldier of the 21st century, who claims his platoon killed ?a bunch of innocent civilians.? Massey has been making the rounds in the French media and other America-hating swamps.
Talk about an understatement! The Washington Post details Massey's testimony in a report headlined Former Marine Testifies To Atrocities In Iraq. Bear in mind as you read this that Massey and Hinzman are from separate branches of service, and Massey's testimony is just to establish the "fact" that Hinzman would have been compelled to commit the same sort of acts Massey claims he himself did.
TORONTO, Dec. 7 -- A former U.S. Marine staff sergeant testified at a hearing Tuesday that his unit killed at least 30 unarmed civilians in Iraq during the war in 2003 and that Marines routinely shot and killed wounded Iraqis.
Jimmy J. Massey, a 12-year veteran, said he left Iraq in May 2003 after a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress. He said he and his men shot and killed four Iraqis staging a demonstration and a man with his hands up trying to surrender, as well as women and children at roadblocks. Massey said he had complained to his superiors about the "killing of innocent civilians," but that nothing was done.
Massey, 33, of Waynesville, N.C., was the chief witness at a refugee board hearing for a U.S. Army deserter, Jeremy Hinzman, who is attempting to win asylum in Canada after he fled from Fort Bragg, N.C., rather than go to Iraq. Hinzman, 25, the first of at least three U.S. military deserters to apply for asylum here, argues that he refused to go to Iraq to avoid committing war crimes.
In Washington, a Marine Corps spokesman at the Pentagon said Massey's charges had been investigated and were unproved.
"We take such allegations very seriously," said Maj. Douglas Powell. "And Jimmy Massey, who is a former staff sergeant, out of the Corps, has made these statements before in the press. They've been looked into, and nothing has been substantiated."
During one 48-hour period, Massey said under oath, his platoon set up roadblocks and killed "30-plus" civilians. He said his men, fearing suicide bombers, poured massive firepower into cars that did not stop as they approached the roadblocks. In each instance, he said, none of the cars was found to have contained explosives or arms.
"Why didn't the Iraqis stop? That is something that has plagued me every waking moment of the day," he said. He said they may have been confused by the Americans' gestures or thought that a warning shot was celebratory gunfire.
"I don't know if the Iraqi people thought we were celebrating their newfound freedom. But I do know we killed innocent civilians," Massey said. In one case, the driver of a car leaped out with his hands up. "But we kept firing. We killed him," Massey said. In another case, he and other Marines shot and killed four protesters near a checkpoint after a single incoming gunshot from an unknown source, he said. None of the protesters was found with arms.
Then this fact near the bottom of the story (emphasis added):
The government won a ruling that the legality of the Iraq war could not be an issue at the refugee hearing. But Hinzman's attorney, Jeffry House, has introduced testimonials and human rights reports to support Hinzman's claim that he would have been forced to violate the Geneva Conventions in Iraq.
Some of Hinzman's supporters, including House, are Vietnam-era draft dodgers. They compare Massey's testimony to the disclosure of the My Lai massacre of civilians in Vietnam.
But it's mostly this stuff you see pictured to the left. (If you're like me you accumulate a ton of change while traveling anyway - I don't know why that is. Maybe I just notice it more since I have to take it with me through airport metal detectors.) These, however, are what the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) gives you instead of metal coins at forward deployed locations. They're called "gift certificates" - but they're the smallest such denominations you'll ever see, with 5, 10 and 25 cent versions. They're cardboard pogs, and I don't keep them in my pocket because they'd just get destroyed, so the damn things just accumulate on my desk.
We recently had a visit from this group - a funny bunch of guys who lifted the spirits of all those present. Comedian Tom Irwin had already worked the coins into his routine. Something like this: "I went into the Exchange, bought something, and for change they gave me this. (Holds up pogs) What the hell is this? 'That's money' they told me. 'You can spend it at all AAFES locations.' So the next time I bought something I wrote "5 dollars" on a piece of cardboard and handed it to the cashier. 'Keep the change' I said."
But anyhow - the 'coins' do make sense, they're lighter and thinner than U.S. coins and therefore easier to transport in bulk. And in a place where transport is among the most dangerous activities you can engage in, that matters. But like I said, for the individual GI these things just tend to accumulate during the tour.
So the bottom line is I need to get rid of these future collector's items. So like a dutiful husband I'm sending this money home to the wife. Like a typical wife she's going to spend it, and here's how. Anyone who donates to Spirit of America via clicking the link below, then e-mails her (email@example.com) proof of said donation and a mailing address will be sent some of the Greyhawk fortune. Minimum 20 dollar donation to SoA to qualify, and offer expires when supplies are exhausted. Already donated via the link? By all means, send your request to Mrs G. Allow a few weeks for delivery, offer void where prohibited, etc etc etc.
We're not just in the Military Blog category! There are MilBloggers hidden throughout the 2004 Weblog Awards. And here is where you'll find them:
Let me know if I missed any.
Revisiting some recent stories.
If not for Cub Scouts in Houston, Army Spc. Joseph Lowit would find it next to impossible to celebrate Hanukkah.
As part of a service project, Pack 1190 from Congregation Emanu El prepared care packages with Hanukkah candles, menorahs and dreidels ? giving Spc. Lowit and 150 other troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait a way to mark the holiday.
"Thanks to them I can, and I am very grateful," wrote Spc. Lowit, a 26-year-old infantryman from Miami who is the only Jewish soldier on his base in Iraq.
The boys of Pack 1190 talked about what it might be like to be a Jewish soldier at Hanukkah and decided to make greeting cards and assemble goody bags for troops.
"I thought it was a worthy cause because ... it was giving greetings to people without any family to celebrate," said 8-year-old Jordan Todes, who crafted many of the cards from construction paper.
Two Scout musicians ? Jarrett Taxman on guitar and Mitchell Chaiet on the cello ? played classical tunes outside a Houston bagel shop to raise money for Hanukkah supplies and toiletry items such as razors for the troops' care packages.
"There's some Jewish troops in Iraq that are maybe the only ones in their unit," Jarrett, 11, said. "It's really hard to celebrate if you're the only one. I'm just really glad I could help."
The ACLU, as readers here are aware, is demanding military installations stop sponsoring Scout groups because of the requirement for Scout members to have religious faith of some sort.
Don't know if these guys were ever Scouts or not, but the Army has decided to offer 'Article 15s' (Non-Judicial Punishment) to the troops who refused to convoy in Iraq recently:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 6 - The American military has ordered punishment, but not courts-martial, for 23 Army Reserve soldiers who refused in October to deliver fuel to a base in Iraq, claiming that it was too dangerous, military officials here said Monday.
The soldiers are receiving nonjudicial punishments under Article 15 of the military justice code, which could include reduction in rank, loss of pay and restricted movements depending on their commander's discretion, said Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, a military spokesman.
Article 15 punishment can be quote harsh, to say the least.
And last but not least,
KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 7 -- Three years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan's first popularly elected president, Hamid Karzai, was sworn in Tuesday in a dignified, heavily guarded ceremony attended by hundreds of Afghan and foreign guests, including Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld, of course, was an Eagle Scout.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT'S PEARL HARBOR SPEECH
(December 8, 1941)
To the Congress of the United States:
Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message.
While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.
The title actually dates back a few years, but it was an honor to be asked to judge the contest. Results here. Being a nice guy I passed on those overrated/annoying categories. Interesting to see so many folks turn their backs on Andrew Sullivan.
So it goes.
Dogblogger awards now, that I'd like to see...
Hugh Hewitt may be much younger than 50 but he is wise beyond his years, having the clarity of vision to grant Aquila to the MilBloggers. I leave it to others to devise a new MilBlogs banner using an eagle and the constellation to mark the occasion. Working in the phrase(s) "The right-wing constellation of blogs and talk radio" or "some petitions carry more weight than others" would be a bonus.
Via her commenting fans:
Cassandra found herself drawn inexplicably to The City, to Barboursville Street, a street of lovers, dreamers and mimes, bookstores, and the site of the closed Egyptian bakery, Farouk's Souk and Pastry Nook. She looked down at the fading red stain next to a broken piece of sidewalk, and rememered why the corporate headquarters of I Love Jet Noise was able to get such a deal on the place – that was the very location where the Bush/Cheney sign had sliced Brett’s Kerry/Edwards button in two, before it pierced his heart. Pedestrians habitually crossed to the other side of the street since that fateful night, to avoid walking through the scene of the carnage. Now it was boarded up again, a forlorn “Experienced Blogger Wanted” sign blowing in the stiff breeze. Barboursville Street was steamy, muggy, sultry back then, when passions boiled over and Samson, Brett and Delilah all met their maker in an eruption of jealousy, unrequited love, and political mischief. Now, a chill wind tugged at Cassandra’s Burberry rain mac, exposing the plaid lining and revealing to anyone who knows High Street in London, that she had not thought twice about the purchase of the pricey coat and matching plaid scarf and purse – she was a Blogger, after all – and price was no object.
She gazed down Barboursville Steet, a street infamous for its speedbumps, and something about them made her think of her fans, the little people who made their little comments about her big ideas, her fans, sitting around watching the comment section of her final post, hoping for her to change her mind, her fans, watching the test pattern, talking amongst themselves, her fans, geeks with no lives.
Suddenly, a shot rang out!
- Posted by: MathMom at December 2, 2004 11:48 PM
As Cassandra ducked, she blessed her Unit for teaching her how to respond in such situations.
However, such shots were routine to her, and the smell of powder from the snark cannon took her back...oh lawsy me how she longed to retort!
- Posted by: Cricket at December 3, 2004 01:21 AM
As she ducked, Cassandra realized that she had retained some helpful habits from her days as an internationally respected and sought-after blogger - she still wore her L.L. Bean footed flanned blogging pajamas under the Burberry, so the cold blast that searched for her nether regions was only partially reminscent of her childhood days back on the farm as she ran, in winter, to the "little room" out back, and tried desperately to keep from freezing to the seat.
- Posted by: MathMom at December 3, 2004 07:57 AM
In that 'little room' out back, she would take her laptop and blog away, unknown to her family and friends that she was the man in pajamas in the little room.
- Posted by: Cricket at December 3, 2004 09:06 AM
Laughing helplessly at her insane readers, she decided to unveil her new blog, even though there's not much up there yet, CSS has just about driven her insane, there are undoubtedly things that don't work too well, and it's not really done yet:
- Posted by: Cassandra at December 3, 2004 09:41 AM
And in that compromising position, Cassandra was reminded of her father's oft-repeated remonstration, "$&@% or get off the pot!", and with those words seared, seared into her memory, she consulted Google's language tools to translate the title to her final post: "au", meaning "with", and "revoir" meaning "to re-examine", and since "with to re-examine" didn't really sound the note she was trying to play, she started to blog anew, at Villainous Company, knowing darkly that more snark-cannons were likely to be fired.
- Posted by: MathMom at December 3, 2004 10:01 AM
- Posted by: Cricket at December 3, 2004 11:43 AM
And those are just some of her many commenters. Go there, read, blogroll, and enjoy.
Joe Katzman directs our attention to a an excellent article at Winds of Change titled Milstuff for Dummies: Force Structure. The piece explores the transformation of the U.S. military from cold war era to current formulation, coincidentally the period of my military service - so a topic on which I've got insider knowledge. Author Tim Oren however, is a non-military type, and thus presents the information for fellow civilians, and does it well.
An outstanding introduction to the theory of operations for the current force. "Total Force" concepts (use of Guard and Reserve components as crucial elements of the US military) have been evolving steadily throughout the post-Vietnam era - through multiple administrations of both political parties. Though not addressed directly in the Winds link, recent implications that the Guard and Reserve are being (mis)used in a manner in which they were never intended are a source of great frustration to those who recognize that their current role in the war on terror is in fact exactly what they have been designed to do for at least the past two decades.
I get the impression that Winds plans to present additional efforts explaining the ongoing transformation of the US military to the citizens who "own" it, and welcome such a series.
Greyhawk, Thanks for running a great site. Here for your reading pleasure is a story running in this Sunday's Boston Herald. Matt Boisvert is a kid I met at Walter Reed a couple of weeks ago, one of several local guys there I was interviewing for a Veterans Day story. At that time, when I asked what his future plans were, he said he was focused on passing his medical board so he could go back. I asked why, seeing as he has already given up a leg and has some work to do to get his arm back. He talked about the comraderie and regarding combat, said simply, "I loved it ... we enjoyed it." He had been in the initial invasion, and went back with First Marine Division in February in time for the first Falluja offensive. By then, he said, his platoon was like a team of athletes at the top of their game. He talked about the out-of-body experience of combat. Now of course, all jarheads are crazy and that's why we love them. But I was familiar with what he was talking about, due to my own experiences in March and April of 2003.
I've met a number of badly wounded guys and I've been impressed by all of them, coming away feeling like I was the one who got strength from them. Matt is among the more impressive in terms of his attitude. I also had one of those unexpected choking-up moments at Matt's welcome home party this afternoon and had to apologize while talking to his girlfriend, when she said she had dropped out of college to be with him while he is undergoing rehab at Reed.
The commitment of wives and girlfriends who stand with us and make it possible for the rest of us to pursue that which we must pursue is significant. I have a very good wife and three kids who have put up with a lot.
Best to you and everyone in the old neighborhood.
Can Blogging be about more than just blogging? Microsoft says "yes":
"Blogging is growing, but it is still a pretty niche thing," said Brooke Richardson, lead manager of MSN communication services. "We wanted to introduce it to a more mainstream audience and show them it can be about more than just blogging."
That's wonderful. Next: the internet, it's not just the internet any more.
Eighteen - what a great age to be - Alice Cooper even wrote a song about it. And 20 - another milestone year! Then 21, what more needs said about 21?
Which of course leaves 19, that odd year in the midst of all those others. Waay to old for all the birthday sorts of things for kids, waaay to young for the full on adult dread of the passing of another year, nineteen is still a great age to be.
Unless it's your son - there is no way my kid could possibly be that old is there? I'm only a few years older than that myself. But wait, I'm so old I know who Alice Cooper is...
Ahh well, just kidding, I've gotten used to all that. But some years ago I once mentioned to my mom that 30 sure seemed old to me, this being said on the occasion of my 30th birthday. "Thirty's not old..." she assured me, "unless it's your kid."
So the bottom line, son, is I'm okay with the big college tuition checks and such, but please, think about what this aging thing is doing to mom and grandma...
Aww forget it. You're 19. The world is yours. Happy Birthday from the guy who put the 'dad' in Baghdad.
Yes. I remember when I could hold your tiny body in my arms and comfort you when you'd cry.
Now it seems you hold my tiny body and comfort me while daddy's gone
Happy birthday, my not so little baby.
With the election less than two months away, a lot of good - and much under-reported - things are happening in Iraq right now: the continuing poll preparations; growing economy, less debt, more oil, more electricity; employment and car booms in Kurdistan; reconstruction powering on, including in former hot-spots; our soldiers and civilians helping Iraqis every day and every way; insurgents on the run; All this and much, much more, in the 16th instalment of "Good news from Iraq", available from:
Thanks for helping to spread the good news.
Watched The Incredibles on DVD today. Great film, easily worth the five bucks I paid for it. The only drawback is this new technique American filmmakers have adopted where they make a movie, then videotape a showing of it in a theater and then release that version of it. Must be the new craze; every movie I've seen since arriving in Iraq has used the technique...
Yes, of course I'm kidding. I mean, there are no pirated movies in Iraq! There are no Tanks in Baghdad! The Americans are roasting in the fires of hell...!
Damn, now you won't know what to believe. I've gone and damaged my credibility; become uncredible, if you will...
Hey, is Washington Post Staff Writer Bradley Graham a reader here? Just curious, because he seems to have built this story around the theme Russ Vaughn used in filling Mrs. G's request for a Thanksgiving poem:
A Sharp Shift From Killing to Kindness
U.S. Troops in Iraq Torn by Competing Needs to Battle Insurgents and Win Over Populace
BAGHDAD -- For Army Capt. Rex Blair, the contrast was jarring.
One minute a few weeks ago he was handing candy to a little girl in a southern Baghdad neighborhood. Then, suddenly, he received word over his military radio that a U.S. patrol had been ambushed along the Tigris River a couple of miles away. One soldier was dead, five were wounded.
Blair and his unit rushed to the scene, as did other nearby members of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. They overwhelmed the insurgents and easily won the battle. But Blair discovered that the U.S. soldier who had died was a close friend.
The next day, he was back trying to assist Iraqis by paving a road and installing a water pump.
Here's an excerpt from Russ's version:
How can you warriors fight through the night,
Then hand out food when comes the light?
Unlike other armies, you American G.I.'s
Are not viewed with fear by civilian eyes.
Other nations see this and are amazed
Not us, we know it's how you're raised.
Wherever you serve, the world can see,
You're the fine result of our democracy.
And as Americans know and Russ explains here, this is absolutely not a new phenomenon. Quoting Stephen Ambrose: "When soldiers from any other army, even our allies, entered a town, the people hid in the cellars. When Americans came in, even into German towns, it meant smiles, chocolate bars and C-rations."
The cliché American GI - alive and well, and hat tip to the Washington Post for not being afraid to say so.
Another cliché came to life for me today. I was talking to one of the troops who spends a considerable amount of time working with non-military/non-government Iraqis in a very public location. I was concerned for how he was eating, since he was far from a DFAC and local diets can sometimes produce unwanted reactions in tourists and other invaders - something we already call "Saddam's Revenge". This guy was a recent arrival, and I wanted to make sure he knew where to get MREs to take with him for lunch.
"No," he explained to my mild horror, "I've been eating with the Iraqis. Every day one of the guys brings the food for everyone. A different guy every day. Then we all eat lunch together." He went on to explain he ate only fully cooked foods, avoiding fresh raw vegetables that might have been washed in local water and anything he couldn't readily identify.
"So how do they like having you as an extra mouth to feed?" I asked.
"They love it. Man, being with those guys has completely changed my view of everything we're doing here."
"They just love us so much. They're so thankful we're here..."
I didn't ask for clarification of the "changed my view" remark, just prompted him for more. "Really?"
"Yea, they used to live in constant fear that they might screw up and end up dead for it. Now they know it's still dangerous but they have hope for the future. No, they think we're great. They're glad we're here."
Damn, from time to time you read about Iraqis expressing appreciation for us, but every time you actually hear it from yet another person you get a great feeling, followed shortly after by a question of "why the hell doesn't this sort of story get told more often in the press back home?!? Now here's an American who to some degree has had his views on the war altered by Iraqis! The Iraqis who are feeding him! A guy who even though he's military has until now only had press reports of the war to help him form an opinion.
And yes, I'm going to make sure the local chapter of the Michael Moore fan Club gets to hear from this guy first hand.
So take heart, America, you have the incredibles; the Washington Post is starting to read like Mudville, and average Iraqis are converting lukewarm Americans to enthusiastic supporters of their struggle for freedom. Maybe soon letters to the editor like this one in the Washington Times (from an individual I do not know) will become unnecessary:
As a soldier on the ground in Baghdad, I greatly appreciated Helle Dale's column ("Biased coverage in Iraq," Wednesday, Op-Ed). As sad as I am to say it, the media's bias here is willful. I'm here at what used to be Saddam Hussein's presidential palace, now the U.S. Embassy in the green zone.
The media has an office here in the palace. They see the same things I see, talk to the same people I do, hear the same rumors, etc. Yet they consciously omit the good things. I see it every day, and I find it sickening. I'm also one of those soldiers you mentioned who is constantly having to explain to the folks back home what's really happening here. I shouldn't have to do that. The Iraqi people, at least here in Baghdad, are thrilled that we're here and extremely grateful for what we're doing for them. There's no shortage of them who are more than willing to tell their stories to the media, or anyone who'll listen. Please write more about this subject because the major media refuse.
SGT. PATRICK OWEN, Baghdad
The word is getting out. We're winning. You can't hide that fact forever.
Not if you care about damaging your credibility.
Bad old joke:
Q:How many male chauvinist pigs does it take to open a beer?
A: She better bring it to him open!
That's a horrible joke - wrong in so many ways, and I absolutely can't condone that sort of humor. I was reminded of it when I stumbled across this horrible, horrible, website that a lot of the guys deployed over here seem to get a kick out of. Whatever you do, don't visit it! From what I've heard it's just wrong. In fact, that's why I've never visited that site, honest Mrs. G!
It's possible to avoid things like that while deployed, but imagine the utter horror I experienced while clicking into a respectable site and finding this where I least expected it. Shame on those guys for putting it there where unsuspecting guys like me suddenly find it!
And three cheers for all you good people who don't follow these links or pass them on to folks at the front who just shouldn't be exposed to such things.
And by the way, has "male chauvinist pig" vanished completely from the lexicon?
Our fellow MilBlogger, American Soldier has a cool New Look. Always fun to see another site break out of the standard blogspot template. It looks sharp. Go check it out.
And some of you may have noticed the MilBlogs page has been getting a little cleaning of it's own. I've made a few changes. I've added archives pages so you don't have to scroll endlessly to get to the bottom of the page and the Banner page has been updated with new banners too. Here's just a few.
Are you flying a MilBlog banner? You don't have to be military to "support the troops". If you've got a blog, click here to join the MilBlogs or Friends of Milblogs,
and here to choose from many of our other banners.
Nikita Demosthenes with details on election scandals - in the Weblog Awards and the Ukraine (keep scrolling).
Those inclined can vote for Mudville not more than once a day here.
The harrowing World War II movie Twelve O'Clock High begins with a postwar bald and bespectacled Dean Jagger (Colonel Harvey Stovall) riding his bicycle out to an old airfield in Archbury, England, that years earlier had been home to the 918th B-17 Bombing Group of the 8th Air force. As the nondescript Jagger walks along the weed-infested airbase and rusting bombers, the movie unfolds as one long dreamlike flashback of the horrors of what daylight bombing over Germany in 1942 entailed and the courageous men who used to take off from the now eerie, abandoned runways.
In juxtaposing the dreadfulness of what the airmen went through (centered around the bravery and eventual breakdown of group Commander Gen. Frank Savage) with the calm of the post-bellum English countryside, director Henry King reminds us how easily we forget horrors of the immediate past. No one in the town, or indeed back home in America, other than the families of the dead, recalled a Bishop, Cobb, Wilson, or the thousands of Savage's anonymous flyers who perished in doing their part to bring down the Third Reich. The tragedy of Stovall's war, King seems to suggest, is that the inferno in the skies was but a blink of the eye from its dividends of victory and rural tranquility ? and that we all are of short memory, allowing even the worst nightmare to retreat into the oblivion of everyday life.
His essay, like all his others, is a gold mine of ideas. He notes that along with the tragic things we've also forgotten that Americans have been bombarded from September 12 on with relentless assaults on morale, that of the troops and those on the home front. Excerpts from the laundry list: Afghanistan is unconquerable, terrain and people will repel all invaders, Americans aren't preparred, high tech weapons will be useless, Muslims will rally to the aid of the Taliban... do these things seem silly in hindsight?
How about these more recent examples:
Already we have forgotten the long ride to Baghdad ? when our ex-generals warned of thousands of dead to come in a deadly siege, and were trumped by relief workers who assured us of millions more refugees. Then there were the cries of defeat when our forces plowed through a windstorm ? as our supposed Dresden-like shock and awe were suddenly mocked not as too terrible but as laughably impotent. We grow depressed now at the canned pessimism of our talking heads who predict failure in post-bellum Iraq ? forgetting that these same prophets swore to us just months ago that thousands would die getting to Baghdad.
And on and on and on... from the "Outrage in the Arab street" when Saddam's son's corpses were displayed for the world to the "outrage in the Arab street" when camera's actually captured a Marine bullet exploding the skull of an insurgent in Fallujah, the hand wringing in the press has been an incessant and shrill Greek chorus that began some time around 2pm eastern on September 11 and has yet to cease.
And it has yet to be proven accurate or reliable on any significant point. None the less, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow the bed wetting continues without pause.
It may be late in the game but never too late. I've joined this challenge. Just tap the banner of my choice below.
Every little bit helps.
Congrats to Hook for making it of of the 'Stan!
With the onset of my final Afghan dusk I walked the quarter mile to the passenger terminal, my duffel bag slung across my shoulder digging in just enough to remind me that I had packed too much crap, and carrying my laptop in the opposite hand. It was quiet as I stepped out of my hooch, most of the soldiers were undoubtedly at chow or those on night cycle would be down on steel beach standing ready to launch, which translates to playing HALO in the ready room. Just as well, I had had my full of “goodbyes” earlier in the day. So, I did the duffel bag drag under the ever darkening purple sky walking past the plywood hooches that were canvas tents a mere eight months earlier. Listening to the gut rumbling roar of an EA6 taking to the skys, I thought to myself that those Prowlers have proven their worth time and again in spite of repeated attempts by a bunch of bean counters to put them out to pasture in some Arizona bone yard. I recalled that the four seater jet was invaluable to us during the early days of the Bosnia affair.You can read the rest here
“How bittersweet that must be, to gain the promotion at the cost of completing the tour. Congrats Hook. Where to next? Make it Germany and we’ll hoist a few tall cold ones, and have a beer or two to boot.”
Hugh: I claim Aquilas (the Eagle) for the MilBloggers, one and all. You could grant it to someone else, but we'd simply take it back, and there would be carnage involved.
One of these things is not like the other...
CNN headline: Rumsfeld to remain in Cabinet
New York Times headline: President Is Said To Be Keeping Rumsfeld As Defense Secretary
Clinging desperately to a last shred of hope that the story isn't true - pity the poor NY Times editors - reality for them is a nightmare that gets increasingly more frightening with each passing day. Buy pharmaceutical stock, those of you who can. Prozac sales in New York City will never fall...
More from the Times
It is not clear whether Mr. Bush will make any changes in the rest of the Pentagon's civilian leadership, including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz. Mr. Wolfowitz is a leader of the neoconservative group within the administration that saw toppling Saddam Hussein as an opportunity to begin sowing democracy throughout the Middle East but underestimated the violence and chaos that would engulf Iraq once Mr. Hussein's grip was loosed.
"Despite some colossal mistakes, Rumsfeld now emerges as unquestionably the president's most important security adviser," said Loren B. Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va.
How badly must they have wanted to use "cabal" in place of "group" in the first paragraph.
Al Qaeda, meanwhile, was not available for comment. No doubt they are celebrating the fact that they'll enjoy a few more years of massive victories against the colossal bungler.
While you're doing your daily blogging or blog reading, here's a little background music. A song in appreciation of our troops.
Hat tip to The Sunnye Side
Hello team Grayhawk,
I know Sgt. Lizzie is not part of the MILBLOG ring so may be off the radar.
With less than 20 days till a return trip home, her unit unfortunately made a CNN brief "One soldier was killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near Al-Ghalibiyah, just west of Baquba, U.S. military officials said. The bomb was targeting a U.S. convoy, officials said."
She phrased it another way "As you have already heard, I got my happy ass blown up."
Damn tough job you folks have. Thank you for your perseverance, and dare I say 'satirical humor' when faced with adversity.
Cin in SoCal
Heroes in Iraq come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Go, please and wish this one well.
UPDATE:Sgt Lizzie has an update (with photos) on her progress. Warning! Not for the faint at heart.
After you vote for him, blogroll him. Move him up a few categories for next year.
They’re Boy Scout Religious Emblems. From left to right, Baptist, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Roman Catholic, and Zoroastrian – the Scouts require faith from their members, but not in a specific God. That distinction doesn’t appear in the media coverage of the issue though, does it?
The Scout Law declares a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
They don't claim a monopoly on any of those.
To the best of my knowledge, other than the reverent part the ACLU has no problem with the Scouts. Odd isn't it? Why isn't the ACLU going to bat for those who refuse to bathe? Why not attack the Scouts for excluding the deceitful, backstabbing, troublesome, mean, rude, unruly, morose, extravagant, cowardly, and dirty Baptists or Hindus that are denied membership too?
Further explanation of 'reverent' from the Scouts home page: "A Scout is reverent. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion."
Yea, I can see where that's offensive.
Three cheers for Don Rumsfeld and Congressional Republicans who are working to halt the spread of cancer of the common sense in America:
First the Pentagon plans to send away the Boy Scouts. Then Defense Secretary (and Eagle Scout) Donald Rumsfeld promises he won't allow that. Now Congress is making noises about backing up the Scouts with legislative protection. A growing number of legal scholars think the arguments against the Boy Scouts of America no longer stand scrutiny, and we're heartened to hear it.
Trouble for the Boy Scouts began with a lawsuit filed in 1999 by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU argues that the Pentagon is wrong to allow military sponsorship of Scout troops because Scouts are required to pledge belief in God. To the ACLU, that's religious discrimination. The ACLU argues further that since military bases sponsor about 400 Boy Scout units and spend $2 million annually to support Boy Scout jamborees, the government is guilty, too. The ACLU wants to evict the Boy Scouts from military bases. This would constitute discrimination against the Boy Scouts of America, not by them, but this does not impress the ACLU.
Things took a turn for the worse in mid-November, when a group of Pentagon lawyers reached a settlement that would have prevented military bases from sponsorship. Congress cried foul. That's when Mr. Rumsfeld stepped in. "The Department of Defense takes great pride in its longstanding and rich tradition of support to the Boy Scouts of America," he wrote to a group of congressmen, and vowed that Boy Scouts would be allowed to stay on the bases. Now Republican leaders in the Senate plan to codify these ties.
Though alas, a minor jeer to the Washington Times for repeating that erroneously over-simplified 'belief in God' bit.
More info on the myriad religious emblems Boy Scouts are authorized to wear on their uniforms here.
There is an upside to this - that such things inspire the blogosphere's own powerful poetic genius, Russ Vaughn.
The 2004 Web Log Awards are up, voting has begun, and I'm pleased and surprised to note that Mudville is a nominee in the Best of the Top 100 Blogs category. Rules and instructions for voting can be found at the link.
Cool - some will note I requested not to be included in the Military Blogs category, in fact I swapped a couple of polite emails to that effect with Kevin Aylward, who understood my position in the matter completely. To be nominated in another category is a true honor, I salute any who suggested this site for such recognition and certainly thank Kevin for putting me in some very prestigious company.
It's been a great year for blogs - I don't need to reiterate that here - and it has truly been a pleasure to be a part of it. I'm humbled, amazed, and ever grateful to the folks who stop by here, leave a comment, link something I've written, or simply "ghost" in and out again. If my small voice from Iraq has reinforced your faith that America is on track and doing the right thing then I'm accomplishing the second most important mission I'm on here.
Finally - a long distance hug to the Mrs., who once told me that I should add a site meter to Mudville because she thought people might be reading it, and who in many more ways now makes this site not just possible, but better.
Love you much - miss you more.
UPDATE: Seems the left blogs are doing the expected...Cheating and of course they're proud of it.
Hat tip to LGF.
When I was a boy, yep, I was a Scout,
And whole time I was, no Scoutmasters came out.
Nope, they stayed in the closet, if any were there,
And no parents protested our Scout meeting prayer.
We believed in our creed, truly honored our oath,
Our duty to God in those years was not loathe.
No, we pledged our young lives that we’d do our best,
To honor traditions behind our Scout crest.
But our honor’s now questioned by a liberal elite,
That will settle for nothing but our total defeat.
Renounce God we’re told, or we’ll take you to court,
Scouting’s now not for kids it’s become lawyers’ sport.
No, we haven’t a right to now say who shall lead
The children we hopefully entrust to this creed.
So these possible predators we’re told now to trust,
And hope our young boys don’t fall prey to their lust.
I’ve had it with liberals, I’m full up to here,
They’ve pushed me beyond any warped legal fear
To the point that I say that whatever they do,
My mission in life is SCREW THE ACLU.
They’ve robbed me of Christmas, robbed me of youth,
In their misguided crusade for their brand of truth.
Like good ol’ Dan Rather, ACLU you’re a goner,
I pledge that to you on my cherished Scout’s Honor.
Know the difference between these?
Don?t let a soldier be disappointed this Christmas. If someone asks you to send special K-bars to the front, make sure you know exactly what they want.
I've mentioned before a young Mike Moore fan I'm stationed with over here. He's written a letter in Jabba's book and had at least one other published on Moore's web site. Recently this young troop started receiving packages from one of the fairly well-known letters-to-troops outfits back in the states, acting as his unit's POC and distributing some to the other guys. Being familiar with most such organizations I asked him where he'd discovered them.
"Michael Moore's web page." He replied.
I should have known. This caused me a little concern, as I imagined various anti-war propaganda being sent over via an unwitting agency sincerely wanting to help the troops.
But to the mild dismay of the young GI everything he's received thus far from that organization has originated in various Christian schools throughout America. Everything he's opened has included hand made cards and letters from young kids, their childish scrawls wishing us well and ensuring us in no uncertain terms that God is looking out for us. The same sorts of things are viewable on virtually every office wall over here.
You'd think a few of Mike's many supporters would have followed the link off his homepage wouldn't you? Nope - at least not enough to make any significant contribution to the cause. Couldn't help but point that out to the guy.
"But hey, maybe Mike's readers send stuff to the insurgents." I added as an afterthought. You know, just to give him hope that his fellow Moore fans aren't a completely self-centered lot.
Cruising through the online news sites I note there's really little worth noting. Post-election drawdown? Iraqi insurgents knocked a bit further back than many at first thought? Perhaps it is so, but then another theory hit me.
Blogs have done it - they've intimidated the major media to the point where they are now afraid to tell us the real news! It's out there - you know stuff is going on - but in the wake of RatherGate and every other pre-election debacle they've given up the ghost, thrown in the towel, called it quits. They've not just quit manufacturing stories, they've quit telling them altogether.
They are starting to report on Oil-For-Food though. Of course, that was blogged to death 6 months ago.
Cheer, ye victorious bloggers. Today, the first of December 2004, the world is as you've made it.
If only it could last...