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February 10, 2012

Where Have All the Milkooks Gone?

Where have all the Milkooks gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the Milkooks gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the Milkooks gone?
They're all on Facebook: every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

The Blog Princess would have thought that was obvious: Yawn single-handedly got us all kicked off the Intertubes... we're all just scalps on his rapidly expanding belt. Seriously, over at The Thunder Run David M. has a two part series on the disappearing Milblogger. In part one, he asks:

Do you wonder where all the blogs went that were being written by the soldiers on the frontlines? I do, I’ve been tracking these blogs for close to a decade now and for information on what is happening on the front lines you are pretty much now resigned to the major media outlets or the Department of Defense official reports, and the few blogs that are out there are primarily being written by civilians or contractors.

So what happened to the wide spread use of social media by the troops? The best I can tell is that they either went dark or completely private, meaning the blog owner has to approve you to view their posts, because Big Army has put the hammer down on anything that doesn’t reflect highly on the mission or the commanders.

I can't speak for the folks who used to blog from the front lines. Nor do I know anything about "Big Army", being the wife of a retired Marine who recorded the ups and downs of her little slice of war from the comfy chair in her office, a small brown dog nestled at her feet. I don't know where the Milblogs have gone.

I do know why I stopped blogging about the war. There were two reasons, actually:

1. In the wake of the glorious ascension of Teh Won to the Alabaster Throne, the media have all but forgotten their uber-outrage-y moral indignation about the war. In the blink of an eye, unmanned drones became humane and Gitmo was no longer the great humanitarian crisis of our time. Killing or detaining U.S. citizens without twelve layers of oversight? Ho-hum. Signing statements and the dreaded unitary executive? So pre-Barack. Dissent, once the lifeblood of a vibrant democracy, transmogrified into dangerous insubordination; disrespect for the very authority figures it was once deemed our civic duty to question.

I spent 7 years of my life countering a never ending barrage of strategically timed leaks, distortions, thinly veiled propaganda, and misinformation because I thought we were doing something important. But when the media stopped covering, stopped criticizing and undermining the New, Improved War Effort the need for that kind of intense effort lessened. I can't say it went away entirely, but it no longer seemed so urgently important to respond to arguments few people were making anymore.

2. For a variety of reasons I won't go into here, I felt very conflicted about supporting the Afghan Surge. When my husband informed me he was going over there, the first thing I said to him was, "You DO understand Obama has no intention of winning, don't you? This is nothing more than window dressing before his eventual pullout, and a lot of people are going to get killed to make him look good."

I stand by that assessment. My husband's response was that regardless of the political motivation for the stepped up mission, the Marines over there still deserved the best support we could give them. I agreed with that, too.

I supported the war effort for years when many of my fellow conservatives did not think we should be over there. I did so because, despite the cost, I thought what we were doing over there was important and I believed Bush was in it to win. To Obama, this war has always been an afterthought. He couldn't make time to meet with senior commanders, the much hyped diplomatic outreach to Maliki and Karzai seemed to consist of undermining them at every turn. So much for efficacy of soft power.

There are times when I don't think I will ever be able to forgive the waste. No, that's not true because the men and women who gave their lives did not waste them. History will eventually reveal what new world will spring from the spilled blood of heroes and the tears of those who kept the home fires burning. Nothing is ever wasted. It's just that we're still too close to see the pattern. Or maybe it's just that emotion obscures our sight.

What I shall never be able to forget are the faces. Somewhere on an old machine I still have their photos. I will try to find them because they should not be forgotten.

War truly is hell, but those who maintain that nothing was ever solved by war need to pick up a history book. In the end, it is our struggles that define us. The only thing that can justify the terrible cost of war is a true commitment to doing what it takes to win. We owe that to those who fight on our behalf.

Just my two cents from the distaff side. My hat is off to the many bloggers who have persevered in chronicling the struggle in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm reminded of a quote by a general who fought a savage, bloody war faithfully and well:

“In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins.”

I wonder how future generations will view the years since 9/11?

I'm sitting here at my desk on the 7th floor with tears streaming down my face. That used to be daily experience - it happened every single time I sat down to write about the war. I can't remember the last time I felt that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach but I will never forget the men and women whose stories I tried not to mangle.

“I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.” - Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the Union Army

Amen, sir.
Amen.

Posted by Cassandra at February 10, 2012 04:27 AM

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Comments

This makes me feel very ....sad. I too feel bad about how this is shaking out. And I'm sure that we can find plenty of people to blame Bush.

I remember you writing some years ago, regarding the view by some that, "This is all a mistake!!"

And you wrote something like: So what do we tell the soldiers next time? This time we REALLY mean it and we're in this to win? How does any officer stand up in front of his men and say such a thing? What kind of man has that little integrity?

What kind of a masochist would voluntarily sign up for that sort of thing?

Where will we find the kind of patriots that your husband (and so many others) has been in 25 years?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 10, 2012 01:33 PM

Oh, I think we haven't had any problem finding them. Our problem is finding political leaders worthy of them.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 10, 2012 02:51 PM

All I can say is Thank You! I've gained a great deal from reading your posts over these last few years. Your insight, your willingness to examine all sides and debate politely/courteously/and sometimes with devastating "ooh that's gonna leave a mark!" (even with the occasional troll) has taught me a great deal about how I approach issues.

I am sad that many milblogs have gone by the wayside whether because they had to, the focus of their life changed, or just because. I frankly think we are losing a valuable educational tool as those voices go quietly away.

I thoroughly agree with Don. Where WILL we find our future patriots?? I'm afraid of what the answer may be . . .

Posted by: Nina at February 10, 2012 02:51 PM

Sorry guys. I didn't mean to be so morose. It kind of snuck up on me.

I guess I've got some unresolved anger issues :p Someone should.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 10, 2012 05:45 PM

I came back and had a couple of kids. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Posted by: Sig at February 11, 2012 11:35 PM

I went looking for other things, Cass; for the things behind the things we are fighting over. That is to say μετά φυσικά: the things behind the things that move. The word in modern English is "Metaphysics."

I have not forgotten the problem: I just am after it in another way.

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2012 10:01 PM

...the few blogs that are out there are primarily being written by civilians or contractors.

Which doesn't mean that we ignore the soldier's perspective, because we're still kinda hard-wired to look at things that way, but we're stuck with a double-whammy -- we have to adhere to OPSEC *and* refrain from writing something which may have a negative impact on Corporate Headquarters.

That said, it's snowing like Hades on a Harley here in Kabul -- what's the weather like in scenic Murralynd?

Posted by: BillT at February 13, 2012 03:58 AM

It was downright nipply in Noht'Cackalacky yesterday. Wind chill at noon was 18.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at February 13, 2012 07:01 AM

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