There are some haunting images of the Iraqi people. A blogger named Michael, who spends his days dodging roadside bombs in Ramadi, sees an Iraqi man driving a tractor and wearing a New York Yankees cap. "I wondered if he hated the Red Sox," he writes. The author of "Sisyphus Today" describes moving with a speeding convoy when he sees a little Iraqi boy "crying at the top of his lungs" beside the road and realizes that the boy is alone and afraid. "I wanted to stop, in my mind the risk was minimal, but I couldn't stop the convoy. Where would I have taken the boy anyway? I can only say 'stop' and 'hello' in Arabic. So we drove on past."
Here is another good survey of the phenomenon, from the May issue of the Columbia Journalism Review. It includes the following interesting story:
In August 2004, a twenty-eight-year-old Army infantryman named Colby Buzzell, writing anonymously under the handle CBFTW (the last three letters stand for, alternately, “fuck the war” or “fuck the world”), posted his account of a vicious firefight with insurgents on his blog, My War. “We were driving there on that main street when all of a sudden all hell came down all around on us. I was like, this is it, I’m going to die. I cannot put into words how scared I was.” The battle received scant media attention, and the Pentagon played down the extent to which Buzzell’s brigade had even been involved in the fighting — crediting Iraqi security forces with the victory. Days later, though, a report in the Tacoma, Washington, News Tribune, which covers Buzzell’s Fort Lewis-based detachment, noted the discrepancy between Buzzell’s version and the Pentagon’s. This drew attention to Buzzell’s blog, and soon his officers learned his identity. Buzzell was later briefly confined to base, an experience he details in his forthcoming book, My War: Killing Time in Iraq, due out in October.
This blogger complains that the CJR article omits the fact that most milblogs are set up to expressly contradict the MSM's portrayal of the war. I disagree, since the article notes that "the coverage coming out of Iraq today doesn’t portray the grunts in the same deeply personal light. It is a different era, and most journalists have never served in the military and have only a passing acquaintance with the worlds that most soldiers come from." However, he's right that a lot of soldiers seem to resent the MSM portayal of the war. There's some political diversity among milbloggers, but they tend to be pro-war (which makes sense).
Some of the prose is very purple in some of the most popular blogs at sites like MILBlogging, but there's some really great stuff, too (btw, if you go to MILblogging, just ignore the guy who runs it and his partisan ranting about "the liberal lunatic MSM" and go directly to the blogs-- what he doesn't realize is that he's as annoying and unnecessary as any of the dumb intermediaries on Fox or CNN).
One good post I just read here has some thoughts about Iraq society as he has witnessed it, as well as some great photos:
Iraqi School Teacher: We know so little about these people and they so little about us
Line Was Drawn--No one expected lines like these in a place like Baquba
Yeah, he is biased and is making an argument with his photos, but it's still fascinating to see amateur dispatches from the front lines.
Tags: war , Iraq , military blogs , David Ignatius, news and politics, milblogs, washington post