Blog from Iraq by an ex soldier
January 25, 2008 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Frontline Blogger covers war in Iraq with a soldier's eyes. First hand impressions, photos, and reports from a non journalist. A NYT write up.
posted by semmi (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
An NYT write up. Sorry.
posted by semmi at 2:32 PM on January 25, 2008

Given that the military has to sign off on any soldier's blog these days, shouldn't this post have the 'astroturf' tag?
posted by mullingitover at 2:51 PM on January 25, 2008

Yon is a civilian. He used to be Special Forces, but he's not under military command now, except to the extent that any attached press is. The military does not "sign off" on what he says.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:54 PM on January 25, 2008

Steven C. Den Beste writes "The military does not 'sign off' on what he says."

Got anything to back this up? This all smells of astrturf. High-quality, realistic texture and maybe even with real grass scent, but astroturf nonetheless. The pre-ban soldiers posting in their blogs without government oversight was the closest thing we ever had to real reporting about Iraq.
posted by mullingitover at 3:16 PM on January 25, 2008

I'm sorry, I flat out don't believe that the government is going to allow anyone they think has the slightest chance of speaking out against the war or in any way showing the troops in a negative light to wander around live operations in Iraq. Certainly they've done all they could to suppress reporting by real reporters.

Reading through the articles, it seems endlessly about the superhuman military exploits of the brave Americans, fighting the evil Terrorists. I don't see even lip service to being unbiased or impartial. And the fact that SCDB claims the military doesn't sign off on it is the final straw for me...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:30 PM on January 25, 2008

Technically anyone who reports (accurately) -is- a journalist.

It's an important distinction - or rather, an important lack of distinction.

At least that's my opinion as a working journalist.
posted by BrianBoyko at 3:33 PM on January 25, 2008

In regards to active soldiers blogging --

New Army Rules Regarding Blogging
" The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19 [2007], is the sharpest restriction on troops' online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of battlefield blogs, observers say....The new rules [PDF], obtained by Wired News, require a commander be consulted before every blog update."
posted by ericb at 3:48 PM on January 25, 2008

Yep, that's what I was talking about ericb. The government learn their lesson with Abu Ghraib. This was probably put in place to prevent soldiers from leaking any further details about Geneva Convention violations.
posted by mullingitover at 3:53 PM on January 25, 2008

Anyone who reports is a reporter. Anyone who reports accurately is a good reporter.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:22 PM on January 25, 2008

It really reads like Michael Herr's Dispatches, almost is if the writer wants to emullate Herr's confused soldier/journalist style.
posted by mattoxic at 5:03 PM on January 25, 2008

I seldom get letters in Iraq, but waiting for me in the mailroom while I slept was a card. The return address sticker, an American flag on it, was from Jefferson, Pennsylvania. The postage stamp had an American flag waving. The card inside had a picture of an American flag for its cover. The sweet and heartfelt message inside ended with-

Please tell our soldiers we care so much for them. -Dan and Connie Lama.

posted by mattoxic at 5:06 PM on January 25, 2008

It really reads like Michael Herr's Dispatches, almost is if the writer wants to emullate Herr's confused soldier/journalist style.

But without its hallucinatory prose poem beauty.

I mean, this? But it’s that battle-hardened bravery that makes him the kind of leader that Americans admire and Iraqis respect. Like the soldiers of Deuce Four, Iraqis have seen too much war to believe in fairy tales. They know true warriors bleed.

Really? Blech.
posted by rtha at 5:29 PM on January 25, 2008

I'm fairly certain that site was professionally designed and built. Check out the source code--there's a lot of oddly-placed pro-military stuff in there:

One of the reasons I trust General Petraeus is he just comes right out and says what needs to be said. A letter about values which he sent to our forces serving in Iraq is a case in point.
There is great stress in combat, and this particular type of combat can be very frustrating. Stress in combat increases the potential for something bad to happen. Strong commanders are the only thing standing between us and another Abu Grahaib or Haditha. If something like that were to happen now, it would be a terrible setback in a war that we can still win.
Read more here.

posted by fandango_matt at 5:42 PM on January 25, 2008

Yeah, this is just crappy Pentagon propaganda.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:43 PM on January 25, 2008

This doesn't seem like astroturfing. Some people are just, you know, right-wing.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:56 PM on January 25, 2008

Those of you shouting astro-turf obviously have not RTFA.
posted by photoslob at 6:15 PM on January 25, 2008

I read the NYT article. I believe this guy is sincere. It doesn't mean that he's giving us anything close to an accurate picture of what's happening.

I believe that they are allowing him to do this because they know he's completely safe. I also believe that if they said, "Hey, Mike, don't print this part, it'll impede the war effort," he'd remove it in a second.

Therefore, I believe that, while he's sincere, his reporting is worthless.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:28 PM on January 25, 2008

I wonder if he still thinks he'll uncover some nasty WMD's under a rock in Iraq someday.

People like him never give up hope.
posted by Balisong at 6:31 PM on January 25, 2008

lupus_yonderboy, he's been fed by the military and the prose has that awful over-edited feel.
posted by mattoxic at 7:06 PM on January 25, 2008

I'm confused. Where's the blog? I just want to read the blog!
posted by iamkimiam at 7:14 PM on January 25, 2008

Oh, I think I get it. Strangest blog layout ever!
posted by iamkimiam at 7:15 PM on January 25, 2008

Best line in the article is the last:
"More articles in Business>>"

just in case you weren't quite sure what this was all about.
posted by hexatron at 7:33 PM on January 25, 2008

I'm glad we have these bloggers to tell us how well the war against Eurasia is going.
posted by Avenger at 7:45 PM on January 25, 2008

Just watched the Academy Award-nominated documentary No End In Sight this evening.
Rumsfeld: "No. That's someone else's business. Quagmire is -- I don't do quagmires."
If you haven't seen the film, I recommend it. As A. O. Scott of The New York Times said, it's "exacting, enraging....a sober, revelatory and absolutely vital film."*
posted by ericb at 7:46 PM on January 25, 2008

Does it say what charity I should donate to?
posted by LordSludge at 8:47 PM on January 25, 2008

Meeting Resistance is another film about Iraq which sounds very good. It explores the Iraqis' reasons for joining the resistance movement.
posted by homunculus at 1:14 AM on January 26, 2008

These things are still interesting. Even as astroturf you can figure a lot out from the dead spaces where news should be. Much like the NYT's turfing of turf reveals a fair bit. He is paid by "donors" who give untold amounts and the NYT doesn't care to find out who or why because that would be journalism and the NYT admires reluctant journalists.
posted by srboisvert at 4:41 AM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

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