Thursday, January 25, 2007

Michelle "Rafterman" Malkin

Over at Michelle Malkin's blog she highlights blogger Bill Ardolino's statement about the month he spent "embedded" in Iraq:
This trip has briefly exposed me to personal extremes of stress, humor, camaraderie, nobility, savagery, hope, despair, fear and excitement, either as an observer or participant. I've arrived at a better understanding of the chaos that stalks civilization and met a lot of inspiring folks who make me want to be a better human being. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world.
I give Ardolino props for going over there to put his ass--and his convictions--on the line. Of course, as a war supporter he tended to report the "good news" exclusively (odd that he missed this fight for a single street in the heart of Baghdad, for example), but, still, he did hang it out there. To be honest, I didn't read far enough into Ardolino's posts to have made this claim and I retract it. He seemed to deal with the bad shit as well as the good and, of course, he was in Anbar province.

I also applauded Michelle Malkin for going over, but her response to Ardolino makes me sick. She wrote:
Ditto that.
Oh really, Michelle? In the week you spent in country you reached the personal highs and/or lows of " stress, humor, camaraderie, nobility, savagery, hope, despair, fear and excitement"? Or is she simply saying she wouldn't trade her week in sunny Baghdad? Either way, it's hard to see how she gained any truly meaningful understanding of what it means to serve over there in her hit and run visit to the country. I'll bet her friends are already tired of hearing about her week "in the shit" and how she was really there to blog and take photos, but if the shit had gotten too thick she would have had to "go to the rifle."

Honestly, when I saw Michelle Malkin on TV the other night, I thought, What? She's back already? and then I learned she'd been back for a week, spending about a week on the ground. On returning from her trip, she wrote:
I came to Iraq a darkening pessimist about the war, due largely to my doubts about the compatibility of Islam and Western-style democracy, but also as a result of the steady, sensational diet of "grim milestone" and "daily IED count" media coverage that aids the insurgency. I left Iraq with unexpected hope and resolve.
That must have been some week. Strangely enough, I can't find where Malkin blogged about being a "darkening pessimist" before leaving, but maybe I'm just not looking hard enough.

Note: I have voiced my intention to blog from Iraq a bit later in the spring and I plan to spend at least two months on the ground. I have been asking for donations for some time and, honestly, I haven't received a strong response. I will put out the call once again, but, before you donate, I want you to know this: I intend to tell the stories on the ground while I'm there. I want to tell the personal stories of deployed soldiers and local Iraqis with as much impartiality as I can muster. I have a history in the military and in journalism and you will not find a more avid supporter of "the troops" than I, but I have believed from the beginning that this war was a foolish waste of blood and treasure. While I believe that I will have my feelings about the war alternately tested and reinforced, I will not argue that my view of the war is the only view of the war, but I will add my voice to the debate. You can't describe the war from the perspective of a single person anymore than you can describe St. Peter's Cathedral by looking through a keyhole.

I hope you'll consider donating to the cause.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will donations made via your "Make a Donation" link go for this trip? (I don't see any other donation links, so I'm assuming this is the case.)

I have mixed feelings about the wisdom of such a venture - even when undertaken by a war-wise veteran such as yourself - but I've been kinda-sorta following your story (via Atrios) since your time in Afghanistan, and I can think of few people as well suited to tell the stories of the folks over there who are caught up in this unnecessary and nasty adventure.


11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You wrote:

"Of course, as a war supporter he tended to report the "good news" exclusively"

After reading and acknowledging the pieces highlighted and linked below my signature, I eagerly await your update and retraction.


Bill from INDC

The pieces:

Corruption in the Iraqi Army

An interview with a Fallujan Civil servant:

"From Fallujah to the city of Abu Ghraib, the radicals control everything. Gas stations, power, contracts and, believe it or not, contracts with the Americans themselves. The Americans give a contract to someone and the insurgents extort their share. This is how they finance their operations. An oil distribution facility in al-Anbar, believe it or not, half of its production goes to those radicals and to finance insurgency activities. A Fallujah judge doesn't dare to judge someone. He's too scared. He's been threatened and he has no power to protect himself."

And "putting out fires in Fallujah:"


"The firefighter’s frightened refusal is a microcosm of the problems faced by pro-government forces and neutral citizens in their bid to reestablish a civil society in the war-weary city.

Fallujah is sometimes characterized as a model example of Coalition work in the al-Anbar province, but a low-level insurgency still executes violent attacks and intimidates civil servants of the nascent government. "

12:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Link for the last one:

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and one more thing:

"odd that he missed this fight for a single street in the heart of Baghdad, for example"

I was in Fallujah. It is in the Anbar province, 30 minutes west of Baghdad. Again, a different city than Baghdad, also widely considered a different theatre with wildly different circumstances in the same war. I was reporting on things I actually saw and people I actually talked to in that OTHER city, which again, is NOT BAGHDAD.

You clearly didn't actually read my work or stated intent before offering your dismissive assessment. Frankly, that's a bit silly.

And more than ever, after seeing war, people viewing everything through predetermined political frames of reference annoy me, whether they're from the left or right.

Thanks for the props, though.

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And one more link - this is a map of Iraq:

I suggest you familiarize yourself with the basic geography of the major cities before and if indeed you do go over there.

A basic understanding of the difference between the insurgency in Baghdad and the insurgency in Anbar might be helpful as well.

12:38 AM  
Blogger Nitpicker said...


I admit that I had only sampled a few of your posts when they appeared on other blogs and when my basic exposure to your posts has been some soldier saying "We're making great progress. We're making great progress." I assumed you were a hack. I was wrong. I retract my previous statement.

Thanks for the advice as well, but, yeah I know where Anbar is. Welcome back.

7:01 AM  

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