Saturday, August 28, 2004

Taking “My War” down…

Since it is a hot topic right now and I just found out about it today, I figured I would weigh in with my two cents on why they took down “My War”.

On one hand, it sort of pisses me off. I only discovered it recently and it was one of the best Iraq blogs I have seen. The writing was excellent, regardless of whether it was grammatically perfect or not. As you know I am somewhat “grammatically challenged” myself sometimes. If all people looked for in a piece of writing was good grammar, they would sit around reading technical manuals all the time. CB’s writing was able to put the reader right there in the scene and reveal the emotion and chaos of the situation to someone thousands of miles away. Assuming that the blog is down for good, the best thing to come out of this may be a new writer who will have the confidence and contacts to stick with it and get published. Then again, there is always the possibility that through some type of intervention, Divine or otherwise, he will be allowed to begin writing again. Whether he does or not is another question. I can imagine the hassle he has been going through, and he may decide to just say “screw it” and write for himself and his friends from now on.

From a military point of view though, and I don’t expect any civilian to understand or agree with this, once the decision is made he has no choice but to cease, desist, and drive on with the mission. There is no such thing as the right to free speech in the military. If a civilian tells his boss to go screw himself, he will likely get fired. If a soldier does the same thing, he could end up paying large fines, being restricted to his room for several weeks, doing manual labor late into the night for several weeks, or theoretically, in the case of a court martial, he could even do jail time. If a civilian doesn’t like the President, he can say almost anything he wants about him as long as he doesn’t make any overt threats. If a soldier doesn’t like the President, too freaking bad. The President of the United States is in our chain of command and we are forbidden by regulation from making public criticism of any element of our chain of command.

Also, there is always the possibility that the enemy reads his blog as well. The most innocuous of statements can hold potential intelligence value. Something that a Specialist or Private or even a Staff Sergeant or Lieutenant might think innocent could be of value to somebody. Even if the likelihood is small, the consequences could be great. Without a doubt, if there is any question of whether an individual soldier’s writing might put lives or missions in jeopardy, that writing will go away.

My guess is that some commander decided that it wasn’t worth the risk and decided to take no chances. There is also likely a political element to it. The best writing is never politically correct. Someone will always take offense to something. Whether it is intentional or perceived, any lack of respect or appropriateness will ruffle feathers and the chances are… somebody’s feathers got ruffled.

Before we get too upset with this shadowy figure who took away our unvarnished view of life in a combat unit, we need to put things in perspective. The commander who was responsible for the decision has hundreds or thousands of American lives that they are responsible for. One soldier’s blog, when you step back and look at the big picture, is not worth worrying about if it is even a minor distraction for the chain of command. I hope CB continues to write, and if allowed, to write publicly. But if not, I hope he writes a book or set of memoirs or whatever makes him happy. And in the meantime, he will continue to do his duty and eventually come home safely. So as far as I’m concerned, say a prayer both for CB and for the Officers and NCOs who are leading and caring for our soldiers over there. They all have decisions to make and they all make them with the best interests of the United States Army and our country in mind.

4 Comments:

Blogger Quit Smoking said...

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Gone Fishin',

Neil

9:45 PM  
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9:34 PM  
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9:34 PM  
Blogger Charlton Glad said...

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9:35 PM  

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