In Iraq for 365

About my experiences in Iraq... the frustrations, the missions and this country... and the journey home

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Teach the Iraqis Franklin and Martin Luther King

Juan Cole, a blogger and professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan, has come up with an intriguing idea for how to fill the deplomacy gap in the Middle East. He wants to hire skilled linguists to translate into Arabic the classic works of American political thought—especially those works that deal with freedom of religion, division of powers, sovereignty of the people, and equal rights. He has in mind the essays and speeches of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Tom Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King Jr., and Susan B. Anthony; a solid history of American Jews and other minority groups; maybe a few good books, written by American historians, about Iraq. Cole also wants to subsidize Middle Eastern publishers to print these books in large numbers and at low prices, and he wants to pay fees to book dealers throughout the region—just as publishers pay Borders and Barnes & Noble here—to display the books prominently.

Think it can work?

He's already got an organization built, which is more than we can say for many American politicians...

President Bush protest at Oklahoma State

My alma mater, Oklahoma State, landed President Bush for its graduation-day speech. (read here) That’s the first president we’ve had to give a speech since the other Bush. For our graduation, I think we had a veterinarian who performed the first blind-folded horse castration.

Anyway, already the Young Democrats on campus are organizing a protest and so-called Democrats are coming out of the woodworks, saying “we need to show Bush he is not fully supported in Oklahoma and not everybody here supports the war in Iraq.” Now I’m not a big-city lawyer or anything, but the last place you want to protest President Bush is outside an Oklahoma State graduation. Get this, 77 Oklahoma counties voted for Bush and there are maybe 2,000 anti-Bush folks in the whole state. A good portion of OSU grads grew up on farms and have Republican blood. With that said, don’t be surprised to hear about a bunch of Okie Democrats with broken legs after a group of masked cowboys beat the crap out of them. I’m all about free speech. Hell, I might even hold a sign at an anti-Bush protest. But I wouldn’t do it at an OSU graduation.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Canadian soldiers

In this article, the paper told the news in the first paragraph, which was four Canadians were killed Afghanistan, and then honored the soldiers. Like the American-driven stories in the MSM, the daily list of bad things and the overall "why are we there" are present in the article. But what sticks out is that those things are at the bottom of the story and the soldiers' history and sacrifice were are at the top. The article is a good example of how a very potentially negative story can become balanced. That aside, I for one will be thinking about these four brave Canadians... your sacrifice will be rememebered.

"It is without doubt an incredibly difficult day today ... We have lost four members of our family, this very close family of the Canadian Forces, four incredible Canadians," Gen. Rick Hillier, the chief of defence staff, said yesterday.

"We lost four good men who loved what they were doing," said Hillier, who cancelled plans to visit Afghanistan this week to be on hand when the bodies are returned to Canada Tuesday night.

"Obviously, every man and woman who is part of our contingent in Afghanistan is shaken, but their resolve is not," he told a news conference at defence headquarters yesterday afternoon.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Milblog conference

As many of you know, I will be speaking at the first Milblog Conference. You can view it live. I'll be the guy with long hair...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

There are days I search through my old photos, to relive Iraq. And occasionally, I come across a photo that surprises me, even though I took it. Above is a Polish officer with an Iraqi construction worker. The room you see here is a former jail cell. 100 prisoners were once crammed in this very room.  Posted by Picasa

Restaurants serving soldiers overseas

Eating a Burger King Whopper or a Subway foot-long reminds Capt. Bill Roberts of home. Stationed in Baghdad, the New York-native occasionally skips Army chow and treats himself to the same foods he enjoyed at his local mall’s food court.

“If it weren’t for the fact that everyone is armed and the guards check everyone’s ID before they go in and the large barrier walls around the exterior, it would be like going to a small shopping center back home,” Roberts said. “Getting a Whopper with cheese and fries can make a world of difference in morale for someone who has been out in the sandbox for awhile.”

The restaurants where Roberts eats are facilitated by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), which is the military’s equivalent to Wal-Mart. On almost every U.S. base, AAFES has a department and grocery store with QSRs nearby, even in a combat zone.

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