April 14, 2009

The blogging process has been a truly unique experience.  I have never considered blogging before class but now that I have started I realize what it is all about.  In my opinion blogging is about getting the story from the horse’s mouth.  Real contact with people, real connections, and real stories.

            Although I can’t say that I love blogging or that I will continue for the rest of my days I can say with the utmost certainty that I will blog again. It may not be about war but I will do it again.  I would imagine that I would proffer cheese sandwich blogs opposed to war blogs.

            Another thing that has blown my mind through this process is the RSS application.  I had no idea prior to this class that such and amazing information generator existed.  The RSS reader will be a staple throughout the rest of my academic career.  The possibilities are endless and its easy use will allow me to find articles that other wise would be unfindable.

            Another thing that I have grown to love about blogging is the language.  Its loose an colloquial.  It’s the language of the common man and it is relieving to be able to write in that manner.  I believe that blogs are, as the Aviator would say, the way of the future.  I think over time they will become the way stories are broke and will eventually become a multi-million dollar industry.

            Overall blogging was not my favorite thing to do, evident in my last minute posting.  However that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy looking at my page and seeing all of those posts that I worked so hard on.  If there is one solid thing I learned throughout this process is that blogging is the most personable way to write and it is the best way to convey opinions and beliefs. 



April 14, 2009

            The conflict between Israel and Palestine has been raging for decades.  After reading “A Long Way Gone” I have seen similarities between the retaliatory natures of the two conflicts.  At the heart of this post is the speech mad by Ishmael at the UN conference.

            I am from Sierra Leon, and the problem that is affecting us children is the war that forces us to run away from are homes, lose our families, and aimlessly roam the forests.  As a result, we get involved in the conflict as soldiers, carriers of loads, and in many other difficult tasks.


            This is very similar to the situation between Israel and Palestine.  A recent BBC article highlights a Palestinian who was shot dead for trying to run over officers guarding the destruction of a home.  The home was being destroyed because it is a policy of Israel to destroy the home of people that attack Israel.  The Palestinians and the Israelis are losing there homes and there families and in Palestine they are force to roam aimlessly once those things are gone.  Those circumstances eventually lead youth to joining the conflict. 

            Ishmael speaks to the cycle of violence at the end of his speech at the UN


            What I have learned from my experience is that revenge is not good.  I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I’ve come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge and revenge will never come to an end…


            The cycle of violence that Ishmael experienced is very similar to the cycle that is currently going on in the Israel/ Palestine conflict.  Recently Israel killed some 1,200 civilians depending on who is reporting the information and based on the history of this conflict this will only bring about Palestinian responces and the Israeli ones.  It is hard to understand that a 15 year old boy can grasp this concept after a little more then 3 years of civil war and two countries haven’t learn this in a half century.  I understand that the issues go deeper into religious claims to property but both sides would be well served to read “A Long Way Gone.”

BBC article

Spin and Monkeys

April 14, 2009

            “Spin” the story from The Things They Carried reminds me of a war blog called “Holly Crap!! A Monkey.”  In Spin O’Brien talk about how


            “war wasn’t all terror and violence.”


In “Spin” the soldiers play checkers to pass the time, give one legged kids chocolate, send envelopes full of lice to the draft board, take drugs, teaching locals the rain dance, run off with red cross nurses, and blowing up puppies.  All of which are events in war that are happy memories in an unhappy time.  In the Afghanistan war soldiers play with monkeys.

            In this blog the solider is radioed that the guards have a monkey so he grabs his camera and goes to investigate.  Upon arrival he sees a small monkey on a 10 foot chain.  The monkey is in his words “a puppy on steroids.”  It unvelcro’s everything on his jacket, bites his hands and runs around like a mad man.  He takes note of the monkey’s hands and how it has little finger prints.

            Stories about ordinary life continuing in extraordinary circumstances have been a theme throughout all are reading.  Regardless of where soldiers are they always find some semblance of home, some small eccentricity to quell their nerves and there boredom. 

            In this blog and in the Story the youthful soldiers make due with the surrounding and find ways to entertain themselves.  I find this remarkable because I do not know if I could approach day to day life in a war zone the way that most soldiers seem to.  I do not know if this is a coping mechanism or just a result of the resiliency of the dynamic human sprit but whatever the cause is it is amazing.  The thought of playing with a monkey or playing checkers when the possibility of death looms around every corner is something special.  However these are just boys and maybe that is the cause of this “Spin.”  In regards to the monkey I believe it is still in good health.  I just hope they don’t blow it up like the puppy in “Spin.”  


            Holy Crap its A Monkey

Nazi in Ohio

April 14, 2009

The USA Today reported that an alleged Nazi death camp guard, John Demjanjuk, is being deported to Germany to face charges as an accessory to some 29,000 deaths. These crimes happened at the Sobibor camp in Nazi controlled Poland in 1943.
Demjanjuk immigrated to the US after the war and attained citizenship in 1958 and it was revoked in 1981. Then he was charged with war crime and extradited to Israel in 1986 and found guilty of crimes against humanity. Upon appeal he was released and allowed to return to the US in 1998 when his citizenship was restored. Then in 2002 his citizenship was revoked again by the state department once again claiming that he was involved with Nazi death camps. Now he is appealing an immigration appeals board ruling that allows Demjanjuk to be deported to face his crimes.
This story is amazing because it provides some semblance of justice to all of those withering faces that we have seen in the holocaust videos and the books we have read. All of the survivors who were treated so horrendously can have a little payback.

“We knew the stories—that they will gas us/ and throw us in the ovens. This was 1944… We knew everything. And here we were.”

Now Mr. Demjanjuk or “Ivan the Terrible” as he was called can finally
understand those powerful words from Maus. He has undoubtedly heard the stories of what happens to Nazi who are convicted of war crimes. This is 2009 and he will soon be there, back in Germany and will be forced to answer for his crime.
This story reminds me of the circular nature of the writings we have read, this all started in the 1940 and finally the story has come full circle and the guard will soon become the captor and the German people will once again play the role of judge, jury, and executioner.

Nazi story

Bad to Worse and Worse to Bad

April 14, 2009

            The pod cast “Alive in Baghdad” recently ran a story on the hospitals of Iraq and the problems they are facing.  This story immediately reminded me of Oliver Stone’s classic Born on The Fourth of July.  The similarities are frightening.  The only difference is that these hospitals are not just for members of the military, like in the movie; these are Iraq’s general hospitals for the entirety of its population. 

            The difference between the two is that through-out the movie the conditions are worsening in the Hospital.  Initially when Tom Cruzes character gets injured he I taken care of relatively well.  He gets regular physical therapy, and has his diagnosis given to him by a seemingly legitimate doctor.  However by the time Cruz’s character breaks his leg it’s a different story.  I remember him yelling “I need a bath” and “I shit my pants!”  The situation deterioration increases rapidly once the new doctor is introduced.  Cruz’s characters pump that is attached to his leg breaks and he is told that without the pump he will loose his leg, so the doctor as ridiculous as it is, goes down to the basement to look for something to use instead.  

            In Iraq the hospitals are similar in terms of capabilities and overall service; however the situation is going from worse to bad instead of bad to worse.  This is a subtle difference but a major one. 

            In the pod cast the first thing I was struck by is how alike the rooms look.  The beds look akin to the ones in the movie and so do the rooms.   The only major difference was brighter lights and the absence of an anti-Vietnam staff.  The reasons behind the struggling hospitals in Iraq are obvious, bombing, looting, and theft just to name a few.  This is the opposite of the reasons behind the deteriorating hospitals in the movie which were lack of funding because we were too busy bombing other countries. 

            There are other factors that affected Iraq’s health care system.  One being the mass exodus of doctors and surgeons as the violence became too great.  Other problems like mass damage to hospitals as a result of ill advised bombing and sectarian violence.  Even to this day hospitals remain a target.  An unforeseen factor is water, or to be more specific the lack there of.  The absence of clear water readily available to the population and the health care industry presents a serious and two-fold problem.  This problem is quickly developing into a cholera epidemic.

            The hope for Iraq is a resurgence of intellectuals that left with the “brain drain” that proceeded the fall.  With enough doctors the Iraqi’s are determined to restore the “spine of the Iraq government.

            Alive in Baghdad

The Shoe Chucker and the General

March 24, 2009

            The General is a sweet and to the point poem by Siegfried Sassoon.  This poem reminded me of the infamous shoe assassin.  I am referring to the incident that occurred in Iraq on a glorious mid December day; the odd-job like assault attempt on President Bush by Muntar al-Zaidi.  A basic run down of the scenario is that President Bush was addressing the Iraqi press and Muntar in a fit of rage threw both of his shoes a Bush narrowly missing. 


            This international incident started very similarly to the beginning of the poem


‘Good-morning; good-morning!’ the General said


            Probably similar to the gibberish Bush spat out with a Texas accent.


“When we met him last week on our way to the line./ Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ‘em dead,/ And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.


            So far it seems pretty accurate.  Muntar more then likely lost friends and loved ones during the invasion and he describes his act as


“a natural response to occupation.”


Sassoon’s poem goes on to say


“He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack/ As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack/ But he did for them both by his plan of attack.


            The similarities are astounding.  Bush does seem like a “cheery old card.” Bush makes up words on the regular which has to be fun, spent 40% of his presidency on vacation, and he definitely did Iraq in with his plan of attack.  Bush caused this one man so much hatred because he was the ‘General’ that he threw his shoes at him.  Once again just like the story Muntar is SOL just like Harry and Jack because he was sentenced to 3 years in prison for throwing a shoe.  The case is being appealed but in the court of public opinion he has already won with 60% of Iraqis considering him a hero.  So in summation, who throws a shoe? Honestly!


Shoe attacker on the BBC

Boys at War

March 24, 2009

            Wilfred Owen is the master of anti-war poetry and a favorite of mine.  In Arms And The Boy he speaks about boys and war.  The poem starts off saying


“let the boy try along this bayonet-blade/ How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;/ Blue with all malice, like a madman’s flash;


            Owens speaks about how we let are children play with toy guns and knifes and play war.  This poem reminded me of a military blog that really showed me that the men fighting overseas really are Boys.

            The author of the blog was going on a routine mission to check out three clinics.  The fist two clinics go by no problem, but in route to the third the 3rd clinic the road they are on dead ends.  So they turn around and try to drive through the old dirt road graveyard that they drove on to get the first clinics.  So there driving through the graveyard and the first MRAP gets stuck.  So the MRAP the author is in drives past and everyone starts yelling.  So they obviously think they are about to get stuck so they back up.  Turns out they had already went over the whole everyone was yelling about and backed right into it. 

            This funny, quirky story from Afghanistan to me shows how young our soldiers really are. Owen says in the final lines of the poem


“For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple./ There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple;/ And God will grow no talons at his heels,/ nor antlers through the thickness of his curls.


            This story just really hammers home how we send the youth of our nation of to a foreign land to fight a foreign enemy equally as young.  The boys in this story had a good laugh at themselves in a war zone and if that doesn’t prove that they are just boys with arms noting else will.


MRAPs and Graveyards don’t mix

Absurdity of war

March 24, 2009

The bombing of Dreseden produced the largest casualties of WWII and was kept secret from the American public because in Rumfoord words


“fear that a lot of bleeding hears might not think it was such a wonderful thing to do.” 


            Today the death tolls are never as high as they were back then because of nuclear weapons and conventional war fair is supposed to have largely ended.  Yet how can we reconcile that statement with the large death tolls in Israel’s latest excursion into the West Bank.  In a recent report the U.N. special rapporteur for the Palestine on human rights Richard Falk has labeled the 22-day conflict a


“massive assault on a densely populated urbanise setting.”


Falk went on to say the attacks were unlawful because they were launched on targets that could not be distinguished as military or civilian.  Falk states that Israel specificly targeted

            “schools, masques, and ambulances.”


The death toll in Palestine was put at around 1400 most of which were women and children.  Whether it is Dresden of Palestine or the body count is 1400 or 140,000 the absurdity of the matter is as real as it was in Vonnegut’s day.  In all the dialogue between Rumfoord and Billy not much is said.  The culmination of the Dresden story was a few lines

“It had to be done,” said Rumfoord

“I know” said Billy

“That’s war”

“I know. I’m not complaining”

“It must have been hell on the ground.”

“It was” said Billy

“Pity the men who had to do it.”

“I do.”

“You must have had mixed feelings, there on the ground.”

“It was all right,” said Billy. “Everything is all right, and everybody had to do exactly what he does.”


Although nothing is really said in the conversation they destroyed a city of no military significance; killed virtually only civilians yet it “had to be done,” absurd.  This is very similar to what happened in Palestine.  A totally of 13 Israelis were killed and they responded by leveling a city, murdering 940 civilians, and sending Palestine back to the stone ages, absurd.  The BBC had a story that fully spoke to the absurdity of this conflict.  In the article it cites a U.N. report that accuses the Israelis of using children as human shields.  Allegedly having the children go first in to buildings and open packages.  Israel has denied these allegations but the mere fact that they are present just speaks to how ridiculous all of these nations and people have acted through-out history and Vonnegut did a masterful job of portraying this.  The conversation and the way Slaughter House was written all speak to the absurdity of war.  Although i doubt it will every end…..So it goes.

BBC article

Al Jazeera article


Epic Rhetoric

March 24, 2009

Watch more YouTube videos on AOL Video

Sean Hannity is one of the foremost conservative ideologue in America and his show Hannity’s America delivers his message flawlessly.  Through-out the last few weeks Hannity has opened his show with these seemingly doomsday montages of President Obama and other Democrats set to dramatic music like Lux Aeterna, made famous in Requiem for a Dream, and other music from epic motion pictures. 


This music sets a tone to the material just like the Marine and Army recruiting commercials do.  In both there is propaganda and rhetoric conveyed by the music playing in the background. In the Army and Marine commercials the music conveys honor, courage, patriotism, and strength.  In Hannity’s montages convey rampant fear as if Lord Sauron himself is storming Pennsylvania ave. as we speak. 


In this particular video “Socialism we can believe in” the music is epic and paints the democrats as the destroyers of America.  Despite all my research I could not quite put my finger on the composer of this peace despite its popularity. The music has that same parallel structure and ads and immense dramatic effect to the piece; as much as it offends me as an intelligent person it is quit brilliant.


 I believe that this blatant use of propaganda and rhetoric found in both the military commercials and in Hannity’s America dangerous and misleading, and so did Owens.  Owens himself was a victim of his work being used to promote an agenda, in his time the war effort, and these artists too are having there works bent by the will of powerful men.  In the end all I can do is have faith that the loyal viewers of Hannity’s America can hear through the music and realize that politics isn’t Hollywood and epically evil music doesn’t make those in the corresponding video right or wrong.





Google Reader Feeds

January 20, 2009

            These are the feed I have chosen for my Google reader subscriptions and a short explanation of why I have chosen them.


            Alive in Baghdad: This pod cast shows the lives of everyday Iraqi’s and is produced by Iraqi journalists in association with American correspondents.  This pod cast will show me what life is really like in Iraq and will give me a personal look at day to day life that a news organization wouldn’t.


            BBC News Middle East:  The BBC is world renowned for its excellence in journalism and its impartiality.  I have always held the BBC with the highest regard and I believe this feed will give me opinions and stories that would not be readily available to me from American news agencies.


            Fox News:  I chose Fox because it is a mostly conservative news agency.  This feed will give me a point of view that, in general, is in stark contrast to my own.  Fox will give me a distinctly conservative and American take on world events.


            Israel and Palestine Conflict search query: I chose this search because there is always an abundance of news on this conflict and it will allow me to get a grasp and understanding behind the history and hopefully the future of this ongoing conflict.


    This is a great feed because it literally puts me inside of the soldiers’ mind.  It gives me a grasp of what it is like on the ground no matter where a soldier is stationed.  It also gives me an understanding of what how the soldiers are feeling about the war, about missing home, and about trivial matters as well.  This blog covers a wide variety of issues and that is why it is a great feed.


            USA Today:  I chose this news agency because tends to be in the middle as far as ideology goes.  I believe that I can get a general understanding of a given situation and use other more partisan feeds to understand both sides of the story.


            Al Jazeera Middle East and America:  I have picked this feed to get an entirely different perspective on world news.  I believe Al Jazeera will, in most cases, will serve as a polar opposite to fox news. It will also give me a perspective on situations that I would not be able to get from any American news organization.  I chose to subscribe to both their Middle East and American feed to get a grasp on how they feel about America and our relationship with the rest of the world.


            This is the first time that I have ever used or even heard of the Google reader or any other RSS application.  I am astounded at the amount of information that it gathers and places at my finger tips.  This is truly a ground breaking application and I am sure I will use this long after this semester ends.