Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

A Great American

10 Comments

13 July 2008

The news came to me in Nepal that Tony Snow had died. The words came with a jolt followed by sorrow. The best that can be said about any American is that he died in service to the people of the United States of America, and to our friends beyond our borders. Tony Snow did just that. Though Tony must have been in pain, his correspondence to me was always upbeat and positive and wise. The President chose well with Tony. He will be missed, but his service will be felt. Tony Snow was a Great American, whose spirit is stronger now than ever before.

 

The River - Part II

24 Comments

 

The Irrawaddy River in Myanmar, with the location where each photograph in this dispatch was taken.  Red marks the path of the journey.

 

“It had become a place of darkness. But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body curving at rest afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land.”

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


Journey Into Darkness

July 2008

There were informers everywhere. In the hotels, in the restaurants, near the docks and on the river. And so, in addition to the natural dangers of the journey, there were the dangers of the military junta.

The team would consist of eight people: seven Burmese and one American. I was supposed to be part of the team, but was stuck in Thailand after having been refused a visa.

At the arranged time, on 10 June, the first coded message pinged out from the American, whom I will call Charlie Marlow. "Charlie" was in Yangon when he sent the message to "Translator", who contacted "Manager", who contacted "Cook", as well as the four other crew members. At about 10:30 p.m., all had assembled in the darkness on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. The Burmese Navy was patrolling the Irrawaddy further downstream, and a number of foreign journalists had been recently deported after broadcasting embarrassing stories from the delta. There were stern warnings to the locals not to facilitate entry or movement of foreigners to the region. There was talk that the military had stationed at least one soldier in nearly every village to report on any contact with outsiders.

Read more: The River - Part II

On Joe Galloway

59 Comments

26 June 2008

I read Joe Galloway’s columns and often disagree with him. But Joe usually makes points that deserve consideration. Joe is not weak or weak-minded; I’ve told him to his face that he’s a mean old man. But I respect Joe. He has fought in pitched combat side-by-side with our troops. Joe thinks we’re losing the Iraq War and I believe we’re winning. Even though we disagree about Iraq, Joe and I both believe that torture is wrong.

Read more: On Joe Galloway

The River

8 Comments

Journey into Darkness

Part I of II

 

 

 

One man’s devil is another man’s demon

 

June 2008

Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore

Cyclone Nargis was born over the Bay of Bengal on April 27, 2008. Just five days later it swept through Myanmar. The military rulers of Myanmar estimate that some 134,000 people are dead or missing, while others believe the numbers to be much higher. Due to the secretive policies of the regime, the world may never know the extent of damage and loss of life caused by the cyclone.

Not only has the junta kept the truth from its own people and the rest of the world, they also turned back nearly all foreign aid and restricted media access. The silence of its reclusive and mysterious leader Senior General Than Schwe was sickening. A stunned international community was poised to respond with significant aid resources if the junta would just open their country to the outside world. Instead, the generals demonstrated that maintaining power, and perhaps just saving face, was more important to them than anything, even their own people’s lives.

Read more: The River

Return to Action

25 Comments

Some updates:

I have left the United States and am heading back to the war.

Heavy promotion of Moment of Truth in Iraq is over. I conducted approximately 100 radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews, therefore was unable to do much more than track the war from afar. There are more radio interviews scheduled, but I’ll be talking from downrange. Moment of Truth in Iraq hit #6 on the Amazon bestseller list, and #2 on Barnes and Noble, which greatly surprised me.

Read more: Return to Action

Townhall

3 Comments An important new magazine called Townhall is making an incredible offer. For just $34.95, you get 12 months of Townhall plus a FREE copy of Moment of Truth in Iraq (while supplies last; the books are going fast). Click here to subscribe to Townhall and receive a free copy of my book Please make sure to at least look at the current issue of Townhall magazine, which is hitting newsstands this week. I wrote the cover story about our incredible progress in Iraq.

An Open Offer to U.S. Senators

47 Comments

One of the biggest problems with the Iraq War is that politics has frequently triumphed over truth. For instance, we went into Iraq with shoddy intelligence (at best), no reconstruction plan, and perhaps half as many troops as were required. We refused to admit that an insurgency was growing, until the country collapsed into anarchy and civil war. Now the truth is that Iraq is showing real progress on many fronts: Al Qaeda is being defeated and violence is down and continuing to decrease. As a result, the militias have lost their reason for existence and are getting beaten back or co-opted. Shia, Sunni and Kurds are coming together -- although with various stresses -- under the national government. If progress continues at this rate, it is very possible that before 2008 is out, we can finally say "the war has ended." Yes, likely there still will be some American casualties, but if the violence continues to drop and the Iraqi government consolidates its gains, we will be able, in good conscience, to begin bringing more of our people home. I will be paying very close attention to the words of Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, who is replacing General Petraeus as the overall commander in Iraq.

Read more: An Open Offer to U.S. Senators

Great Americans: David Leimbach Comes Home

4 Comments

On Memorial Day, I published an email from Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey Mellinger describing the memorial in Afghanistan for Spc David L. Leimbach.

When I published that tribute, I didn't know just how dedicated this Great American was. I've been in communication with a member of David's family who told me that David had done a tour in Afghanistan with the South Carolina National Guard, yet when their tour ended, 120 members of the Guard unit volunteered to stay behind in Afghanistan or go to Iraq. David was one of those soldiers. Please see this article for more: http://www.militarycity.com/valor/3551124.html

Read more: Great Americans: David Leimbach Comes Home

Investigation Launched

7 Comments

The House Committee on Armed Services is investigating claims made by the New York Times. The New York Times claimed that retired Generals were co-opted by the Department of Defense to spread what amounted to propaganda throughout U.S. media to sell the Iraq war. The following letter from General (ret.) Barry R. McCaffrey is in response to a direct inquiry about his actions during this time. I've seen much of General (ret.) McCaffrey's work and it would be difficult to imagine he was part of any propaganda; McCaffrey has been extremely critical about much of the war. I consider him a very reliable source.

Read more: Investigation Launched

In Memory of SPC David Lee Leimbach

36 Comments
CSM Jeff Mellinger is out there still "Walking the Line." He did the longest continuous tour in Iraq that I have ever seen: 33 plus months without a break except for normal leave. And he was seriously out in the red zone. I drove about 4,000 miles with him within Iraq checking on our servicemen and women, Walking the Line, and that was a tiny fraction of the work he did. And so he came back to the United States and is stationed in Washington D.C., but CSM Mellinger's duties have taken him back to Iraq and Afghanistan. I got an email from CSM Mellinger this morning from Afghanistan. He was remembering SPC David Lee Leimbach, the latest Great American to give his life in Afghanistan fighting dark forces that wish to do us great harm.

Read more: In Memory of SPC David Lee Leimbach

Memorial Day

2 Comments

Greetings this Memorial Day. I'm spending this important day quietly with friends in Florida. It was with these friends, just over four years ago, that I attended the funeral of our mutual high school buddy. Scott was an ex-Navy SEAL who was murdered along with other contractors in Fallujah in early 2004. We'll spend this day not at a big party, but in quiet remembrance of Scott and so many others who have lost their lives on battlefields around the world.

Read more: Memorial Day

Distributor Refuses to Carry "Moment of Truth in Iraq" on Military Bases

33 Comments
Folks are asking why "Moment of Truth in Iraq" is not being carried on most military bases within the United States.

Here's why:

My publisher and literary agent have been working with the private companies who handle book distribution on military bases in order to get "Moment of Truth in Iraq" on their shelves. The process is arduous, to put it mildly.

Read more: Distributor Refuses to Carry "Moment of Truth in Iraq" on Military Bases

Verbal assaults directed at uniformed [military] personnel

65 Comments

Washington D.C.

Dept of Transportation Federal Transit Administration sends:

Recently, there have been local incidents in which military personnel have been verbally assaulted while commuting on the Metro. Uniformed members have been approached by individuals expressing themselves as anti-government, shouting anti-war sentiments, and using racial slurs against minorities.

In one instance, a member was followed onto the platform by an individual who continued to berate her as she exited the
metro station. Thus far, these incidents have occurred in the vicinity of the Reagan National Airport and Eisenhower Ave metro stations on the yellow line, however, military members should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times while in mass transit.

Read more: Verbal assaults directed at uniformed [military] personnel

Michael Moore’s Crime

88 Comments

 

Now here’s Michael Moore, the latest infringer, using my work for his own crude political purposes. I recall some years ago watching one of his movies in Paris, and thinking how sad it was that an American would make propaganda so flagrant that it seemed pornographic. It was sad but at the same time uplifting, because Mr. Moore was able to exercise his right to free speech, rights that should never be infringed upon.

Read more: Michael Moore’s Crime

Moment of Truth in Iraq - Chapter One

5 Comments

C H A P T E R O N E

 

Be Not Afraid
You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.
Be not afraid. I go before you always;
Come follow me, and I will give you rest.

FROM A PRAYER CARD I FOUND ON A BASE IN ANBAR PROVINCE, IRAQ
Please click here to read and/or download the entire first chapter of Moment of Truth in Iraq. At the end of the first chapter we have placed the handout for bookstore managers, librarians, or military exchanges. Please feel free to copy the first chapter as is and the handout.

Update

8 Comments

Some folks have asked if I plan to do book signings in stores. None are planned because I need to take care of business here before heading back to the war, but I have been making dozens of media appearances and many more are scheduled this month. The big issue at hand is the launch of my book Moment of Truth in Iraq. Doesn't do any good to spend all that time on the battlefields if I do not take time to convey the facts to folks at home.

I'll try to sign one more gigantic stack of Moment of Truth before heading back to the war, but for those folks who were buying signed copies for Christmas presents, now is the best time as we still have about a thousand signed copies.

Amazon.com is fully stocked and has the lowest current price--$17.97 today.

Moment of Truth is available at all Barnes & Noble stores and at BN.com at a reduced price. Please click the link and enter your zip code to check availability of Moment of Truth in Iraq at nearby stores. This function maps nearby stores with copies in stock.

Great to be back in America but sure comes with a lot of work before heading back to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Next time you see a service member in an airport, please say "thank you" to him or her. Those simple words go a long, long way. Back in the war, I often have heard combat soldiers saying how good it made them feel when someone in an airport simply said "thank you" and kept on walking. Very powerful words. They hugely appreciate those words.

Your correspondent,

Michael

To bring peace to the Afghans, talk to the Taleban

25 Comments

Planes, Trains, Armored Trucks, and Afghanistan

Instead of “planes, trains, and automobiles,” my trip from western Nineveh to Mosul, to Erbil, to Vienna, to Stuttgart, to Atlanta, to El Paso, and then to Florida was much more interesting. It included helicopters, armored pickup trucks, trains, buses, cars and numerous jets. And the “fun” has just begun. After Florida there will be Washington, D.C., and then back to the war. As always, I beg forgiveness for the great difficulty I have responding to emails.

In addition to all the travel there is also the endless homework. A big challenge has been finding reliable sources whether they be military, political, or journalistic. I’ve located another source whom I pay attention to regarding Afghanistan. Former British military officer and ITN reporter, Adam Holloway MP is now on the Defence Select Committee. I’ve mentioned Mr. Holloway in my 2006 dispatches on Afghanistan, after having met him on a remote airfield in Afghanistan. He’s a very smart man with an eye for truth about the war: good, bad and the ugly. In Afghanistan it’s mostly the bad and ugly. Mr. Holloway has written an important piece at www.spectator.co.uk. : To bring peace to the Afghans, talk to the Taleban.

What Mr. Holloway is proposing might cause nervous twitches – perhaps spasms – in America and in the United Kingdom. But I know for a fact that he’s paying close attention to Afghanistan. After I first met him there in 2006, I learned through a source that Mr. Holloway financed his own second secret trip to the hinterlands so that he could avoid the dog and pony show of an official visit. In December 2007, when I visited the U.K., an important part of the trip that I have not previously mentioned was that I met with Mr. Holloway numerous times to discuss Afghanistan.

The United Kingdom is a critical partner in the Afghan war. Mr. Holloway’s controversial article deserves serious consideration and discussion. Furthermore, this Member of Parliament is willing to open a direct line to citizen-voices from the United States, and so with his permission, Mr. Holloway’s email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Recurring and one-time gifts are available through PayPal or Authorize.net.

supp

supp

subscribe

My BitCoin QR Code

This is for use with BitCoin apps:

189

You can now help support the next dispatch with bitcoins:

Donate Bitcoins