Michael's Dispatches

Af-Pak Reporting

19 August 2008

Michael Yon

By now, no credible person denies the dramatic success that continues to manifest itself in Iraq. No doubt, there will be years of political dramas ahead for that country, and when they occur, we will blame ourselves for them, as is our habit. Americans have a tendency to blame ourselves nearly everything from wildfires to genocidal wars on the other side of the globe. And what we don't blame ourselves for, others will. Some might see our ability to take initiative and shoulder responsibility as naiveté. I think it's one of America's greatest strengths.

Many people around the world see America in decline. As someone who travels a great deal, I see the opposite. America is just getting started. Yes, we face enormous challenges and dangerous enemies. But the soul of our country, the initiative of our people, and the depth of the collective intelligence are all far stronger than our critics, and even many Americans, imagine. Al Qaeda thought that America would fall to her knees after 9/11. They were wrong. Today we hunt them like jackals.

Of course, the Iraq war has led some to think that the United States has committed a tragic imperial overreach. Saddam Hussein was an evil tyrant, a truth widely accepted by the international community. Yet the international community can do little about evil tyrants. They leave that up to us, complaining when we do nothing and criticizing when we take action.

However history finally judges him, President Bush will be remembered for two decisions. In 2003, he invaded Iraq. And in 2006, he did not surrender.

Whether or not the first decision was right seems difficult to answer definitively without falling back onto ideological bias, partisan politics, or wishful thinking. Reasonable people likely will disagree about that decision for as long as the event is remembered. If Iraq falls apart or again becomes a tyrant state, then Bush was a brash, imperialistic President invading a sovereign nation without cause, who made things worse and spent lots of money and lives in doing so. If Iraq becomes a stable and prosperous nation even vaguely similar to the United Arab Emirates or Qatar, then most fair-minded people likely will judge Mr. Bush as a little-understood visionary who paid a moderate price to dramatically improve an important region of the world.

But few reasonable people who have been paying attention can disagree that the second decision was correct. In January 2007, one prominent Senator predicted that the Surge would only deepen the sectarian conflict in Iraq. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there: In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Now it's difficult to tell exactly what Senator Obama thinks about the Surge, for each remark he makes on the subject seems to veer in a different direction without ever actually going anywhere.

Please remember all those politicians and journalists who insisted that splitting Iraq into three parts was the only way. Meanwhile, those of us who were actually in Iraq kept insisting that the idea of splitting Iraq was ridiculous. There is no substitute for being on the ground over a sustained period.

History will show that after five years and more than four thousand American lives, we have proved that we never planned to steal Iraq's oil. To see a real war for oil, one need only look at what Russia is doing in Georgia. Vladimir Putin's Russia is reminding the world how much it needs America.

Sure, we made mistakes in Iraq, and we will continue to make mistakes in the future—there, in Afghanistan, and anywhere we dare to venture. But if we didn't try, the world would quickly turn to chaos and tyranny. The world is filled with extremely powerful weapons, and criminal-minded leaders who would use those weapons against any weaker nation who has something they want. America is the only country on Earth with power, will, and good intentions (at least, most of the time). That is why we are the indispensable nation.

Today, through perseverance, military courage, and increasingly smart strategy and politics, the Coalition has won the war in Iraq. Iraq has a chance to emerge from its bloody past. Having new BMWs and Mercedes bought with oil money does not make a country modern. Yet Iraq now has the chance to lead their people into the promise of a new life, and inspire their neighbors toward positive change.

What Iraq does now is largely up the Iraqis. They will have dramas, for which the world likely will blame the United States. But ultimately, the Iraqis now control their own future. This is what freedom means. It's not easy, and nothing's guaranteed. But at least the Iraqis have got a serious chance. If the Iraqis have the intelligence and will to seize the day, they will emerge as a powerful force in the Middle East with close ties to the West.

Looking back on the Iraq war, for all the attention the media paid, their reporting was anything but balanced. The outcome of the war was being negatively affected by irresponsible journalism, some of which was intentionally misleading. We truly could have lost the Iraq war due in large part to journalistic travesties. That we won the war despite the media demonstrates just how great our soldiers are. And let’s never forget the price that the British and others paid, like the Poles, and even the Georgians.

An unintended consequence of the Iraq war was that we ignored Afghanistan/Pakistan, where things only got worse. Now many are calling Af-Pak "The Good War," but let's see how long that lasts. Our NATO allies hide behind the sturdy legs of the United States and Great Britain, who do most of the real fighting in Afghanistan, just as they did in Iraq.

Now that media attention is turning back to the Af-Pak war, let's hope that the sum of their reporting will be more informed and less biased than what came out of Iraq. If the Iraq model is followed again, the Western politicians will say whatever is expedient, bending to popular pressure created by the media, many of whom understand the bending of truth better than Einstein understood the bending of light.

Meanwhile, the press will meander around like a herd of buffalo, occasionally stampeding in unison off a cliff, and taking public perception with them to the jagged rocks below.

My recent month-long walk in the Himalayan Mountains served as a buffer between Iraq and Af-Pak. We won the Iraq war, and now it's down to relatively sporadic violence and the arguments about what we should do with all of our troops and enormous amounts of gear still remaining. Little doubt, many of those troops will soon be in Afghanistan. But if there was not enough firsthand reporting from Iraq, there promises to be even less in Af-Pak. This front likely will not end as quickly, or as neatly, as Iraq. It could take decades. And we could still lose.

I have just left Nepal and landed in Bangkok, en route to Kabul. My plan is to spend some time in Afghanistan, head back over to Iraq in late September, then possibly return to Afghanistan before the year's end. In any case, I plan to keep my boots in Iraq and Afghanistan through the U.S. elections.

The last time I headed to Afghanistan, I spent far more money than I earned. Folks just didn't seem to care about that war. I am willing to stick it out, and have already proven that willingness in Iraq, but I simply will be unable to do so without generous reader support. These days support is scant. Folks seem to think I got rich off Moment of Truth in Iraq (I didn't). There will probably be no independent journalists who spend more than a month or so in Af-Pak during any given year. Same with the mainstream reporters I know. This means there will be almost no firsthand reporting from the Af-Pak battlefields, and less than a trickle comes to today. If readers want me there, I'll commit, but reader support is absolutely critical. I can't do it without you, and your support is needed TODAY. I should be in Afghanistan later this week.

Comments   

 
0 # Juan 2008-08-19 06:16
Glad to see you're headed to the Stan Mike. Good luck and god speed there. Watch your ass.
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0 # Gismo 2008-08-19 11:33
Dear Mike,

Steady as you go! With Musharraf gone things can only get worse in Waziristan and across the Pakistani border. I have a son and two nephews in Afghanistan, serving in the forces of the Crown, so I'll tell them to look out for a good looking Yank.

Grin :-))

Regards,
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0 # Greg from USA 2008-08-19 11:52
Hi Mike,
Hang in there. I just made a donation. As this war ramps up after the election and becomes part of public consciousness, more donations should roll in.

With NATO in the driver seat, this is going to be a long hard slog. General Petraeus will adapt the winning Iraq strategy to fit Afghanistan, but this is the Taliban's and Al Qaeda's home turf. Combined with uneducated masses, this will slow the flow of the secure oilspots. Hopefully Afghan memories are not so short that they forget the hell theTaliban visited on them for years. Raising their kids under the Taliban robs them of their future by guaranteeing perpetual war.

Greg from USA

Greg
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0 # Alex 2008-08-19 13:25
Hi Mike - your work is fantastic and much appreciated. Very happy to donate to your cause. One thing that might help is letting people know what your expenses are, how much it costs you per day to be in Nepal, Af-pak, Iraq, etc. You may have done this in the past, apologies if I missed it. It would certainly give me great pleasure to know that I supported you for a day, week, etc.

Keep up the good work and thank you so much,

Alex K
Minneapolis, MN
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0 # rbltz 2008-08-19 14:13
"Our NATO allies hide behind the sturdy legs of the United States and Great Britain, who do most of the real fighting in Afghanistan..."

Your Canadian NATO allies are in Afghanistan in numbers proportional to the US presence, and our guys are taking casualties disproportionat ely higher than most because of the hard fighting in Kandahar province.

Michael, I'd be happy to donate again, as I've done in the past, but I'd appreciate the occasional acknowledgment of the Canadian Forces contribution, and I'd be even more excited if you'd embed with some Canucks for a while.

Thanks for all the great work over the last few years.
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0 # Thom W. 2008-08-19 15:13
Loved the book..bought it from Barnes & Nobel and will try to donate as much as possible. Love your work and routinely send the link to you website out to my friends and family. Thanks for your hard work...hang in there.
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0 # amagi 2008-08-19 16:37
I have also donated, and from me it was long overdue. Apologies.

I would second the comment requesting itemized expenses; it gives me an idea of what a right-sized donation is, and might help me lean on some friends to pitch in as well.

Good luck. You are doing an extremely important service by providing credible reporting from these places.
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0 # Daniel Anderson 2008-08-19 16:47
Long shot, Michael, but I work for a UK publishing company that produces magazines and publicity for the British Army. They are recruitment brochures, in essence. One of your pictures would be perfect for a publication we are producing at the moment, and I wondered whether it would be possible to contact you to discuss the matter further.

Anyway, my email address is above if you get a second.

Cheers,

Dan Anderson
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0 # Matthew Gonzalez 2008-08-19 17:12
"Our NATO allies hide behind the sturdy legs of the United States and Great Britain, who do most of the real fighting in Afghanistan, just as they did in Iraq."

Sorry Michael, but i'm going to have to disagree with you (probably for the first time) on several points in your post. Aside from GB and the US, Canada has been contributing more troops than the remaining NATO countries put together, and the Netherlands is not far behind. And I really don't think the war in Georgia is just about oil, granted Chechnya was most certainly about oil, but this war has a certain nationalistic flavor to it, and certainly Putin's mindset of control over the former soviet republics has something to do with it. I imagine Ukraine is none too happy about Putin's decision.
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0 # The other Ron 2008-08-19 18:56
Thanks for the interesting reading over the years. I would like to second rbltz's comment.

Your efforts and strong journalism are much appreciated.

Ron
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0 # GregHi-z 2008-08-19 19:52
Mike very good article , and of course it hits the important points . NPR had a decent segment on AF-PAK / Musharraf this moring it made me think of our troops thier. The USA and the coallitian has its best over thier fighting for the freedome of all the people thier. NPR's peice did a fair job of pointing out the absolute chaos that is Pakistan. Of course the peice ended with the summary of it all being President Bush/Musharaf's fault but we all know the reality of it. Lets all hope that the people of Pakistan/ Afhganistan/Ira q can take this oppourtunity to make peace and hope for thier children.
Donation in , thanks and be safe.
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0 # Bob in Texas 2008-08-19 19:59
Mike,

I just made a donation because I believe your work is important and vital to the news on the homefront. We need to know what's going on, and you are our messenger.

We'll be praying for your safety. Tell the troops they have our admiration, full support, and prayers.

Thanks,
Bob
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0 # R.Brad 2008-08-19 20:36
I just now gave what I could; I'm sorry I can't afford more. My brother is in Pakistan. I need you to be there. And please try to communicate to Sen. Obama. Thank you very much.
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0 # mike 2008-08-19 20:39
Dear Michael:

I have bought your book - it generated a lot of interest among my friends, since I have read dozens of books, but have only bought three in the past three years. How much money do you receive per book? I'm wondering if I should donate or buy more copies as presents.

Also, I second the request for itemized expenses - transparency being the reason d'etre of blogging - it would be useful in deciding how much to contribute, and also intrinsically interesting. How much does independent photojournalism in a war zone cost? Raising the visibility of the expenses (in an appropriate way) will motivate fence-sitters. Perhaps monthly or quarterly updates?

Please continue your good work - your journalism has made me a much more forceful advocate of the US armed services, the Iraqi nation, the surge in offensive operations, and independent blogging to my peers. I trust your opinion on Iraqi more than any other news source.

Thank you again.
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0 # Rod Barnes 2008-08-19 21:46
I appreciated the two comments about the Canadian's involvement in the coalition. I honestly didn't know how much they had contributed. The media so often plays the left-side of things from Canada that I had just assumed they weren't involved. Thanks to the two posters who cleared up my misconception. Glad to know our northern neighbors are still freedom fighters.
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0 # SPC Robinson 2008-08-19 22:35
Mr. Yon,

Your personal commitment towards the efforts of balanced reporting from the front lines is commendable. I always appreciate your hard work. I am making a contribution to help you. Depending on how this thing goes, maybe I'll run into you out there? Got your new book with me (MTI) and am almost done reading it.
I noticed Alex K's comment about posting some info so we know how much you need for your budget. I thought that, if you had the capability, that might not be a bad idea. Nothing you need to do to keep me as a fan; hard to ask for more from a man who already does so much.

With Appreciation,

SPC Robinson
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0 # Larry Garlick 2008-08-19 22:41
"Reasonable people likely will disagree about that decision for as long as the event is remembered."

Do you mean reasonable people will disagree with each other, or with the decision? All reasonable people I know at that time agreed with the decision. Most who disagree with the decision now, changed their position, after the fact, for partisan reasons. We were already spending resources containing a belligerent dictator who was taking pot shots at our planes and looking for every way possible to harm us. The Iraq war was inevitable. Unfortunately, the U.S. was the only entity who could pull it off. Fortunately, George W. Bush had the fortitude to make it a success.
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0 # Paul S. 2008-08-20 02:13
What the MSM passes off as journalism would be laughable if it weren't for the influence it has among those not looking further for actual evidence devoid of partisanship. Frankly I'm disgusted by it and have long since relied upon sources like yourself for just the facts, as Sgt. Joe Friday used to say on "Dragnet."

A donation posted today.

My deep thanks,
Paul S.
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0 # Lorraine 2008-08-20 02:23
Mike,
Just made my second donation and wish you safe travels. Am looking forward to learning much more about what is really going on in Af-Pak as I learned about Iraq. Can never thank you enough for the riveting posts and the wonderful (and sometimes heart breaking) pictures from there. Altho I am 75 years old you have certainly "educated" this old lady.

Your autographed book is a special treasure of mine. Thank you for your work on b ehalf of our country.
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0 # Mike P 2008-08-20 16:04
Mike,
I bought your book and read your work regularly, but I'm afraid you've stepped over a line into a political, editorial chasm. I was with the Army in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), not AF-Pak (when did we get authorization to move into Pakistan - is this a Laos-like thing?). I saw what Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, did to, and didn't do for, our troops, when they tried to run a war in OEF on the cheap - it's pure negligence. Then, because the Bush administration must be learning-disabl ed as they apparently learned nothing from OEF short-staffing, they fired the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Shinseki, as you very well know, for telling Congress the truth about needing "several hundred thousand soldiers". It is pretty much a 20-20 hindsight concensus that he was right on the money. But Shinseki was just one of a number of honorable warriors that sacrificed their careers by putting truth and honor and the welfare of their troops, sailors, and marines above all else. Please, don't feed me any more of this Bush being a righteous leader nonsense by insinuating that the "ends justify the means." You and a few of your readers should bone up on why "everyone" supported Bush on invading Iraq. Hell, I did, too, but then we find out that he and his people lied to us and Congress by not telling the real truth coming through intelligence channels. I admit that I was duped, but some people evidently prefer to remain duped. I guess I am hoping that you will regain your perspective and not be one of them because I find that your reporting seems to be right-on. However, your political editorializing is only going to be popular with the Rush Lim-pig neonazis - and that's fine, and it's certainly your right, and it will certainly give a clear signal to those of us in the middle of the political spectrum that don't think Bush was the best thing since sliced bread that we need to move on to find an unvarnished truth.
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0 # Ken Ellingson 2008-08-20 17:19
Dear Mike,

You have gone over the line, and let your politics overcome reason.

You claim the Iraqi war is 'won'? Time to come home then, do some reading, and get some perspective.

There is no chance history will demonstrate that we were 'right' to go into Iraq, given what we know now. How empty our rhetoric sounds when we chastise Russia for invading Georgia, and they throw similar self-rightious claims of security and self-defense, back in our faces.

I hope we have seen the end of cowboy diplomacy, our troops home soon, and Iraq sinking or swimming on it's own.

KenE
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0 # Joseph Edgington 2008-08-20 18:12
I have been reading your blog for the past year and recently purchased "Moment Of Truth". As a Viet Nam Vet I experienced what a defeatest and left-leaning media can do to turn a victory (TET '68) into a "stalemate"(Cro nkite). We didn't have a Michael Yon to get the real story out.
I salute you. America will, of course, be blamed for everything that goes wrong and will not be credited for the positive things we do. That can't stop America from doing the right thing. Bless you and keep the truth coming. I hope you get a chance to check out my blog http://nobullnobias.blogspot.com
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0 # Ron Heffield 2008-08-20 18:17
I was one of the very first online purchasers of your book, and have avidly followed your dispatches. Learning that you are headed for Kabul made me want to fly there and buy you a steak dinner. Not too practical, so I made a donation instead. God bless and keep you, my friend.

Keep your head down, your flag up, and the truth coming.

Pastor Ron
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0 # JohnB 2008-08-21 06:42
Thank you Mr. Yon for all you do to bring us the truth about Iraq. I find it odd that the MSM reported nightly on Iraq when things were going bad, but I haven't heard a peep from them now that the war is practically won.

In reply to Ken E. And Mike P., it's _your_ politics that are evident here not Mr. Yon's. There were many reasons we invaded Iraq, not just WMDs. There's no point in me listing them all. There are plenty honest and reliable resources for you to research to find the truth. But, you have already made up your minds without regard to the mounds of evidence contradicting your viewpoints.

To say it's, "Time to come home then, do some reading, and get some perspective," is laughable. Is it really your argument that his many years of first hand experience in Iraq is less informed than whatever nonsense you've been reading? And comparing what's happening in Georgian to Iraq is idiotic. I hope that you don't actually believe your rhetoric. If you need to be told how it's different, then you are already so biased that it would be futile to try to enlighten you.

There have been many mistakes and poor decisions in the prosecution of the war in Iraq, but I believe that the Iraqis are better off now and for many generations to come because we had the fortitude to do what was right.
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0 # William Crum 2008-08-21 16:51
Michael,

I have bought your autographed book, and been an avid reader of this site since I found it mearly a month ago. If you need any help with the site, or are interested in ideas for providing details of monetary tracking as the previous posters have asked about, shoot me an email. I am a programmer / computer nerd, disabled Vet with time on my hands, and have some experience and ideas that could possibly assist you if you so desire. My email is and am more than willing to offer my services free of charge!
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0 # Jenny, Sacramento, CA 2008-08-21 21:53
Hi Michael,
A continued thank you for all you do in bringing the truth to the world. Unfortunately for some, delving into the political realm is sometimes needed when doing the right thing crosses over party lines. We need to stay the course, we need to do in Afghanistan what was done in Iraq, and we need to do it right...no matter what happens in the election, no matter which candidate wins. As you stated in the closing pages of your Moment of Truth in Iraq book (and I paraphrase) the time is now to decide what we will do and what course we will take.

Michael, your words help this patriotic, America loving, truth seeking, wife and mother to remember what makes this country truly great. We must keep America the light in a VERY dark world. The rest of the world isn't trying to get in because they hate us, they are trying to come here because we are great and are founded on freedom for everyone.

God bless you, our troops, and the US of A!!!
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0 # Rachel 2008-08-21 23:29
Glad to support a man who brings the truth from the source. Your work is appreciated, as well as your sacrifice. - Rachel
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0 # Dano 2008-08-22 02:18
Congrats on another propaganda piece extolling the glory and delicious victory in Iraq. A million innocents dead, a quarter of the population refugeed, the country in shambles, a puppet govt., Iraqi's paying exhorbitant prices for their own gas (when they can get it), car bombs, sectarian massacres, and NGO's running around killing "hadji's" at will and getting rich off of our tax dollars is a "success" huh? A people that will justifiably despise us for 5 generations. There are no meters on the Iraqi oil. Halliburton got rich by this admin shifting our tax treasury to their pockets, and Cheney's portfolio thickens. Factcheck was wrong, Cheney profits. We told the rest of the world to kiss our butt, ate "freedom fries" and called a few small countries that we bullied into supporting the invasion a "coalition".
The surge resulted in a lull in killings because there's a dearth of targets left, they've all been killed already, or fled.
The conservative, war-supporting mainstream media (including NPR) can cheerlead the neo-cons and their imperialism with all the clever subterfuge they like, but the majority of Americans just aren't that stupid, we know the truth about this illegal, immoral war, just as we did during the Vietnam war. If the soldiers serving in Iraq could hear you cheerlead the war as you do here they'd laugh at you, while their eyes showed disgust. Really.
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0 # todd e. 2008-08-22 03:21
The Iraqi's are now free to pursue happiness. They are no longer held hostage by a tyrant. They now have the power to run their own lives.

You say that soldiers in Iraq would show disgust as if they all would. It is people such as yourself that they are more disgusted with. Immoral!!? Illegal!!? Please. The Iraqi's will love this country for many more generations, as long as we stick with our commitment and allow them to rebuild their lives. They are more sickened by the likes of you.

Even you should understand that they lived under a regime that would have gutted you for making statements you made here on this website, if the tables were turned.

Go back to Starbuck's and crawl into your text-book along with the rest of the elitists who have turned out to be soooo wrong about Iraq and thank God you live in the greatest country on this earth.
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0 # Im lovin it 2008-08-22 06:33
You dont "blame yourselves" (you are not the ruling elite) enough. The whole concept of americans in general feeling guilt and blaming themselves is laughable. Between the democrats and republicans (the right and the right) power games, and the aforementioneds given opportunism and by everyone involved - in a way including regular people that strongly feel linked to the democrat side, i'm sure that some people outside the bubble do feel bad for what the governing power of your country has started. Its just hard to tell sometimes with all the talk about how great your country is and garbled terminology. And american troops starting to suffer and no end in sight and naturally not liking it isn't really blaming yourselves..

"Elitist", how about equations by your rulers going something along the lines of - "we have the power and hence supremacy and right of way" (like some have even openly - grouchily - expressed)??? Coming in from a sane place just makes it so obvious how conditioned you americans are. The terms you use, what you take for granted, the limitations dictated by the power elite and linked media. And associating something super commercialistic like Starbucks with some sort of imagined "intellectual elite", because that is what it is right, normalizing that anti war mongers is really just looking down on regular people, like one of those fox spins where they suddenly start using some weird terminology or phrasing out of nowhere one day and voila it's in peoples minds and mouths.

"The Iraqi's are now free to pursue happiness. They are no longer held hostage by a tyrant. They now have the power to run their own lives. "

The objective was to get some oil, not allow people in a country they could care less about to pursue happiness. Ever heard of placed dictators in foreign countries to allow people to NOT PURSUE HAPPINESS BUT SLOWLY DECAY SO THAT YOUR EMPERORS CAN EXPAND THEIR EMPIRE???? Your country has been governed by the same families from the day it was formed, "freedom" is only important to the point where it enables them to do certain things.

Also did you forget why they entered iraq to begin with? Weapons of mass destruction. A threat. Doesen't it irk you in any way that it was wmds to begin with, then snapped into "liberating the iraqi people", doesn't that seem very convenient and putting one and two together, putting the OBVIOUS TOGETHER, tell you that they really only created a reason to invade to get at something entirely different??

Since when do you enter countrys to liberate them? It just wouldn't have happened out of the blue, and was totally unlinked to 9/11. It had been no different to if you had suddenly decided to go to North Korea. The sheer notion would have been ridiculed. You are NOT that stupid. THINK.
What i'm trying to say is it should come before anything else is discussed in the matter.
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0 # -:- 2008-08-22 06:49
"I salute you. America will, of course, be blamed for everything that goes wrong and will not be credited for the positive things we do. That can't stop America from doing the right thing. Bless you and keep the truth coming. I hope you get a chance to check out my blog"

Just cutting the courtesys, for the hell you must have gone through; but that sounds like an uncritical and induced spirit not really meaning anything driving you forward, thinking you are "doing the right thing". Care to explain it further other than that you are doing it for "freedom", something taken for granted in the rest of the FREE western world without the rest of the "agreement". It sickens me that you think you are doing positive things you are not credited for, what about all the sick things you've done that normal people know jack about because of you as a super power chosing the terminology and what is really called to attention?
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0 # TomInVan 2008-08-22 08:38
Thanks Michael, some Canadian dollars coming your way... Pls don't forget the contributions of the Canadians, who with 92 dead have proportionately suffered some of the highest casualties amongst coalition forces in the 'Ghan... Also, don't forget the Poles, Dutch, Danes and Aussies who have also shared in some of the heavy lifting in southern Afghanistan. Stay safe.
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0 # William Crum 2008-08-22 12:24
You few who can seem to do nothing but turn this website into a political minefield need to exercise your rights to freedom. If you feel so strongly about the wrongs you say are going on in Iraq or Afghanistan, then take your lazy ass over there and do something about it. Perhaps once there you will see that it might have been smarter to trust a source who is already there and tells the bad with the good, rather than the liberal media who spins anything they can to sell TV Ads!

Intelligence, Elitists, Starbucks, these are all just tools to try to upset or antagonize others. You claim to know what our troops feel or believe, which to me seems to scream ignorance. Troops, regardless of what army, all have the same diverse feelings and beliefs that we as civilians do... they are just trained to separate those from doing their job. Your beliefs in what a good America should be, or what America stands for today, doesn't mean shit if all your going to do is exploit those beliefs by spamming blogs with meaningless off topic blasts at anyone who oppose your views. If you truly feel strongly about your beliefs, run for office... or travel to a war torn country and help those you claim we are abusing... or start a web site where people who CHOOSE to read your trash can come.... but for god's sake, stop littering good blogs with your altruistic accusations and views!
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0 # Mike P 2008-08-22 15:48
JohnB: I believe that facts and truth are beyond politics, and that's what I offered up. OK, maybe a little politics. You should at least have the courtesy to respond in a debate with facts rather than neocon buzz phrases. I admit that I was guilty in assuming that everyone would know there were no WMD and it was known before we went into Iraq (does the reason behind the treasonous Valerie Plame outing register?). You say you have knowledge about "mounds of evidence" that contradict what I have alluded to. The only contradictions I've seen pretty much equate to the "mounds" of stuff you find out in cow pastures. If you have facts, use 'em. It wouldn't hurt for all of us to remember what Mark Twain said about being loyal to your country all of the time, but only to the government when it deserves it. Too bad the brown shirts in 1930s Germany didn't read Mr. Clemens (that's Mark Twain's real name if you're curious), eh? And Mr. Crum, to you, I say, I've served in Afghanistan, so where has your "lazy ass" been?
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0 # Mike P 2008-08-22 15:56
My apologies to Ms. Plame, wherever her gorgeous self may be (Joe, you fortunate bastard!) - I did not intend for my sentence to be so poorly written to make it appear that she may be guilty of treason. To erase any doubt, those that outed her (Cheney, Rove, and house boy Scooter) are the treasonous vermin that deserve prison time.
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0 # William Crum 2008-08-22 18:52
My "lazy ass" has been doing what ever it can to make a living since I was medically discharged due to a paralyzed right arm. And my prior message was more pointed toward the guy who you mentioned was using neocism remarks, or how ever you put it, than it was towards you. You voiced your opinion intelligently, which I can respect, as compared to the other few who simply threw out accusations and insults.

My only remark to your post would be to argue the perceptive "real" story behind the WMDs, but that is semantics, at least until FOIA time frames let us see exactly what intell the administration had prior to going in. I always saw Saddam as a threat. He definitely had WMDs, that is proven by the fact he used Serin Gas on his own people. When he got rid of the weapons and the evidence is up in the air. Hindsight tells me he should have allowed the UN Inspectors to inspect like they wanted, instead of acting like he was hiding something. I don't know if his intentions were to actually hide it until he could get it out, or if he was posturing so it appeared he had it to show power. We may never know when he got rid of his weapons, or what extent of weapons he had. One thing is for sure, he did have them and he had used them in the past... and in my mind not going in would be like ignoring Hitler until he was on American Soil.

BUT, I am also smart enough to know that I believe what I believe and you believe what you believe, and without PROOF neither of us is likely to change our opinions on it. I do not fault you for your opinion, it is a fact that by the time we got in evidence was gone, so in fact your right. The opinionated aspect of it is that I truly believe he did have them before we went in, where you seem to believe that because we didnt find it, he never had it.
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0 # Mike P 2008-08-22 19:19
Nicely stated. I don't agree with much of what you say regarding WMD (yes, there were chemical and biological WMD, no doubt, and Saddam was a bad man, but the UN edict that was our authorization for the invasion, only concerned nukes), but as the saying goes "I'll fight for your right to think or say it." You are also correct that we may not see eye to eye, but at least it's refreshing to debate it with someone that exhibits thoughtfulness and civility, rather than the wild-eyed fanatics from both ends of the spectrum who just get mad and with whom I wouldn't bother. Have a good one.
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0 # todd e 2008-08-22 21:35
You proved my point. Your late' is up.

The U.S. and the rest of the free world viewed Iraq and Saddam as a threat. He did not follow "rules and regs" set forth by the UN in the 1st Gulf War. W warned him. He didn't listen. You know the rest.

Come on, you can find a better argument than it's about oil. Waaa! Only a simpleton would argue that our resources should be used all over the globe for every single humanitarian crisis.

Iraq fit the mold in the time and place.
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0 # Huntress 2008-08-22 21:50
wrote:

"However, your political editorializing is only going to be popular with the Rush Lim-pig neonazis - and that's fine, and it's certainly your right, and it will certainly give a clear signal to those of us in the middle of the political spectrum that don't think Bush was the best thing since sliced bread that we need to move on to find an unvarnished truth.""

While I appreciate your service to our country that does NOT give you the right to pretend to speak for me. Let me be clear, Mike P, YOU do not speak for ME - or anyone else on the middle of the political spectrum. I will make up MY OWN MIND as to whether or not Michael Yon provides the unvarnished truth and as to whether or not I will read his dispatches.

Referring to those on the right ( some of who are my friends and who have also served in Iraq and Afghanistan) as "Rush limp-pig neo nazis" not only exposes the truth about your leftist bias, but proves that you neither thoughtful nor civil.
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0 # Freedom Now 2008-08-22 22:28
Huntress,

Yeah, Mike's statement that we are "Rush limp-pig neo nazis" is juvenile. However, its standard operating procedure with such partisan hacks.

Anyway, this statement rules:

"...the international community can do little about evil tyrants. They leave that up to us, complaining when we do nothing and criticizing when we take action."

Bless you Michael...
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0 # Barney Brenner 2008-08-23 04:39
It's an honor to contribute to you again. God speed, God bless.
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0 # Arlene 2008-08-23 15:07
Michael and All:
I have a Vietnamese friend who along with 60 family members were rescued in Vietnam. She is forever indebted to the American soldier and to this country. Until you have spoken with the victims of tyrants, you do not understand what America means to them. This family is the prime example of what you refer to Michael, as America's strength. She is now a land developer and her two sons are dentists. When we went into Iraq she said we were doing the right thing because "Saadam is a mean man. He must go". At our last luncheon she said she would vote for McCain because of his service in Vietnam. Simple, ha?
Just thought I would share this with our Vietnam and other vets who have posted here. God Bless you.
I understand the Poles had the third largest contingent in Iraq next to us and the Brits. Now some of them have had to go back home to protect and serve. Thank you to our troops. I see no separation between our Canadian, Polish, British and others serving in Iraq. They are all OUR troops.
I am forwarding this dispatch to everyone I know and then some. Hopefully the result will be donations for you. We are REALLY going to need you in the Afghan.
Gods Speed,
California, USA
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0 # SFC Cheryl McElroy, US ARMY RET 2008-08-23 15:13
Mike P:

My 'lazy ass' served in Iraq twice as both Soldier and Intelligence Analyst. The truth beyond your politics:
we found a substantial amount of hidden WMD along with documents and recordings in which Saddam Hussein emphatically stated his intention to continue WMD development and deception.
1) Declassified NGIC report:
http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/Iraq_WMD_Declassified.pdf

2) 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3872201.stm

3) 1,500 gallons of chemical weapons agents:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/13/AR2005081300530.html

4) Chemical warheads containing cyclosarin:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2004/07/02/international1018EDT0516.DTL
and: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,124576,00.html

5) Over 1,000 radioactive materials in powdered form meant for dispersal over populated areas:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3872201.stm

6) Roadside bombs loaded with mustard and "conventional" sarin gas, assembled in binary chemical projectiles for maximum potency: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,120137,00.html
Those weapons were previously unknown to U.N. inspectors.

Oh yeah, and his terrorist connections:
He gave thousands of dollars to families of suicide bombers and in addition, Iraqi intelligence met with al Qadea operatives and provided with training camps in Northern Iraq:
The Mother of All Connections
From the July 18, 2005 issue: A special report on the new evidence of collaboration between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda.
by Stephen F. Hayes & Thomas Joscelyn
07/18/2005, Volume 010, Issue 41

Source:
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/804yqqnr.asp?pg=1

Saddam Hussein, as evidenced by the WMD found, his previous use, continued willingness to use them, and the documents discovered which connected him to terrorists, was a threat. The fact remains that the inspectors got absolutely nowhere with regard to full disclosure of Husseinƒ??s WMD program.
Iƒ??m an Iraq War vet, and Iƒ??m damned glad we not only invaded, but took out the sonofabitch and got those WMDs before anyone had the chance to use them. Had I the power, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran (for starters) would have been asphalt parking lots on 12 September 2001. But, I'm a former Soldier, not a diplomat.
Hussein wasnƒ??t the only threat. Just one of them. But, not anymore, is he?
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0 # SFC Cheryl McElroy, US ARMY RET 2008-08-23 15:14
As for Valarie Plame:
Her occupation was one of the worst kept secrets in Washington. One of the places she was ƒ??outedƒ? was on Page 5710, 2003 Edition of ƒ??Whoƒ??s Who in Americaƒ?. Doesnƒ??t say what her profession is, but ƒ??covertƒ? agents arenƒ??t supposed to have their name in print.
Actually, by 2003 she was assigned as a desk jockey at the CIA and hadnƒ??t been ƒ??covertƒ? since 1992.
As a matter of fact, her loser husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, introduced her to everyone they met as his ƒ??CIA wifeƒ?.
A month before conservative columnist Bob Novak published her name, disclosing her position as a WMD analyst at the CIA, an interview with then U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, was conducted by none other than Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward. During the exchange, Armitage explained that he already knew about her because Wilson ƒ??was calling everybodyƒ??, i.e. reporters and everyone else who would listen. Looks like Joe had a hand in his wifeƒ??s ƒ??outingƒ?.
Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/15/AR2005111501857.html?nav=rss_politics/administration

And speaking of Joe: He became unhinged after the discovery of his lies and contrasting statements before and after Plame arranged his trip to Niger. Heƒ??s a has-been with a serious woulda/coulda inferiority complex, who used his wife to prop up his waning career.
You leftwingnuts crawl out from under your rocks at very strange intervals. If you were so concerned about legalities, national security, and lies, you should have been as busy as a one-legged person in an asskicking contest during Clinton's regime.
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0 # SFC Cheryl McElroy US ARMY RET 2008-08-23 15:42
Oh yeah, and if it was ƒ??all about the oilƒ?, we must really suck at it. Most of the crude is going to other countries and being used to pay for the rebuilding of Iraq/Afghanista n infrastructure.

Only about 2,000 wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared to about 1 million wells in Texas alone. The U.S. only imports 11.3 million barrels of oil from Iraq.

In comparison, imports from other major OPEC oil-producing countries:

Saudi Arabia - 56.2 million barrels
Venezuela 20.2 million barrels
Nigeria 19.3 million barrels
Kuwait - 5.9 million barrels
Algeria - 1.2 million barrels

http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aairaqioil.htm

If we did take over every rig in Iraq instead of putting it back into their economy and letting them export it, weƒ??d be paying 4 cents instead of about 4 bucks (and in some states, even more) at the pump. Read and learn before you spew bullshit that isnƒ??t true. All about the oil, my ass


We usually enter countries to break things and kill people as part of combat operations....a nd yeah, we've done a lot of liberating, too. The occupants of Nazi concentration camps sure didn't mind seeing American troops.

Speaking of "think", if one were to wade through your intellect, they wouldn't get their feet damp.

You're either Canadian or Eurotrash, which explains your effete personality.
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0 # BlairSupporter 2008-08-23 16:03
Thank you, Michael for all your hard work. You are a beacon of light to the rest of us who don't see the west, and in particular America, as the Great Evil.

I was particularly interested in the detailed information from your commenter - the ex-miltary - on WMDs and Saddam.

WMDs, Plame, et al.... SFC Cheryl McElroy, US ARMY (RET)

I'd very much like to use this information at my own blog - which is in support of Tony Blair. Although he is sadly no longer our Prime Minister, I believe that he and President Bush clearly saw the issues facing the world in the Middle East before most of us. The sad thing is that much of the world is still blinded by the 'anti' rhetoric of the 'peace-makers' who want nothing less than to try and then string up our leaders, for their courage. As you say, we will never persuade some.

I just read someone's heartfelt entry at their blog today decrying Blair as a 'vicious operator'. This is not actually in reference to Iraq and its aftermath, (which doesn't figure that heavily in the post), but mainly over the fact that he was a smooth operator when up against the previous prime minister (John Major) while Blair was still in opposition.

http://reluctantlylibdem.blogspot.com/2008/08/rip-new-labour-1996-2010.html

I really don't understand these people. They want ROUGH operators in power? Her main gripe, though was that "we" had been "lied to" over WMDs. No number of official inquiries proving he didn't lie will change her mind it seems. I believe we have already had four inquiries.

THAT'S the BIG ISSUE! "Lying" over WMDs!

Never mind the fact that Blair had the courage to lead for peace in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Sierra Leone. He fibbed to us - they say. Naughty boy! Straight to the Hague.

Until the day comes, if it ever does, when the "lie" business can be put to rest or dealt with in a more mature fashion by the press and public, Bush & Blair will likely be vilified until the end of their days by some who enjoy transferring bile through the tips of two fingers to the waiting world.

Thank goodness for such informed and informative sites as yours, Michael. I will link to this article at my blog.

My current post about another foolish do-gooder, Blair's sister-in-law, 'saving' Gaza! -

http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/a-trip-to-gaza-lauren-to-tony-are-we-there-yet/
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0 # Arlene 2008-08-23 16:41
Comments No. 43 thru 45.
Hoorah!!!! A strong, informed voice of reason emerges among some of the ridiculous descenting comments. SFC Cheryl McElroy US ARMY (RET), What a gal! What a soldier! You make me so proud! As Michael trys to explain, the boots on the ground know what's REALLY going on.
Thank you for your service!
God Bless the USA
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0 # BlairSupporter 2008-08-23 17:19
Re the links from SFC Cheryl McElroy US ARMY (RET).

Thank you for this information. I found that the two links referenced at #4 on your comment #43 were not able to be accessed. If you have other links to them please send them in here or to my blog -

http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/al-qaeda-in-britain-threatened-to-kill-brown-blair-3-arrested/

I'm on a quest to argue back against the naysayers on WMDs. There's a lot of sand in Iraq.

An we're not ALL 'EuroTrash', btw.

;0)

Too many for my liking, though!
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0 # William Crum 2008-08-23 18:12
Wow Cheryl,

You really researched that well, I am going to bookmark this single post to reference when I encounter those who question our motives for going into Iraq. You are my new Hero, and if I had not just remarried last month I would propose to you ;-).

Thank You for your work, in combat and out!
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0 # BlairSupporter 2008-08-23 21:24
Thought I'd let you know I have used the above at a new post at my blog. I have set up a link to your book for anyone who wishes to secure a signed copy.

Good luck to you, Michael.

http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/michael-yons-report-from-iraq-afghanistan/
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0 # Voice_in_DC 2008-08-23 22:10
Michael, we can always count on you to keep us focused on what is important. It looks like you time away has given you some new life and new energy. I am so looking forward to hearing about Af-Pak and, perhaps a new book when you get a good understanding of the situation there, too. Do well, stay safe, and keep up posted.
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0 # Freedom Now 2008-08-23 23:46
Cheryl,

I enjoyed your writing and would like to praise what you said, but it is marred by a thoughtless attack on our allies.

You said,

"You're either Canadian or Eurotrash, which explains your effete personality."

In the United States we have politicians who have reached high office like John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. There are prominent citizens like Michael Moore and George Soros. We have political activists like Lynne Stewart and Medea Benjamin.

There is no lack of effete personalities here in the United States.

Our Canadian allies have sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan. Our British allies have sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Germany and France pro-American leaders have been elected after our liberal elite said that we were destroying our alliances.

Please dont stoop to the level of nastiness that they have.
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0 # Anon 2008-08-25 05:46
I found an article at BBC from the same date:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3861197.stm
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0 # Mike P 2008-08-25 19:03
SFC McElroy - were you a misinformation expert in the Army? What a bunch of unsupported propaganda! You give a link to a Washington Post article that you cite as a reference for Joe Wilson going about "outing" his wife by calling everyone in DC to tell them, and that his wife was some equivalent to a clerk - maybe you should read that article for your own reference. Your own citation was: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/15/AR2005111501857.html?nav=rss_politics/administration
Evidently, even your Brit believer couldn't access a couple of your links - at least make up something that works or comes even a little bit close to the neocon babble you are espousing. Even the stuff you cite that does come close is great for misleading the ignorant - like your 1.77 tons of enriched uranium. This is not weapons-grade material - if you'll read your own citation, you'll know that it's not even good enough for a dirty bomb. If it was big news, you can bet that the Bush propaganda machine would have been all over it like maggots on meat - but it's not big news and would be too easily shot down if they had tried to tie nuke WMD development into it. Your own cite was: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3872201.stm

And yes, yes, yes, a million times, yes, we were pretty confident that there were bio and chem WMD in Iraq - but, like "It's the Economy, Stupid" the move into Iraq was "It was the Nukes, Stupid". Only nuke development had the UN in an uproar - kind of - they wanted more time to investigate, but Bush wanted Saddam - so we went ahead and invaded. If you need citations for that, you wouldn't believe what you read, anyway. It's common knowledge - which evidently is much less common than I previously imagined.

I must admit that you are fairly adept at misinformation, and if Ann Coulter is looking for an understudy, you might have a shot. You have some of these poor souls even referring to you as a hero. My god, what is the world coming to? And Huntress - if you're middle of the road, then I'm Rush Limbutt.
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0 # William Crum 2008-08-26 14:08
Mike,

You said that the 1.77 metric tons of Enriched Uranium was not even weapons grade, then went on to falsely quote the article as saying it was not even good enough for dirty bombs, in an attempt to make the enriched Uranium found seem less dangerous. The Article did NOT say that, what it said was "Uranium would not be suitable for fashioning such a device, though appropriate material may have been among the other unidentified "sources", and that is the ENTIRE paragraph. It speaks of Uranium in general, it does not say that the Enriched Uranium found was so "SAFE" that it could not be used. You accuse her of using misinformation, then you yourself post ambiguous remarks about the legitimate information she posted. Let me ask a question. How many Nuclear Reactors does Iraq have? Why would they possess Enriched Uranium since they have no reactors, unless they were trying to research building a Nuclear Bomb? The article stated all of the items found were found in a Laboratory, what use does it serve there?
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0 # Michael J. Tierney 2008-08-27 01:03
SFC McElroy - my most sincere apologies, ma'am!!!

mjt
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0 # Michael J. Tierney 2008-08-27 01:09
Who officially outted Valerie Plame? SFC McElroy is absolutely correct: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

The anti-war anti-Bush zealots refuse to even breathe his name, so I will do it for them:

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage outted Valerie Plame first!
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage outted Valerie Plame first!
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage outted Valerie Plame first!
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage outted Valerie Plame first!
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage outted Valerie Plame first!

I can go on, but that should do it for now.

mjt
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0 # Michael J. Tierney 2008-08-27 01:11
The primary goal of terrorism is just that - terror. In the aftermath of an explosion involving any quantity of uranium, I'd LOVE to see a cool, calm populace rationally accepting the evaluation of some "expert" insisting that while, yes, it is enriched uranium, it really isn't a threat.

Not gonna happen. At the first whisper of "radiation", the panic will begin, and it won't end until the last geiger counter goes through the target area with nary a click.

Mission accomplished - terror achieved.

Keep your head down, Mr. Yon. And SPC McElroy, you ROCK!!!

(And how about those Canadians, eh?)

mjt
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0 # George48 2008-08-27 01:44
For all your positive spin on how American exceptionalism can save the world, you continue to ignore the big problem of Iran. Iraq, for all the horrors that occurred there, stood as something of a buffer with Iran. Now that Iraq is weak, Pakistan has no government worth mentioning and Afghanistan hangs by a thread, guess who has profited handsomely? Iran. So, Mr. Yon, shall we proceed with planning our next invasion? After all, tyranny beckons America to save the Iranians from themselves, because oh yes, America knows best for all peoples of the world. I wager that before next year is out, McCain will order operations in Iran. $4 gas? You haven't seen anything yet.
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0 # Jim Gonzales 2008-08-28 03:38
Always enjoy your dispatches so I added my first donation to your efforts (more donations to come). Hope you are able to keep reporting in Af/Pak.
The comments about itemized expenses were amusing. Although they would help, I hope you would rather use the time to catch up on your sleep!
God Bless You!
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0 # Freedom Now 2008-08-30 16:47
I think Iran is in bigger trouble. The Iranian support for anti-Iraqi terrorism and the downfall of their puppet Al-Sadr makes the strongman-regim e look weak. It is only propped up by Islamist and Leftwing propagandists who use disinformation campaigns to hide the truth.

The growing power of a much more liberal Iraq will challenge the Mullahs of Iran and inspire their opposition.

A stronger Iraq is the key to delegitimizing the Iranian theocracy. In the West, tacit support from leftwing activists who propagandize in the best interests of the regime will prolong the fall of the Mullahs, but they cant hide the truth forever.
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0 # Laurence Hunt 2008-08-31 05:17
Let's not forget that the Canadians are carrying Kandahar, the most difficult region in Afghanistan.

In Canada, we hear occasional news of Iraq, but daily news of Afghanistan. The Canadian presence is critical, and Canadians strongly support this mission.
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0 # STEVE G 2008-09-01 17:57
It must be fun going though life with such an anti-American attitude about every thing. Thankfully, you leftist ignoramuses can craw back into your dungeons for a couple of years after Obamanation loses the election.

As for Mike, I can't wait to read more of your dispatches from Afganistan.

I am sending you another donation today. I'll try to keep it up on amonthly basis.
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0 # carol 2008-09-05 19:34
micheal, just bought another book through "soldiers angels". My autographed copy went to my son in law who has come back from Iraq. He was there during the surge, I wasnt. Enough said.
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