Monday, December 20, 2004

Blogroll tweak

Star from Mosul has been replaced by Iraq Files in my blogroll. Najma's blog is still listed among the Iraqi blogs linked by Iraq Files, but along with a long list representing a cross-section of Iraqi weblogs, both civilian (of Iraqi origin) and military (by various people blogging from American military perspectives). I noticed that 2Slick is missing from their list, but the omission is probably an oversight since he is one of the smartest thirty-one year old people blogging today. Someone should give them a heads up.

It saddens me to watch the soft edges of a youngster become calloused, but I suppose that is the stuff of growing up. It happened to all of us at one time or another, but in this case it seems to be happening in less than a year. Najma's early entries were mostly about school, family and a sister's new baby (hence her alias "Aunt Najma"). As the war came closer, as comments to her blog became tougher, she is being pulled from the sheltered environment of her obviously well-placed family, pressed to take sides in the conflict.

There is no way to predict how long her current post and long, painful string of comments will remain, but it is a micro-study in how quickly a crowd of people can be stirred into an argument. It is the internet equivalent to road rage, writ plain for all to read. Najma posts pictures, reportedly taken in her grandparents' house next door. The pictures compare some bullet holes that were photographed in July with more serious damage caused recently when Mosul became the focus of military advances against insurgents.

In her post, Najma refers to "American irresponsible soldiers" who shot and killed a student, along with "Tired of pressure? Shppt yourselves, not other people's kids" which is as confrontational as this teenager been. Her references to the war have been remarkably benign. I have had the feeling reading her blog that she just wants the whole thing to get finished so she can get on with life and stay focused on her schoolwork. She is obviously a bright, well-organized student.

At this writing there are nearly fifty comments published to this post. There is passion in all of them, as well as argument and dissention. Plenty of name-calling and finger pointing. Plenty of fault-finding. 2Slick, mentioned above, has been in Mosul before and has deep respect for the city and its heritage. I picked this up from one of his posts before the Fallujah engagement was underway. He took time to write a comment explaining the reason he is dropping her link from his blogroll. He said, in part

I was in Mosul with the 101st in 2003- so I am one of those "irresponsible soldiers" that you are so quick to blame for this incident. Funny how nobody called me "irresponsible" when me and my soldiers risked our lives by driving to Mosul University every single day in order to repair the damage that came not just from the Kurdish looting in March- but from 30 years of poor management and pure neglect. We spent $2.7 million US dollars at that place, despite more than a few efforts to kill us.

Let me give you a quick lesson (one that Osama bin Laden does not want you to hear). If an Islamic fascist terrorist attempts to kill me (an American), but ends up killing a Muslim child instead- that Islamic terrorist is to blame. It doesn't matter if it was shrapnel from the terrorist's bomb or bullets from the weapon I used to defend myself(defending one's own life from a terrorist attack is not "irresponsible", btw). This is a concept that people in your part of the world need to understand, and it needs to happen sooner than later. Bin Laden would argue (as you have) that the Americans would be responsible for the death of that Muslim child, and that he is therefore justified in orderingthe death of every American child- which makes the whole thing even more disgusting and despicable.

I am sorry to see that you have chosen to be one of those Islamofascists. I will now remove your link from my site.

Tough language from a warrior to a teenager, but it is a tough situation. I especially wince at the phrase "...people in your part of the world need to understand." Too bad I cannot afford the luxury of sympathizing with both of these good people, but I must bow to the demands of patriotism and take the soldier's side. Najma is becoming collateral damage in this fight. I must swallow that reality along with a lot of others that make me want to throw up.

Of course, by expressing sensitivity to someone now branded an enemy, I bring my own reputation and judgement into question. Nevetheless, that is my take on what is happening. This is one of the reasons I was a conscientious objector. Not only is my character poor material for a warrior, I really don't want to inactivate part of my heart in order to become one.

Under the circumstances I, too, am essentially dropping Najma's link from my little blogroll, burying it in a pile of stuff that will likely never generate traffic in her direction. That is my concession to the weight of public opinion, and admission that in her journey, Najma has taken a wrong turn.

Follow-up December 23...

I plan to keep this brief.
Despite the fact that Capt. 2Slick was straightforward and consistent with what he said, several posters to Najma's blog cannot let it alone. The comments section of her blog has become a nest of carping, about that and a lot more. Nothing would be lost if she decided to turn off comments altogether.
Some of the same posters from Najma's blog have left comments at 2Slick's Forum with the vain idea that an adult professional's mind might be changed by internet messages from a comments section of a weblog. That strikes me as a really empty waste of time and energy.
Always polite, the Captain has posted yet another response to some of his nagging critics in his own comments. This one merits repeating:

You guys are entitled to your opinions - thanks for stating your position. If you are mad that I removed her link- sorry, but you're going to stay mad.

A few "ill-chosen words?" "One comment that I didn't like?" Not even close. I believe she exposed her true feelings about us when she suggested that we "shoot ourselves," but that's far from being the only problem I have with her site. There is no grey area here. I will not support Islamofascist propaganda- she's spreading it (whether she realizes or not). Read her site.

She can post that stuff all she wants- I simply won't help her to distribute it. She's a young Riverbend as far as I can tell. I have every right to call her what I believe she is (a young Islamofascist propagandist) and to remove her link from my site. Not sure what the big deal is there.

Many others are posting very good comments on her site, especially
Lisa from NY-

My frustration with you is that you rarely acknowledge that there are two sides to the conflicts in your city. You almost make it sound as if American soldiers wake up every day thinking �What can we do to annoy Najma today?�

I appreciate people's continued efforts to "show her the light." They can do that all they want- I simply will not. My experience tells me they are barking up an already-polluted tree, and I believe that we have wasted many decades trying to "help and understand" Islamofascists. I believe the right answer is to leave them be, and concentrate our efforts towards helping the ones who are willing to stand up for freedom and democracy. Choose your battles wisely, I like to say. That's just me.

Jeff, you apparently think I'm acting like a teenager because I fail to sympathize with someone who just wrote a very lengthy post about American "atrocities" while neglecting to mention a single word about the Americans and Iraqis who had just been brutally murdered only miles from her home. If you can't read anything into that, then I probably can't help you either. Continue your efforts to support and understand her, and you will continue to be dissapointed. The good news, as far as I'm concerned, is that young Najma is far from being the voice of the majority over there.

I'm sure you're a nice guy, Jeff- but you remind me of the people who praise Arafat as a hero.

What can a reader not understand about that?

I'm not as convinced as he is that Najma is a "young Riverbend". I still see her as a latter day Anne Frank, but today she is not hiding in a secret place writing a private diary. Instead, she is standing naked before the world in a firestorm of conflicting ideas and opinions, revealing her inner thoughts for all to know. It's ironic. She is Muslim, and in the age of the internet she is doing the equivalent of wearing a gold star identifying her as one of those who risk being sent to the ovens.

But but my opinion in this matter is of no importance. I am prepared to wait, hope and pray for a good outcome. I will continue to follow Najma's blog, just as I also read Riverbend, Raed, Juan Cole and several more that would ruffle the feathers of a good many people.

At this point, too, I plan to move on with blogging and give the matter a rest.


bob (a.) said...

Capt. 2slick is currently in Kuwait , perhaps the reason for the ommission. He has done tours in Iraq, even handing out cash.

Deborah said...

What a heart-wrenching, sightful blog entry! Thank you.

That Mash Guy said...

Why take her link off your site? She is just a kid, is it not important that we see the effect that this war is having on the generation that in the long term it will affect most?

Every day on the news we see the fiscal damage, lives lost but we rarely get a chance to see the effect war has on the mind of an individual. In this case it is a teenager going through what will be the times that define her life.

If ever there was proof that war only creates confusion, fear and misunderstanding Najmas story is a perfect example.

It seems 2Slick is only willing to link to pages which share or confirm his point of view.

She is just a child, growing up in war. I think it's important to see what happens as things develop rather than to have a knee jerk reaction the moment she voices an opinion that people don't agree with.

Agitpropolite said...

Black White, Good Bad, Me You, American Islamofascist. This dichotomy may be necessary in a combat situation where you have to decide �to shoot or not to shoot� and so on . . . But this is not that situation. In this situation it�s simply counterproductive.

I agree with Casino, keep the link � honest dissent keeps you honest.

If we are going to win this thing over there, we need guys like Slick: brave fighters to be able to see the whole picture and not resort to this reductionist thinking. There are shades of grey here, and understanding the people you are trying to democratize is the only way this thing is going to work. Remember this war in the end can only be won if the Iraqis of their own freewill choose to make it work. Sometimes the ones that can tip the balance in our favor get angry. Najma thought the soldiers shot a child. If you believed that wouldn�t that make you mad? It would piss me off and I might say some things that I didn�t mean. It wouldn�t make me an Islamofascist and one comment certainly doesn�t make a confused Iraqi teen one either. We can�t write off people like her just because they said something we don�t like. Keeping her link and listening to her and those like her is the one and only key to victory.

Best - J

Steve said...

Thanks for adding Iraq Files to your links. I'm a soldier currently serving in the Middle East. My girlfriend and I run Iraq Files, and I add posts to my blog at

I've asked my girlfriend to add 2slick to our links as well. Thanks for the heads up. I've just starting looking at the Star from Mosul controversy and will be reading more of her posts soon. Thanks for discussing the controversy.


Linda said...

I remember reading on Najama site about the loss of her sisters husband's father. It was at the time when we were making the big move in Fallujah. She said it was the Americans who did it all. Then I read that the terrorists had moved in to Mosul and taken over the police stations and were shooting people all over the place. She never admitted that the killing could have been the evil ones. That is when I began to lose interest as it just seemed she was nothing more than a propogandist. Every thing that happens is always the Americans. She never admits the Islamofacists do anything wrong it is always just the Americans. She is obviously very well off (everyone in her family seems to have a mobile phone, her mom and dad each seem to have a car) she has unlimited internet and a digital camera, and she doesn't seem to lack for anything. I wonder if her folks are former ba'thists, maybe just on the fringes, but I have always heard, in Sadamm's Iraq you had to be of his party to collect very much wealth or property.

Linda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
M. Simon said...

I have removed "A Star from Mosul" from my blog roll.

I have replaced it with "The Iraq Files".

As in all wars this one will be decided in people's minds. The moral as Clauzwitz put it. The fighting - important as it is - is just a side show. A very deadly side show.

The purpose of the "side show" is to give different ideas a chance to grow. Weeding the garden if you will.

Keep weeding guys. The bad ideas and the men behind them will fade in time. The worst time is when every thing balances. That is the time of maximum pressure. I think we need to avoid the #1 mistake of the Japanese in WW2. And the American mistake in 'Nam. Giving up when victory is near because to gain that victory is going to take some more serious hurting.

You see it in the American press a lot these days. I get it in my e-mails. "Since Iraq is lost....". Victory is near. We are at the time of peak hurt. These are the times that try men's souls.

My prayers are with you all. You will prevail. For our sake and even more so for the sake of our enemies. Because, even if they gain the control they want they must always live in fear. Who will guard their backside? Who's support is real? Who is just mouthing the words?

M. Simon said...

Re: the Japanese.

I was thinking particularly of the Japanese attack on the supply ships and jeep carriers in the battle for the Phillipines. The Japanese were just about assured victory had they pressed on. An hour or less separated victory from defeat. They were defeated because they declined to pay the price of that hour.

Or consider our Civil War where the cry "We're Billy Sherman's bummers, you'd better git" was enough to chase the Confederates from the field.

Let us be Billy Sherman's bummers.

A word to the fascists - "you'd better git".