Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Blogging from the Front

An interesting article from Tuesday's Christian Science Monitor discusses one of the most unique aspects of the Iraq and Afghan campaigns: the ability of soldiers to tell their own stories directly via e-mail and blogs:

Countless soldiers - some recently returned from the war, others still there - have set up their own Web logs or "blogs" and chat rooms, communicating their day-to-day war experience, complaining about the brass (as all soldiers do), and looking for support. All of which raises a question about war in the Age of the Internet: Is all this electronic chatter good or bad for morale and discipline?

Soldiers are able to have direct and frequent e-mail exchanges with friends and families at home as well as check out websites providing a view of how things are going in Iraq that may differ from official accounts. One well-visited blog is written by a 25 year-old Iraqi woman in Baghdad reporting on civilian life.

Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette, himself a military blogger, offers his own thoughts on the Monitor article, as well as links to a number of soldier blogs from Iraq.

Military blogs like Greyhawk's, and Iraqi blogs such as Iraq the Model have been an invaluable source of overlooked news and first-person perspective. For example, you'll find few better sources on events in Fallujah over the last year than The Green Side, a collection of e-mails written by a Marine officer. Blogs and circulated e-mails have allowed soldiers and others to disseminate their stories directly to the public, bypassing the filter of the elite media.

With so much of the elite media coverage of Iraq plagued by hysterical defeatism and an utter lack of perspective, the "ground truth" provided by military bloggers has helped provide a balanced view of events in that country.


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