If you are new to reading blogs, or if you haven’t heard anything new about the war in Iraq for ages, you should get familiar with these four bloggers: Michael Yon, Michael Totten, Bill Roggio, and Bill Ardolino. They all write from Iraq and other Middle Eastern locations, and have unique access and expertise due to their self-directed tours and (in some cases) military experience.
- Michael Yon returned to Iraq in late December after a year or so of world travel. In 2005, he embedded for nine months with 1 Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment in Mosul. Now he is back in Iraq for all of 2007. His latest post is Walking the Line Part 2 of 3; other popular posts include Gates of Fire and Battle for Mosul Part III.
There is an explanation for why when some of these young soldiers and Marines go home and people are trying to talk with them they might be caught silently staring out a window. Many people back home seem to think they have an idea what is happening here, but most do not. And nobody is here to tell the story of our people in this war.
- Michael Totten, a freelance journalist, covers events throughout the Middle East. Sample escapades: looking into Gaza from IDF positions or crossing the Turkish border into northern Iraq in a rented car. He was in Beiruit for the Cedar Revolution and again for the recent Hezbollah rallies. His most recent post is The Seige of Ain Ebel; other highlights include this series featuring a Hezbollah press agent:
Me: Yes, hello sir, may I please speak with Mr. Hussein ________?
Hezbollah: One moment please.
(Cheesy 19th Century American Wild West saloon music played in my ear while I was on hold.)
Me: Yes, hello sir, is this Mr. Hussein ________?
Hezbollah: (Suspiciously) Yes.
- Bill Roggio, a former infantryman and signalman, took leave from his job to travel to Iraq in November 2005. In May 2006 he went to Afghanistan for two months, and in December 2006 he returned to Iraq. Mr. Roggio’s most recent post is Iranian Qods Force Agents Detained in Irbil Raid; see also (for starters) The Military and the Media, The State of the Jihad (2006), and The Rise & Fall of Somalia’s Islamic Courts.
The travel is long, and it can be boring if you let it get to you. But you’re surrounded by a bunch of soldiers, Marines and contractors that are also traveling, many of them alone. … This is an interesting time to speak to them, because they are not as engrossed in the daily grind of Iraq as they are when I see them while I’m embedded.
- Bill Ardolino, a marketing manager from Washington, D.C., is the proprieter of the blog INDC Journal. He went to Iraq in late December for a one-month embed. Mr. Ardolino’s most recent post is In the Jacksonian Tradition: An Interview with Lance Corporal Nathan (Chad) Yeager. His first post from Iraq was Dateline Baghdad: “This is for Saddam”; see also On Patrol With Team Gator.
The primary intent of my trip is to assess parts of the situation in Anbar, one of the two pivotal political and warfighting theatres of the conflict in Iraq. Of course the other theatre, subject to intense media attention, is Baghdad, the internationally recognized political center of gravity and violent microcosm of the country’s larger ethnic divisions. Don’t mistake outsized media focus for narrative clarity, however: trying to decipher just what’s going on in Baghdad – much less the entirety of Iraq – is a bewilderingly complex task…
Also, don’t miss Michelle Malkin’s posts from her ongoing trip outside the Green Zone. “We have much to report and will be publishing a multi-part video and audio series, blog posts, and op-eds on security conditions, media malpractice, and the big picture on the war next week.”
The blogosphere enjoys a lot of excellent military writing from all over. Some of the best “milblogs” include Blackfive, Op-For, and Mudville Gazette. There are also excellent bloggers currently on active duty, such as Acute Politics (which takes its title from a Robert Frost poem).
Mr. Yon, Mr. Totten, Mr. Roggio, Mr. Ardolino, and others like them undertake serious risks to cover events in the Middle East that traditional media cannot or do not cover. (It is expensive to send a professional journalist to Iraq.) They are supported primarily by readers’ donations and non-profits like Spirit of America. The war is so politicized, yet so thinly covered, that all responsible citizens should thoroughly inform themselves by reading these and other embedded bloggers, as well as traditional reporting.
- Hugh Hewitt interviews Michael Yon, speaking from Iraq; Helen Reynolds interviews Michael Totten last October.
- Under the titles Everything Could Explode at Any Moment and The Hezbollah War, collections of Michael Totten’s writing on Lebanon appeared in the first series issued by revival publisher The New Pamphleteer.