(Originally written Thursday, March 30, 2006)
People are always asking me: "Josh, why don't you write a little something about Iraq? After all, you are a soldier in the American army and a journalist. You're currently in the desert in the middle of a war that's been going on for years. The stress, adventure, excitement and range of emotions you and all of our other brave fighting men and women overseas go through must be enormous and lend itself to a number of interesting and heart wrenching stories! Tell us Josh! Tell us about what it is like to be so far from home fighting against those who would see democracy crumble!"
You see, that shit's been done to death. Military blogs are a ridiculous cliché now. They all end up being written by two types of soldiers, (keep in mind here that I've not actually read any soldier blogs, I just happen to acquire information through osmosis, and I pretty much think I know it all anyway. If you think I shouldn't comment on a subject simply because I know absolutely nothing about it and I'm making wild generalizations, then this isn't the blog for you. And if you do think I should make comments without having any actual evidence to back up what I'm saying, then you're probably a Bill O'Reilly fan!) those who are great American patriots, and those soldiers who are shocked by the "senselessness of it all."
The first type of military blogs is (yes, I used "is" instead of "are." Is agrees with the singular use of the word type) full of soldiers tooting their own horns, full of pictures and stories about how they gave some weird-lookin Iraqi kids with snot running down their faces pencils and paper and rulers. "What a great thing we did!" these soldiers exclaim. "We have brought education and enlightenment to the poor huddled Iraqi masses!" Nevermind the fact that these kids don't even know how to write their own names and the illiteracy rate in this country is ridiculously high, pencils and paper is all people need to drag themselves out of poverty.
These blogs also wonder, with great pain, why the American media only focuses on the "negative" stories and not the "positive" ones. Every time you open a newspaper you're assaulted by stories of soldiers being attacked and killed by Iraqi insurgents, never do you read about the water treatment plant we just fixed and reopened and the electrical towers that were just erected that now bring power to a 200-mile swath of land from Baghdad to Kirkuk, is what the blogs tell us over and over again, beating us over the head with this information until we submit that the benevolent intentions the American military have are the best ever! (For those who notice these things, that was an extremely long and complex sentence that probably doesn't come out on paper was well as it sounded in my head. Thank you for tolerating this digression, and now back to the column!)
The thing is, those newspapers do have stories about those water plants and electrical towers. The stories appear later, when the insurgents have destroyed the plants and pulled the towers down.
The second type of military blogs is nothing but questions soldiers have for their leaders, but don't ask out of fear of disembowelment or something. Whole pages are devoted to the austere living conditions, bland food and insane weather. Complaints and bitter words abound in these blogs. They might also feature pictures and tributes to their dead friends. "Why did Sgt. Joe Blow have to die!?" they question vehemently. Those blogs are way too negative for my taste.
You see, if I did a military blog I'd be forced to make mine conform to one of these two categories. And I just don't dig on that. I'm too egotistical and full of myself to be a sheep. I've gotta break free of the pack, do my own thing, ride the wave, push the envelope, go to the extreme, yada yada yada, etcetera etcetera, and so forth.
On the other hand one sergeant I know just got a book deal because of his blog, so maybe it's not too late to reconsider the format of Eighty-Four Glyde, (the name of this blog in case you were wondering). After all, the only thing more important than integrity and morals is a big ass pile of cash!
Tune in next time when I talk about how bad things are for me because I only get five cable channels and how I can barely go on out here because they only stock ribeye steaks at the PX.