Here is a comment from Bill Roggio about these posts about war bloggers, posted with his permission.
The series you have run here is valuable. I am very interested in seeing how this plays out. I certainly appreciate both the tone and nature of your postings, and your willingness to have a civil and productive discussion. We need more of this kind of debate and analysis, and less of the uncivil “debates” – if you can call them that – that exist throughout much of the Internet. My sincerest thanks.
I appreciate you taking the time to give my responses the attention of its own post. Your response is fair, there is little I disagree with – and we can agree to disagree on the analysis issue of is there a government of Iraq per item #6, as it should be.
I’d like to make one clarification, and that is if you are going to make broad generalizations about war-bloggers (such as being upbeat/positive), then cite me as the prime example of a war-blogger for the Basrah situation, I think the reader would automatically assume that I would be considered an upbeat/positive war-blogger. This was my reasoning for the response you addressed in item #7. You clarification certainly makes sense and I accept your reasoning.
I do understand the limitations of space and the challenges that exist in communicating to the audience and that imperfect generalizations must be made. I (and no doubt the rest of the media) have the same challenges. Trying to communicate to an audience without writing thousands of words that forces a reader to tune out is a difficult task.
A few comments in reply.
First, I agree my post giving him as an example of the war bloggers was, as our politicos say, insufficiently nuanced. I have added an update to that post, noting that Roggio and Totten are imo among the best of the war blogggers. As Roggio noted, discussions about groups rely on generalizations — and these apply imperfectly to individuals.
Second, I have learned much from the discussions with Michael Totten and Bill Roggio, the comments to these posts, and the emails from others about them. My thanks to all of you.
Third, our disagreements about Iraq seem to be more about framing of events than specific facts or even analysis. In what sense is Iraq still a nation, and does it have a legitimate government? With disagreement on such things, no wonder our discussions often sound like meetings at the Tower of Babel! This will be discussed in a later post.
To recap, this series discusses war bloggers. War bloggers are an understudied phenomenon that I believe important for two reasons.
- They play an increasing role in shaping the American public’s view of the war — especially so as they move into the mainstream media.
- They are a powerful example of the disintermediation of news coverage — one of the most important effects so far of the Internet, and in the long run perhaps one of the most influential. We increasingly rely on the Internet as our window on the world, instead of the media industry. Does this make us smarter — or dumber? Much depends on the answer.
- Recent events in Basra provides a test case. Who provides better reporting and analysis? The answer will likely be clear in the next few weeks.
“Area experts” thousands of miles away, but knowing the history, languages, and society of Iraq. Or…
War bloggers, often with far less deep knowledge about Iraq but reporting from ground zero.
Two things I stated at the beginning bear repeating.
There are no neutrals about the Iraq War. Watch for the narratives!
Someone who can knowledgeably discuss events in Dallas might know little about Basra. An analysis based on reports in the media probably just piles ignorance on top of ignorance.
For more information about the War Bloggers and the Iraq War
- Three blind men examine the Iraq Elephant (6 February 2008)
- The oddity of reports about the Iraq War (13 March 2008) — Some theories why after 5 years we still debate basic things about the Iraq War.
- War porn (25 March 2008) – Discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the war-bloggers’ reporting in Iraq.
- More views of the events at Basra (2) — bloggers and war-bloggers (28 March 2008) – Contrast the war bloggers’ reports with those of some experts.
- A rebuttal to “War Porn” (it takes 2 sides to have a discussion)(29 March 2008) — Someone writes a defense of the war bloggers, and my reply.
- A look at the writings of “war blogger” Michael J. Totten (31 March 2008) – extracts of his posts from 2003 – 2005.
- An email discussion with Michael Totten (31 March 2008)
- Evidence of the war bloggers’ growing influence (2 April 2008)
- Basra, a test case: war blogger’s vs. experts (2 April 2008)
- Experts’ views about the recent fighting in Basra (2 April 2008)
- Sources of the Instapundit’s knowledge — analysis or cartoons? (3 April 2008)
- Some comments by Bill Roggio, Editor of the Long War Journal (3 April 2008)
- Archive of links to articles about the Iraq War — My articles, and links to several by Niall Ferguson.
- Our Goals and Benchmarks for the Expedition to Iraq