The Deafening Silence of the “Milbloggers”: Inconvenient Truths?


Perhaps one should rejoice at the sudden, refreshing change where the crowd of “milbloggers” (military bloggers, counter-bloggers, and militarist cheerleaders) has gone silent. What makes the moment difficult to celebrate is that they have chosen to go silent at this time and on this issue — I am referring specifically to this piece:

Some Breaking News on the Human Terrain System:
Death Threats Against Female Colleagues

We are speaking here of persons who are, after all, serving in a military-run program, persons who have served in the military in other capacities previously. Are they the enemy now? Were you not all on the same side? Do you not care about the welfare of those who “serve the country” and who “wear the uniform”? What about the rights of women — remember your massive outpouring of what now appears to have been convenient and selective “grief” over Paula Loyd? Where is your Oprah moment now? Remember your outrage against “Afghan culture” and how the men are like inferior animals who abuse their women? Where is all that patriotism, outrage, and wonderful concern for the rights of women now? Where is you “pitchfork parade”? Where is the barrage of people posting from Afghanistan and ISP’s curiously close to Fort Leavenworth who would rush in here at the first chance they could find to bend the discussions underway so that the appropriate Pentagon or State Department perspective could win the day?

How about you “independent minded” military bloggers? Are you trying your best mime imitation right now? Did you have to choose this moment to practice? Or have your delicate little fingers suddenly gone numb from your latest keyboard commando exercise against the newest traitor who dares to speak an idea, or reveal some information, that you would rather not hear (and therefore want to prevent others from hearing)? Or is it that you left the room, looking for a replacement seat cushion for the next time you dive into cyberspace with your unit of the 101st Chairborne?

Silence is complicity, some say, but it is also moral and intellectual cowardice. For those who doubted, look at how “patriotism” really works, how it abandons or devours its own, while wiping away imaginary tears for “the men and women in uniform” who “proudly serve their country.” But look at them turn away now. That is correct, I am referring to you specifically, the chest-beating, nationalist heroes at:

Abu Muqawama


Feral Jundi

Free Range International

Matt “Mountain Runner” Armstrong

Et tu…Old Blue?

Soldier’s Perspective and the others of the self-proclaimed “Noble Duty Milblogger Coalition”

Small Wars Council

Susan Katz Keating


…and all the other fine “Milblogs

As always, however, let us not rush to judgment. They might not all be AWOL in the finest war-faring traditions of their illustrious statesmen, the various chickenhawks known as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and George aWol Bush. They might simply be MIAs in cyberspace. Prepare your yellow ribbons and appropriate bumper stickers, just in case.

Update: Inconvenient truths? Perhaps, but also a poor definition of “milblogging” at work above. See some of the comments that follow below. See also the addenda to the story linked to above, found in comments on that story.


141 thoughts on “The Deafening Silence of the “Milbloggers”: Inconvenient Truths?

  1. Mars Ultor

    When my old flying buddy, now a colonel in the Air National Guard, who is an Air Force Academy graduate rather than a ROTC product as I am, learned of Marilyn Dudley-Flores’ firing and the evident cover-up that motivated it, he responded, “But that is the Army way and realistically the military way and the government way.”

    His statement made me question, for the first time ever, whether this government bears true faith to the Constitution that he and I swore to support and defend. Not that I would have any faith in a new revolution to restore the Constitution. As ignorant as Americans are today of our institutions of governance, a new revolution would probably end up as most revolutions have in other countries: with a dictatorship. No, the only American revolution is the original one, and it is up to each of us to keep that flame for the brief time that we are on the Earth. Those who rationalize that “the mission comes first,” when what they really mean is that their organization or program, and by extension, their career, comes first, are not serving the mission. None of these things come first. What comes first is honor; all other virtues flow from this, the light to see the true mission comes from this, and only this can keep the revolution alive. Devoid of honor, we inflict more damage upon each other and upon our country than any foreign enemy ever can.

  2. ryan anderson

    “Remember your outrage against “Afghan culture” and how the men are like inferior animals who abuse their women? Where is all that patriotism, outrage, and wonderful concern for the rights of women now?”

    great point max. apparently the concern for women is politically constrained. imagine that.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Yes, but it’s not like they will “correct” themselves, or write as much, I bet. On this, you will see a lot of people suddenly tip-toeing on egg shells, where before they were stomping around in their hobnailed boots. Thanks again for visiting, Ryan.

      1. ryan anderson

        funny how quickly people will condemn millions of people based upon their slim stereotypical beliefs, isnt it? and ya, i agree with you that many people will remain amazingly silent on this.

  3. zenpundit

    Hello Max.

    Your unsourced John Stanton “story” post is dated Feb. 26, so you’re not really giving the people you don’t actually know but despise so intensely much time to react to something I’m doubrful they have read yet as your friend does not appear to be writing for the New York Times or the Washington Post. Why don’t you try emailing them or leaving a comment/link and see what they have to say before engaging in ad hominem personal attacks ?

    Andrew Exum, a.k.a. “Abu Muqawama” served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, speaks and reads Arabic and spends a fair amount of his time in the Mideast. I really do not think he would approve of the events in your “story”, assuming that they are true. Go visit his site and ask him for a comment.

    The Small Wars Council has very few civilians in it’s membership, most are active duty or retired military personnel and the percentage of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan is significant. Some have served many tours of duty there or were career FAO’s for the MENA region. The SWC forum is open for anyone to register – why don’t you do so and engage some of the members directly in debate on this issue?

    I am not a “milblogger” and neither is Matt Armstrong – not in any sense that actual milbloggers would recognize nor have I ever written about Paula Lloyd. Armstrong is not particularly “militaristic” either as he primarily blogs about public diplomacy. I’m not familiar with the other blogs you have cited.

    If your story is true it’s horrible and deserves the widest attention possible so that such wrongs can be corrected and the guilty punished. However your article amounts to very serious accusations against specific individuals without support from anything that would actually appear to be evidence, as normal, rational, non-Marxist anthropologist academics would use the word.

    Perhaps that’s why Rep. Woolsey is keeping quiet until she sees the results of the investigation.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I have become a glutton for counter-swipes, so I appreciated your comments. My apologies for assuming that others had not seen this story yet, it seems that quite a few others have, and you at least saw my little provocation here. I have serious reservations about both the NYT and WP, and I remember that at least one of those backed the claims that Iraq had WMDs (so much for those rational non-Marxists and their “evidence” — I know quite a few academics, myself included, who never bought the story from the first time it was floated, an apt metaphor. Along with the likes of Scott Ritter, we were regularly ridiculed and demonized).

      Seriously though, and I began to worry about this only as I finished the post: I did not have a good, conscious definition of what a “milblogger” was. You reject the definition as applied to yourself and Matt Armstrong, so I have to take that into account, especially given my own lack of a proper definition. I was apparently using a very broad notion, which included those who are in the military and blogging, those who have no blogs but who tour blogs to post their devastating bits of counter propaganda, those who are neither but who cheer everything military, and those who do the science of conquest (which is probably where you fit in). Anyway, one day I will stumble across some decent working definition of “milblogger” and my “targeting” will be more precise. Sorry for nudging you, though I honestly appreciate the visit and the comments.

      Best wishes.

  4. RYP

    I don’t know if I would include Matt Armstrong aka Mountain Runner in that list. You might want to toss in another Matt at Feral Jundi. He parrots much of what is tossed around and seems to be dog whistle deaf to logic or facts.

    Matt Armstrong is an academic, an opened minded critical thinker focused on PMCs and other topics. Also I find that some of the people on that list use their real names and accordingly are far more responsible and ethical in providing criticism or opinion.

    Despite their flags and militaria I find that their style is an exact adaption of psyops or Dezinformatsiya, a Soviet tactic to inject falsehoods into the news and public perception stream to undermine public confidence in critics.

    I have a bigger question. If there is a link between DoD program leaders and the use of U.S. based milbloggers to influence taxpayers (usually directly or through contracted image management contractors like the Lincoln Group) For example the HTS uses a former Lincoln Group employee to do their research and hired a former Lincoln Group employee to do their PR.

    There is much bragging about the milbloggers contacts with PAO’s, troops and contractors but very little clear sourcing for their information. In my particular case I noticed three talking points (easily disprovable claims) being recycled even after they were clearly refuted. Then there is usually a pause while they wait for their handlers to come up with new talking points. One think is clear…they don’t like to be reached out and touched. :)) I encourage anyone who is intentionally maligned or insulted by these anonymous rumorists to match their shrill inventions with a calm recounting of the facts.

    But you are right Max. At a time when the HTS program should have clear “Crisis control” and open communications we are faced with disinformation and smear campaigns from hooded internet terrorists.


    PS John… I think my question was simple and not meant to be insulting, I simply asked if you got the “other side” of the story. I personally like to hear both sides of a controversy so I can form an educated opinion.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Excellent points, especially concerning the Lincoln Group connections with HTS and the domestic propaganda front.

      Also, it seems that the definition of “milblogger” is, in the usage of others, a narrower concept than mine (which is fine), and it seems that I will only be able to come up with a definition through actual practice, that is, exchanges and interaction such as these. Anyway, it really is the ethnographic approach to stumble around and fall numerous times before one begins to understand what things mean in another culture and how a given space is arranged. In my case, the stumbling is done out in the open.

      Regarding Zenpundit’s suggestion that I go directly to those blogs and ask them for a response, that’s interesting, because he is placing me back in a double-bind that I created for myself. If I follow his suggestion, that means essentially forcing them to respond, or to continue ignoring these issues, which creates an artificial situation where they speak because I created the conditions and parameters for the speech. On the other hand, this very blog post does that, besides the fact that we are all often quite aware of what each of us is writing on our blogs, so that the seemingly indirect communication ends up being quite direct. In other words, I am going to do nothing more except watch.

  5. RYP


    Definition of a milblogger:

    1) Must blindly support a right wing agenda, manufacturered “talking points” and assume outrage using a dictionary of invented hot button terminology (moonbat, pitchfork etc)

    2) Must echo and repeat “truisms” intertwined with hollow patriotic outrage. Foundation of knowledge MUST be based in anonymous, “ground truth” patriots who

    3) Must not publicly respond, modify or engage in accepted critical thinking caused by direct and contradicting information

    4) Must always adopt the position that critical thinking is a)unpatriotic, b)stupid c) false and d) motivated by dark and sinister forces (which is confirmed directly by their own agenda and methods)

    Their goals are pretty simple. They want the hits. They want the attention. They must game Google. By increasing hits, links, trackbacks and generally outshouting the original offending article they strive to reinvent truth. Its a quantity vs quality issue that Google (because of its ad based plan) has yet to correct.

    The Identifiers:

    1) Flags, militaria, patriotic statements, military charities, links to other milbloggers
    2) MSM is evil (even though they live like remoras on the sharks they hate)
    3) The truth is in my mom’s basement. Few milbloggers are actually doing anything remotely related to fighting wars. The concept of blogging, internet access and ability to spend inordinate amounts of time clash.
    4) The victim, the talking points and the echo..leading to the accepted truth resonating throughout the milblogger world…
    5) The kernel of unshakeable manufactured truth. The building block and cultural touchstone. The “everyone knows” factoid building block of their castle.

    I could list the Hall of Shame for the more strident Bush era milbloggers…but we shall see how they function and survive in these more moderate times.

    I had a bit of an intro to this when researching the stalking and intimidation tactics used by a con artist who paid women to blog about him while he was in prison. He also created numerous anonymous blogs to talk about himself and then link to his own manufactured milblogs. Then he would alter and edit news stories about himself, and link to those to deflect finding the real story.

    Fascinating stuff and all part of the homefront “war on terror”. Many of these people are hate and rumor mongers posing as “patriotic Americans”. Some have very interesting day to day stories of their time in the field and others are literally cranky old men and women with plenty of time on their hands. Sadly they have been harnessed by tax payer funded psyops program to shape opinion and its one of the dirty secrets of milblogging.

    BTW You can contact google directly and provide provide of illegal and ill intent and they will remove or significantly downgrade a bloggers search hits.

    And no Max…do not go on their blogs…they egogoogle themselves incessantly…the vultures will arrive in good time. They just need to be fed their daily dose of bile so they can regurgitate it on your site. I applaud you in your efforts to push back against anonymous thugs.

  6. zenpundit

    Hi Max,

    Thank you for your polite response.

    Milbloggers are generally active duty or recently served veteran bloggers or those who embed with military units and write exclusively about military operations, equipment, affairs or culture usually at a small unit or granular level of detail that you can read being discussed at the SWC There are many, many, very conservative, political, bloggers who focus on the domestic aspects of Iraq/terrorism etc. policy but military ppl are very touchy about such civilians trying to pose as milbloggers or thinking that political opinions substitute for knowledge of conditions on the ground.

    “Science of conquest” is an interesting term but you are correct that strategy and integrated national security policy is more what I do and there’s a subset of bloggers like me, mostly academics and policy wonk folks like Matt, who cover those issues. Normative opinions regarding the war and it’s execution though vary amongst them more than you would expect and more than within the milblogging community.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Excellent notes as well Zenpundit. I have amended the post above so that people could see my initial assumptions, and then the correction (I followed Pelton’s advice and added Feral Jundi to the list). The useful thing about my mistaken assumption is that it provoked exchanges such as this one — had I foreseen that, I might have deliberately planned to make the “mistake” of broadly casting the “milblogging” net as I did.

      Some people might mistake “collaboration” to mean something like mutual support and reinforcement engaged in by like-minded people — but the sorts of exchanges we see here, between yourself, Pelton, and myself, are exactly a manifestation of the kind of open ethnographic collaboration that I think more anthropologists should try out.

      [In a very extreme sense, outside of this arena, one might argue that Al Qaeda collaborates with the U.S. (again, not in any simple, mutually supportive sense), and this is one of the reasons why I resent Al Qaeda’s politics, reflective of what the cultural psychologist, Ashis Nandy, described as typecast, ornamental dissent that is a mere mirror image of that which it opposes. Now that their alternate is no longer Bush, but rather Obama (with a different aesthetic and tone), I want to see if they adjust to suit (or if they continue the “house negro” line).]

      It’s not a challenge for me to be polite, with some notable exceptions of course: the kind of very harsh tirades I have written against McFate, ending several months ago, which I have since come to see as often off target, and parts of which I regret on many different levels (I don’t delete certain posts just not to pretend like I never wrote them and falsely play innocent later on). Usually I need to be attacked very personally and in a very offensive manner to drop any sense of proper decorum.

      1. marctyrrell

        Hi Max,

        The concept of milblogging tends, as zenpundit notes, to be current or past veterans. Honestly, RYPs characterization of milbloggers is totally off the mark.

        There is some very interesting academic work going on via the community of bloggers interested in warfare, as opposed to a more restrictive “milblogger” set; I’m thinking of Andrew Exum, Zenpundit, Matt Armstrong, the folks at the CT Lab, etc. (okay, and myself as well… :) ). I certainly agree with you that “collaboration”, as a term, needs to return to its earlier sense – the one you use.

        I want to talk about the SWC for a moment. Very few of the people who post on the SWC meets RYP’s requirements – indeed, people like that tend to get banned fairly quickly. Most of the people I know on the SWC, and that is most of them, have a tendency to treat people as individuals rather than political identities. Is it a “pro-military” site? Absolutely. Is it a “pro-imperialist” site? That, my friend, is much harder buit, after having spent several years there, I would have to say “No, it isn’t”.

        The focus at the SWC is much more on the pragmatics (and theory) of conflict, rather than on political justifications for conflict. Strangely enough (*I* don’t think it’s strange, but…), it is also a very accepting community that demands only one thing from new members – respect the other members and agree to disagree when you do. There is little respect, from the moderators at least, for anyone who spouts rhetoric without a serious attempt to engage, be that neo-con, liberal, left-wing, etc.

        I suspect that you listed them as “milbloggers” because they tend to take what appears to be an uncritical stance when it comes to current wars. Personally, and I’ve know these guys for over two years, I think they do take a critical stance on *new* wars, as they have on the current ones, but this is moderated by a worldview that is focused on “this is what we have to deal with, so how do we do it?”. Furthermore, and again I’m talking about the moderators and major posters, this focus on the “pragmatics” of COIN is one of the factors that has lead to changes in current operations and, I suspect, to future US operations.

        As a case in point, when the HTS was first announced, there was a lot of blowback on it. In particular, many of the people there had never heard about Operation Phoenix being used for targeted assassinations – they learned about it very quickly and, quite frankly, were disgusted. Again, going to a case in point, many of the people on the SWC had no idea why Anthropologists would be adverse to “helping out”. After all, why should they know – most have never studied Anthropology! Now they know and, in general, tend to respect the individual ethical considerations involved now that they know why they are there.

      2. marctyrrell

        Final comment – I would have responded earlier, but I had a choir practice and I have guests coming over for dinner (grin). Great discussion, BTW.

      3. Maximilian Forte

        One of the best discussions in a while I think. Thanks for your own inputs on SWC. I listed it there because its editor once appeared on this site and posted exactly like one of the milbloggers described by RYP.

  7. RYP

    I think there needs to be plywood between people like Michael Yon who actually document what they see and do with a clear agenda and anonymous faux patriots who react to what other people see and do without clear understanding of the source of their pack mentality.

    Yon is a PAO’s wet dream but you have to respect him for what he does, even if you might not agree with his opinions. They are well formed. Bill Roggio is another excellent journo who masquerades as a milblogger :))

  8. John Stanton

    RYP: Here is the standard response. I sent all links on HTS to them about 10 days ago. If you pick up the September 2008, US Army UW Manual (a tremendous read) you’ll find out about their role in DIMEFIL. I too like both sides, but one side believes there are few problems. Did Henry Rollins approve Black Flag?

    I’ve read many of the comments there and look forward to posting (waiting on my key,,,your admin is slow). Some in the communities I associate with believe you are a US intelligence asset with clearances (National Geographic not CIA being the giveaway–according to them) or that if you are a Canadian that that effort runs through the Canadian intelligence machinery with linkage to US intel. I shrug my shoulders and say, who cares, so what if he is. Trust no one.

    Max: great job on pushing the mil-folks and the mil-wanna be types.

  9. RYP

    I see the new press release on the HTS program. Looks like that will push back any criticism. :))

    Sadly John, although I have chatted with Henry when I invited him one of my trips..(he declined). the Black Flag predates his band and is an enduring symbol for those who understand real freedom. :))



  10. John Stanton

    Got it…Like Rollins…

    Real freedom is understanding that freedom is administered. Marcuse was right.

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  12. Susan Katz Keating

    Very funny, RYP. Hahahaha… But what’s this about the “invented hot button terminology?” You yourself maintain a dictionary of copywrited RYPisms over on your Cafe site. Guess that makes you a milblogger! And I personally take credit for “Pitchfork Brigade” and “Snarkiest Man Alive.”

    Meanwhile, to repeat what I wrote in our private email exchange: If a military program is useless, counterproductive, harmful, or wasteful, it should be cut. If it works, it should remain in place. The key issue when examining such program, however, is approach and credibitliy. If you take on a snarky tone while writing a purportedly serious piece, you can’t be surprised when readers cry foul.

    As for the sillly postulates on talking points and the like. Again, as I wrote in my email: they don’t exist. As an avid reader of my blog, I’m sure you know that sometimes I support the various services’ actions and policies; and sometimes I don’t. I was highly critical of goings-on at Air Force for a while. At one point, my blog was blocked from being accessed by Pentagon servers. I continue to press for consistent and humane policy towards troops afflicted with PTSD. And yes, I do support the troops.

    Any questions?

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Sorry that I didn’t credit you personally for “pitchfork brigade”, I was not sure if it was something in more general use like “milblogger.” Anyway, I rather like it! But perhaps for reasons you might not have intended. Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment.

      1. Susan Katz Keating

        No prob, Max. Not sure what you think I intended, but I’m glad you like it. The name speaks to a long standing tradition of grass roots activism in this country. Not quite the Canadian experience… although I am delighted to report first hand knowledge that you folks do in fact have special forces, so I guess that means you also sometimes defend yourselves…. and support your troops… ; )

  13. RYP

    Thanks John for using unsourced innuendo to get me killed on my next foray. Your sources have never worked with intel or know much about me. I could never get a clearance let alone work within the intel environment

  14. John Stanton

    RYP: you know this view has been out and about concerning you for a long time. Why all of a sudden am I of concern?

    Me being a nobody, how could I possibly affect your gigs.

    As Hugh Gusterson said, thanks to HTS, many sincere anthro’s are viewed by subject groups in other countries as US Gov spies. Long live HTS.


  15. John Stanton

    Have to add one comment to RYP—

    Intelligence is what many sources are about.

    You know some of the sources, I suppose, thanks to your relationship with McFate and Fondacaro, You have no clue about how deep this worm goes with intel functions all over the community,

    You decided to join the HTS madness, so welcome to the club.


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  17. RYP

    “RYP: you know this view has been out and about concerning you for a long time.”

    Really John… Its like asking someone whether its true that they didn’t have sex with a 13 year old…

    You obviously know very little about me… or my views…or even less about my work. I might be one of the few people who has filmed, recorded and documented exactly how I get into, around and out of the World’s Most Dangerous Places…in fact I write a 1000 page book on it

    To say that I work for Canadian intelligence, U.S. intelligence etc etc infers that I am on someone’s payroll or I have an allegiance to a government intelligence gathering organization or something that would color my natural sense of self funded curiosity. Next time someone tells you that please have them contact me directly and I will set them straight.

    I am sure that the OGA and other groups know exactly who I am (they buy my books by the case load) but I rarely if ever bump into them where I go. In fact you would enjoy a very humorous article I wrote when I was looking for Bin Laden. (I used to be in the same town as him in 96) And I don’t work for National Geographic, I wrote for Adventure Magazine now I write for Men’s Journal.

    1. Old Blue

      It’s funny how it’s convenient for you to be working for the military when it’s convenient to be, but when it’s not, you don’t:

      On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 12:43 AM, RYP wrote:

      You may not tell people that I work directly for the highest military command in Afghansitan and that my embed was set up at the highest level.

      So what’s the truth? What you wrote to me, or what you’re putting out now? Contradicting yourself is a sport for you, RYP.

      If anyone’s going to get you killed, it’s the way that you suck up to people in order to embed and then you use your bully pulpit to slam them if it suits you, distorting the facts and lying about participants. Don’t blame anyone else for criticizing crap when they recognize it for crap and pointing out falsehoods when they see them. It’s not others pointing out the contradictions that will cast you in a suspicious light; it’s making the contradictions in the first place.

  18. eliza2009

    Max, sorry for my own silence even if I don’t have a blog and I am not part of the group you were addressing here. I am active with a native women’s organization here in Montreal (more when we meet) and I definitely call myself a feminist, for starters. I have heard some pretty ugly stories at women’s shelters and I have seen some gross sexual harassment in the workplace. This story is not the worst I have come across, but it’s getting there. My jaw hit the floor when I first read the HTS piece by Stanton and I just saw that you added some photos too. They substantiate both sexual harassment and implied death threats. If the American government does nothing about this it’ll only be one more case that puts a big fat lie to its loud shouts about women’s rights in Afghanistan. This happened in Afghanistan, and no Taliban were involved. To hell with pitchfork parades, I want to see the same sympathy parade for Dudley Flores that we saw with Paula Loyd!

  19. zenpundit

    Thank you Max, for the corrective strike and for the discussion.

    RYP: Very much enjoyed your book! I keep it handy on the shelf for students who need a non-academicized, non-sanitized, glimpse at the world.

  20. John Stanton

    Max, RYP, All–

    Max, perhaps you should spread this around to the fellow HTS cast and crew. We are all in this together..

    Read some of your stuff RYP. When in DC next, let me know. Perhaps a few beverages and some non HTS talk.

    Check this out—-

  21. Old Blue

    John, I read your article about the “death threats,” and it was miserable. Your obsession with writing about the HTS is a bit odd. Why the focus? What do you think of the firing of Lisa Verdon? Do you know Lisa? What is your relationship?

    I’m thinking of deconstructing your piece, because Dudley-Flores doesn’t appear to be a very credible source, anyway. Go and read up on who is authorized to wear a blue Infantry cord, my friend. Then go and look at the page referenced above and her “official” photo as a PFC. Then read her claim to be “among the first” women to wear the Infantry blue cord. At least she doesn’t say “authorized,” because there has never been a woman in the history of the Army who has been authorized to wear the blue cord, the first requirement of which is to be qualified as an Infantryman, enlisted or commissioned. Since that is is gender-specific, it is physically impossible for Dudley-Flores to have ever earned that MOS, therefore she was a poseur when she wore it.

    It is actually a crime under UCMJ to wear decorations or devices to which one is not entitled. The picture on that site is actually a military crime in progress.

    That’s the type of woman whose word you are taking as sole source for your article, John. Now, I’m sure that there was friction, and the fact that Sturgis has been fired makes clear that he had problems. I’m also sure that such a woman would drive her fellows to dislike her. The 101st refuses to let her back into the country, due to her behaviors, not anyone else’s. People often cry of persecution when they have burned their own bridges. That makes it uninteresting to me.

    Now, would you like to address your role in OPSEC violations? Would you like to address your role in disclosing the location and intent of ongoing operations? You endanger lives when you do that, John, and folks like me don’t appreciate that, and it’s a dirtbag thing to do to endanger lives for your agenda.

    After reading your praise of Putin and seeing that you’ve written over a dozen articles about your favorite subject, slamming the HTS, (which I am not invested in,) I don’t take you very seriously as a commenter of any of this, so forgive me if you raise a cry and hue that goes right past me, whether there is merit to it or not. You are like background noise to me, John; a babbling brook. You make noise all the time, often the same noise, and you never stop.

    What you fail to realize about me is that motivated me to “pitchfork” Pelton had nothing to do with HTS. If he had written such a pack of lies about a water purification unit I would have done the same thing.

    Max started to get a clue when he read my piece detailing the other information surrounding Pelton’s embed, but he has since let his emotions and his dislike for HTS to side against milbloggers. I’m not surprised because of his initial glee at the publication of Pelton’s yellow article. It’s not about HTS, gentlemen, it’s about Pelton’s lies the reason for which may be personal gain.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      It’s not about emotions Old Blue, and you seem to have barrel load of them yourself anyway. It’s that I failed to be convinced by your argument, because ultimately it lacked the necessary evidence to achieve fruition, and failed to ask itself some logical questions.

      You seem to have a thing with defending HTS at all costs — you may object, but that is your actual track record for now.

      In particular, your approach is to shoot the messenger. That approach always kills the credibility of the criticism. Above, you raise all sorts of actually irrelevant little issues, missing the target once again.

      This is why I disagree.

      1. Old Blue

        Max, I shoot the messenger because to this point I have not run into a messenger on this that doesn’t deserve it. Every single one of you to this point is driven by an impure motive.

        I have yet to see anyone in this whole bunch who offers anything to improve the situation. You all paint sordid and confusing pictures, some seek profit somehow and for some it takes on the proportions of personal vendetta. Some appear to be driven by political ideology. None offer a solution. My problem is not with your criticism of HTS; it’s with your singleminded obsession with it.

        Get over it. Bring a solution to the table that actually contributes to what the military needs; something sustainable and productive, or as we say in the Army, have a nice hot cup of shut the fuck up.

        Matt Armstrong says it much more nicely below. I never read you before now, and I’m starting to lose interest in reading you any further. If you want to know why the silence… it’s because you, Pelton and Stanton are starting to bore the living hell out of me.

      2. Maximilian Forte

        For someone filled with purity and no emotion, you have a hell of a way with offensive words. That’s alright with me, I enjoy seeing your mask crack and fall off in shards.

        There is nothing mysterious about my solutions, they saturate everything I write: kill HTS, and end all ties of the military with academia.

        So your charge is again a false one. You won’t like my solution of course…and you know why? You have impure motives.

      3. Old Blue

        If giving my children some hope of living in a land where liberty is still possible is impure, then I’ll cop to it.

        The sheep never like the sheepdog. You, Max, are a sheep. You’re a haughty sheep, a noisy sheep, an arrogantly bleating sheep; and you do not like the sheepdog. I am a sheepdog, Max, and it’s people like you who would, in your self-righteous blither, steal my children’s liberty. Your free speech is furnished courtesy of the sweat that soaked my body armor in Afghanistan. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to appreciate it, you don’t have to earn it; but you are welcome just the same.

        I’m done with you, Max. You had me thinking that you were capable of more than just being a ranting political mouthpiece, but you aren’t. I pity your students, and hope that they grow beyond your childish thoughts. Continue to babble on about Afghanistan as if you know about it, Max, but I have spent a lot of time there and have met and talked with and eaten with the people there. I have looked into their eyes and have had my hand held in friendship by Afghans who see a future that does not include those whom you tacitly support in the name of your “science.”

        I’ll thank you not to visit my site anymore, and I will not visit yours. We are at odds with each other, for I most thoroughly disagree with you and do not find it in myself to continue discourse with you, nor to welcome yours on my site. Your comments that are there will still sit where they are, of course.

  22. Matt Armstrong

    I agree with what both ZenPundit and RYP said, both of whom I know, about defining a “milblogger” and understanding the focus of a particular blog, so I won’t repeat that.

    I do want to point out that you (and seemingly John) apply a similar zealousness that you accuse others of having. Saying there’s a “new article” without sources leaves us no chance to check the accusations, which Mark (ZenPundit, who I’ve known for several years) mentioned. RYP, who I know in real life going back several years (and hold a great deal of respect for), is right that I apply an academic standard to my blogging because, well, my reputation depends on it. Throwing unsubstantiated accusations are a reflection of character and, if done more than once as your partial mea culpa suggests is the case here, indicative of a pattern rather than the occasional accidental over-reach.

    I know in real life the primary authors behind Abu Muqawama (Exum and “Charlie”) and the men who run the Small Wars “empire” (Council/Journal/etc), all of whom are admirable people of absolutely moral character. You should, as I believe Mark suggested, or possibly it was Marc Tyrrell (who I have known for a couple of years now, but just over email and the phone), that you should not assume we read your blog, because, frankly, we do not. This is for two reasons: first is the ranting that takes place (see point above) and second is we simply do not focus on HTS as much as you do, and you have your well known reasons for focusing on the program. The first means you’re caught in a catch-22: we won’t know about or respond to your queries (I only learned about this post through Mark S) and the second is we may not have an answer to your question or be prepared to discuss or debate an issue of your interest. On the larger issue of a position on HTS, I am fairly sure you can find commentary critical of HTS at Small Wars and Abu Muqawama, but I will certainly not take the time to find those sources as similar sourcing has not taken place in the accusations.

    Did I post RYP’s article on Human Terrain? I think I did (I’m not taking the time to look it up). In fact, I hope I did. Why? Because RYP’s a friend. I trust him and I support him. Does that mean I know the details? Not necessarily. You post on things you don’t know the details about. See the above about “milbloggers”, which Abu Muqawama certainly isn’t and yet hasn’t been struck out like me (thank you) and ZenPundit.

    I deal with the world of perceptions. The perception you created with your heated post does not invite an informed response. The second and third paragraphs of this post have fifteen sentences between them and all but one is a question. Do you really expect to elicit an informed discourse this way? I doubt it and I doubt you really want an informed debate over the facts, which the comment thread above reinforces.

    Matt Armstrong

    1. Maximilian Forte

      “Do you really expect to elicit an informed discourse this way? I doubt it…”

      You seem to be doubting your very eyes then Matt, as it has happened. Part of that informed discourse is about the question of what constitutes a milblogger. I believe in putting ideas into practice, so as to learn how they may be wrong, partially correct, or very correct. Pardon me for my openness and transparency — I will never get an academic promotion for blogging anyway, so I might as well be as free and experimental as possible, and speak honestly and plainly when I think something is wrong. I gather all of this talk of freedom and honesty strikes you as distasteful.

      Also, I never advanced this blog as a “scholarly” blog…in fact, I explicitly state the opposite in “about the blogger.” If someone comes here with those expectations, then they have the wrong expectations, that’s all. I try to correct them in advance, but apparently some people refuse to read. As for scholars who think they have scholarly blogs — check yourself: most of academia will automatically dismiss the value of anything that is blogged.

      You say you don’t read my blog, and that’s alright, but I still see a link from your blog to mine, which is how I first discovered you when you wrote about a “rant” of mine. That’s evidence too, is it not? It is evidence that happens to contradict you. You see how scholarly we can be here?

      Also, I count 11 questions altogether in this post. Of course, they are all variations on one single question: why the silence on this issue?

      Checking sources? You want the names of people who request anonymity? You see, this may not be a scholarly blog, but we sometimes do scholarly things, like respecting ethics. Don’t you?

      Anyway, thanks for visiting and commenting, even if it meant ceasing to ignore me. Of course, to ignore something means you have to be consciously aware of it — but that is a matter for the more scholarly blogs to discuss, since I only rant (lol).

      1. Maximilian Forte

        I suppose a shorter way of saying all this would have been:

        If I were doing what Matt Armstrong thought was right, then it probably would have been the wrong thing to do.

        This blog, I am happy to say, has allowed me to make the right enemies, and to meet some valuable new friends and contacts.

        If I say anything more, then it will sound *really* defensive, when apparently my real mission is to be as offensive as possible.


      2. Maximilian Forte

        I missed the irony: Matt Armstrong says he uses his blog for “academic” purposes, but I failed to note that he actually does not work for any academic institution.

        While correcting people on their use of a novel Internet label, “milblogger,” it would be wise to respect the established meaning of older terms, such as “academic.”

        At the very least, the use of the term is misleading here, because it can suggest that Armstrong is an academic, which he is not. He does not work for any academic institution. The irony is that I do, and I have no hang ups about “blogging academically.”

    2. R.A.


      It sounds like you have something to say on the matter, but you basically wrote this whole response to explain why you aren’t going to say anything. I don’t get it. You’re here now, why not add your views. If you’re into informed discourse, why not contribute???

      1. Maximilian Forte

        Matt was too busy throwing mud, as an apparent protest against mud throwing. He mixed up the definition of “milblogger” (as if there can be only one), with the story by John Stanton, and said my “mea culpa” indicates a pattern of casting allegations — so he has a problem staying focused.

        These are all essentially war bloggers: strategy, public diplomacy (yikes! Joe Stalin is blushing at that one), defense, counterinsurgency, active duty, retired, policy analyst…all centered on warfare and U.S. dominance.

        The question remains a valid one: why do they ignore sexual assaults and sexual harassment in the military, as if they never heard of it before?

  23. Drew

    I believe the phrase “Cripple Fight” applies to all the above.

    Except for possibly the comments by ZenPunit and Marc.

    Max, the reason you get “targeted” is because you try to be.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Then I believe the phrase may be, “attention whore,” but you were kinder. Well of course I write to get attention, getting targeted can however mean many different things, and I would not necessarily agree that I want to be subject to all of those different varieties of targeting.

      1. Maximilian Forte

        Sorry, there is another reason I get “targeted” by some, and that is because I basically disagree with the pro-war propaganda and I am very forthright about it. It is also a policy adopted by the military to send out counter-bloggers to “correct misrepresentations.” I have traced IPs to Afghanistan and Fort Leavenworth. So to make it all seem as one-sided as you do, Drew, is to misrepresent what you ought to know about, and what I suspect you do know, but wish to cover.

        The lead up to the news of Paula Loyd’s death, what alerted me to the fact that it would become news, was the sudden appearance on this blog of two writers, again with IPs traced to source as above, that suddenly had a “hankerin'” to talk about Loyd…not solicited, not provoked. Fix that with your interpretation Drew, then we can converse productively.

      2. Bob Bateman


        I think you’re ascribing too much competence to the military with that ascertion about “counter bloggers.” That’s conspiracy theory stuff. Fact of the matter is that there is no central (or even decentralized) group or policy for “counter-blogging.” What brings people to your site, from Afghanistan, from Leavenworth, from DC and Ft. Hood, and dozens of other sites with military people assigned there…is the fact that you’re talking about something military people are interested in.

        So, for example, if you were writing about military history of the interwar period (1918-1939), I’d see that pop up on my google-alerts, and I’d wander over here. If you were writing about open ocean sailing (looking for crew), I would also have seen that in a different alert, and wandered over here. If you were writing about windsurfing, or acrylic painting, or travelling in NE France…all of which are among my interests, I’d have wandered over here.

        So you wrote about milbloggers (and I’ve explained some on that point), and you wrote about Iraq/Afghanistan, and people who are interested in those things are…well, people in the military and people in Iraq/Afghanistan.

        (I know this is a delayed one, but I just spotted this.) (I don’t know if your position has changed in the past couple of weeks.)

        Bob Bateman

  24. RYP

    Ah milbloggers…if I may…

    There are educated intense people with a military agenda who blog on the military and current conflicts. These range from Tom Barnett to Small Wars to some of the esoteric stuff floating out of FMSO. Then there are people who embed (sign a document) who write about what they see and hear, then there are the current and former military who blog about just about anything (we are shifting ever rightward and into the fantasy zone here) and then ex military who really don’t have a lot to say…but type a lot and then on the other side of the universe where many hang their intellectual clothesline are the right wing hate vendors the Malkins, Coulters and Limbaughs who don’t have much ground experience but provide the rolling papers for the milbloggers dope..

    Its easy to peg these folks because they follow very set patterns. What is fascinating to me is how their output slides from fact to fiction to fantasy without any legal or ethical speedbumps.

    When investigating the military its important to understand the line between covert, clandestine, sensitive and open source. The HTS program is in every way an “Open source” (No restrictions on dissemination), “proof of concept” army concept therefore it should invite scrutiny, observation and critique for improvement and decision making by taxpayers.

    I have been involved in a number of open and classified training programs and I have never seen the level of paranoia and RUMINT generated by the HTS. For example I have taken part in SF training and sensitive AHATS training and have always welcomed critiques (there is a form handed out at the end of the class)

    I suppose my question is why is the open source human terrain program immune from observers, critiques and oversight? I think its because the gap between concept and execution is too far. But I also think that a solid, non kinetic program with absolute transparency might encourage academics to join. Right now the bizarre way the program handles crtiics smells like a mutation of CORDS and the old MACV-SOG/ Phoenix (even thought I do not believe it to be so)

  25. Pingback: The Human Terrain System: Undermining the Military, Antagonizing Academics « OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY

  26. WOTN

    I see in short order, my earlier comment on the original article has resulted in looking to see who the newcomer is.

    Let’s correct a few things, shall we? Milbloggers are not sanctioned nor paid by any part of the government. They are not directed by the government or any part of it. In fact, milbloggers were frowned upon by the DoD when it all started. The Right to Free Speech won out for those dedicated to defending the Constitution, with their lives if necessary.

    Regardless of political position or party, milbloggers who actively serve are required to clearly state their positions are their own and not representative of the US Government or any Agency. Those who have completed their service are encouraged to do so as well.

    Milbloggers come from all sides of the debate and from both sides of the aisle. The leadership of the IAVA and IVAW with their myriad of bloggers actively campaigned for Obama, including at least one Active Duty NCO.

    But Military Veterans, particularly those who have served in combat, are more often conservative than liberal. They have seen the realities of the world, of the cost of freedom and committed to it. They were not only lucky enough to be born to the right of free speech, they have earned it.

    And as Pelton recently learned, they don’t bow down to threats and bullies.

    Critical thought? I came here expecting to find it. It is not here. This is nothing more than backslapping by others of the same political viewpoint for their personal attacks, rumor and innuendo, backed up by unconfirmed gossip.

    Military Bloggers stick to two things: Things they KNOW and the politics that effect that. They disagree politiely and respectfully with each other and with those that engage in mature discussion.

    So, if you would care to address your subject of expertise, maturely, rather than attack whole segments of the Nation that keep you safe, I will be glad to hear how the anthropological world can assist in combatting terrorism and bringing peace to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East, as well as Africa and other war torn parts of the world.

    But, if you prefer in this vein of pre-conceived notions that hamper your ability to maturely contribute to bringing peace and security to the world or at least some small part of it, then I find little use in returning to your rants.

    Let me know if you decide to enjoin a mature a debate on the issues rather than continue in your rants. But when you begin to fire verbal rounds at the Troops, you can expect to receive return fire. And you may find that Kerry was wrong about the education level of Our Troops.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Well that was a rant if I ever saw one. What is it with you milbloggers and hypocrisy? Why do you make arguments and demands and issue instructions, according to which you yourselves fail to live by?

      “I will be glad to hear how the anthropological world can assist in combatting terrorism and bringing peace to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East, as well as Africa and other war torn parts of the world.”

      Um, NO, you would not want to hear it. You have been ignoring it thus far, except for the tiny few who have joined the military ranks, and thus suit your preconceived notions.

      You are the same person who called me a Taliban propagandist, so please don’t lecture anyone about preconceptions, ideological blindness, or ranting. You are not credible. But yes, you are still entertaining.

      1. Maximilian Forte

        P.S.: There is no critical thought here. We are all like the cheerleading milbloggers who want war, more war, and ways to celebrate war while pretending to be objective — it’s like watching a drunk playing at being sober to get the car keys back. Like a drunk driver, Cannoneer who writes for WTFN, your comment slams into everything along the road. If this is how you targeted, no wonder you people needed to invent the obscenity you call “collateral damage.”

  27. Maximilian Forte

    Always the doublethink from people such as Old Blue, they make a career of it:

    “You, Max, are a sheep. You’re a haughty sheep, a noisy sheep, an arrogantly bleating sheep; and you do not like the sheepdog. I am a sheepdog, Max, and it’s people like you who would, in your self-righteous blither, steal my children’s liberty. Your free speech is furnished courtesy of the sweat that soaked my body armor in Afghanistan. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to appreciate it, you don’t have to earn it; but you are welcome just the same.”

    Well Old Blue, you are at least partly right: I do wear sheep’s clothing.

    But wait, what’s this about “self-righteous blither” when you then write about how I owe you my free speech? And then you describe yourself as some war hero? Listen, do me a big favour: don’t wave your sweaty body armour around here anymore. My free speech is mine, courtesy of myself alone — try to take it away, and see what happens, and see who really defends it.

    As for my students, don’t pity them, ask them what they think. I did not win two teaching awards, nominated by students, and at least one judged by students, by being the kind of lowlife you hope and pray that I am.

    And, just for once, try to write like someone who has an honest bone in his body, and not just a bone in his head.

  28. MadAxe


    LooooooooL. This is too good Max, you can expect another of my “art works” to come (as you call them). I do some not too bad stenciling across the city so I might put this in some dark corner or heaven and photograph it for you. I’m just nothing like Banksy when it comes to animal figures though.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Did you mean “some dark corner OF heaven” or is “heaven” a separate place in your sentence, in which case, what do you mean by painting something in heaven? It sounds great, but don’t you fear being met with an “access denied” sign? :)

      1. MadAxe

        You almost hit the nail on the head with “access denied”. Heaven is a place that’s hard to reach, like the underside of a bridge 300 ft above ground, it makes it tough for any cleanup crews to reach the tag and buff it.

  29. John Stanton

    In Re:O-Blue

    Ill be sure to consult my copy of the DSS NISPOM before writing anything again.

    I actually find OB’s writings funny as they remind me of some of the dialogue in Dr. Strangelove. I think it is one of the best movies Kubrick ever made and it will remain relevant for a long time to come. General Ripper, General Turgeson, Bat Guano are classic. Who hasn’t run into those personality-types at one time or another.

    I can hear OB somewhere in the distance chomping on a cigar and muttering: “We can’t let the commies contaminate our precious bodily fluids.” Or, “Mr. President, we can’t afford to allow a mine-shaft gap.” Or, Bat Guano saying, “You deviated prevert.”

  30. Marc Tyrrell

    This really has moved well beyond the topic line. At the same time, I think it has illustrated some of the key difficulties of talking in the area: mutually incompatible semantics. The blog – comment format does not really allow for the time length necessary to overcome this problem nor is it easy to get a feel for the other writers that would encourage others to sit back and go: what do you actually mean by that?

  31. RYP

    Max it appears that the best the milbloggers can muster to the latest controversy inside the HTS is a louder rattling their tin cup. I doing so their rusty collection of truisms and feigned indigence can raise a hue and cry…but it doesn’t. Unless they are fed, trained and leashed together it just sounds like a 12 year old lipsyncing a Patton speech in front of the bathroom mirror.

    They are not protecting my rights, they are not protecting the rights of female employees, they are not defending Dr Sturgis or even daring to look in the cess pools that good intentions and bad execution create.

    We are the enemy because we encourage critical examination, proof and like myself go to see for myself and provide an unaligned viewpoint.

    But best of all Max you have made them hollower and shriller because you called them out. And all milbloggers like Old Blue did was threaten to break up with you and take his angryball somewhere else to play. :)))

  32. Maximilian Forte

    Don’t worry Marc, this is about the extent of the “depth” of Old Blue. I have been following him around and he grinds away in the same manner everywhere: this one’s a socialist, that one’s a traitor, you are all liars, I have evidence (but then not really), I’m a soldier you should kiss my boots, etc.

    I am not sure that I would dress up “you owe me your free speech” as “mutually incompatible semantics,” unless that is the kind of code phrase you use for referring to propaganda, blackmail, etc., the kind of militarization of consciousness, morality, and politics that everyone should dread.

    1. Marc Tyrrell

      Hi Max,

      No, I don’t mean it as a code phrase, I mean it quite literally in the Korzybskian sense where the semantic networks operate in radically different forms. I like to use the Batesonian Map-Territory model, and call it two maps of the “same” territory that emphasize totally different aspects.

      Max, you know as well as I do that cultures “protect” themselves. In the Korzybskian model, that’s done by embedding emotional connotations on to symbols (his term was a “semantic reaction”). It is often “unthinking”, but it is reflective of a boundary within the map. So, when Old Blue is talking about “you owe me your free speach”, he is tagging into a semantic network – a map – that takes for granted that “free speech” has to be protected, and that, ultimately, the only way to protect it is to stand on guard against external enemies who will attempt to destroy it. That’s a meme implicit in the Anglo culture complex (it goes back to our right of revolt codified in the Magna Carta, but existing earlier), and explicit in the charter documents of the US.

  33. RYP


    I have no friggin idea what academic vaseline you are using but it comes down to injecting highly educated, critical thinkers who develop flexible morally adept (in terms of Bad guy/good guy) professionals into a military system that encourages rigid thinking, polarized accounting (that bad vs good again) careerists. Then they rotate a parade of ever rotating military people against fixed position free thinking academics like a weedwacker. This leads to constant cultural wear and tear (in addition to the stress of civilians being deployed in combat zones for long terms) and ultimately (my theory) the enemy being discovered in their own midst. There has been a constant manufacturing and occurring of individual personal disasters and very little on the actual success or failure of the program. I am sure there is a name for this phenomena when an organization begins to feed on itself and recreates its outward view, inward.

    Just the idea of psyops and rumor being used to attack critics show bizarre behavior and perhaps an equal dose of psyops and rumor being used inside the HTS. Note how Dudley whatever points to bizarre stripper photos, obtuse threats (mata la vaca) and doing her jobs (being stuck in a hostile area) as real death threats.

    In other words the HTS system has created its own good guy/bad guy paranoid nightmare fear terrain within its own program.

    I strongly suggest that interested folks watch the Adam Curtis docos about how institutionalized thinking by academics within rigid organizations leads to bizarre developments.

  34. Susan Katz Keating

    A couple of points need to be made, here.

    I never have taken seriously the commentary of Canadians directed at American culture, principles, founding documents and the like. Thanks to an accident of geography, your country has enjoyed a peaceful, protected, and frankly spoiled existence, courtesy of your neighbors to the south.

    Where on Earth did anyone get the notion that milbloggers support war? Yes, they chronicle things military, but I do not know a single milblogger who advocates war for the sake of war.

    If you think free speech does not need to be protected, please…. educate yourselves. Spend some time as a journalist in Russia. Masquerade as a female in Saudi Arabia.

    As for the negative attitudes expressed here towards milbloggers in general: you behave as if you feel threatened. You guys have grabbed the nearest thick branches and have waved them, mainly at Old Blue, whilst hooting and thumping your (waxed, Canadian) chests. But please: Don’t be frightened. Milbloggers are not out to sieze your territory. In fact, they do much to improve the landscape. ; )

    1. Marc Tyrrell

      “I never have taken seriously the commentary of Canadians directed at American culture, principles, founding documents and the like.”

      Many that attitude of yours will give you an insight into why many people in other nations disregard the US’ attitude on their situations. Ah to hold such an attitude – treasure it!

      “Thanks to an accident of geography, your country has enjoyed a peaceful, protected, and frankly spoiled existence, courtesy of your neighbors to the south.”

      Did this “accident of geography” take place before or after World War II? I would certainly assume that you aren’t talking about the War of 1812 or World war I.

      1. Susan Katz Keating

        Marc, you are right. Canada did take part in World Wars I and II and, uh, some other conflicts. But look at the posturing from Canadian critics. They essentially stick out their tongues, wag their fingers, and shout that the Americans are brutes, all the while knowing that no foreign country has molested Canada because it is so thoroughly protected by the U.S. It’s an easy posture, a cheap posture, and at core a dishonest one.

      2. Marc Tyrrell

        Hi Susan,

        I’ll certainly grant that Canada has been “protected” (we could quibble about the exact term) by the US since, say, 1950 or so (e.g. NATO, NORAD, etc.). The posture of many of the critics is, I agree, an easy one that is, in some cases at least “dishonest”. At the same time, there are a lot of Canadians who actually didn’t want to be “protected” by the US (we didn’t have much choice in the matter), are quite actively interested in examining what is happening and who have offered constructive criticism at political, strategic, operational and tactical levels which is often quite sharp and, sometimes, adopted.

  35. fnord

    Hmm, got over here from Abu Muqawama, wich btw has responded to your post. And, as a card carrying extremeleft black-block kind of academic, I am a bit surprised by your conclusion:

    “here is nothing mysterious about my solutions, they saturate everything I write: kill HTS, and end all ties of the military with academia.”

    WTF? Do you mean that academia and real life should never meet? That the presence of people who actually, you know, know the language and the culture may not help out in getting less people killed? What are your arguments? Why?

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I don’t think you can honestly claim to be left of anything, or you would not have been surprised by my conclusion. Before we can continue any further: please define what you mean by “real life”. My arguments are spread out everywhere on this site.

  36. Bob Bateman

    Well a few things. First I’ll confront Pelton’s assertion: “I have no friggin idea what academic vaseline you are using but it comes down to injecting highly educated, critical thinkers who develop flexible morally adept (in terms of Bad guy/good guy) professionals into a military system that encourages rigid thinking, polarized accounting (that bad vs good again) careerists. Then they rotate a parade of ever rotating military people against fixed position free thinking academics like a weedwacker.”

    Now Robert, I really gotta say, your inclination to rigid stereotypes is at least consistent. It’s only ironic when you say something like this.

    But following up on the point that fnord makes, questioning the intent, ““here is nothing mysterious about my solutions, they saturate everything I write: kill HTS, and end all ties of the military with academia.”

    OK, so now what are you going to do about somebody like me? I write books, I write as a guest blogger for Media Matters for America, and now The Nation, I used to have a column at the University of Missouri-sponsored Committee for Concerned Journalists website, I also used to teach at George Mason, though now I teach at Georgetown University (history in both cases), and I write book reviews for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, etc. By most measures that would place me squarely in the sites for CPAC marksmen…right? In other words, a member of academia.

    And yet…I am also a professional infantry officer. Airborne. Ranger. All the required boy-scout badges and doo-dads, a complete member of the military. I guess I’m just one of those, how was it Pelton described us? Ah yes, members of a “military system that encourages rigid thinking, polarized accounting (that bad vs good again) careerists.”

    Yes…because in all my time in academe I’ve never seen members of an academic department act rigid, polarized, or careerist. Spot on there mate.

    What’re you proposing to do, shoot me and the hundreds of others within academe with such backgrounds?

    Seriously, I’m not even particularly unique. The Army alone has thousands of officers (and a few enlisted) with Masters and PhDs, and academia is actually filled with thousands more veterans (who got their degrees during their military careers). Roughly 500 more MAs and PhDs per year join the ranks of officers as a matter of fact, many of whom teach at West Point for starters, and then like me, branch out.

    Do you suggest eradicating us in some sort of Anthropology-led pogrom?

    Inquiring minds want to know friend.


    1. fnord

      Bateman: To be contrary, from the old anarcho-euro stance: You guys got to relate to the UN and the potentialities of walking that long road. Since you quote me. Social democracy still stands as a rational model in a sea of irrationality for a lot of my academic friends. I would suggest that the model also offers a way out of the soldier/warrior problem. We have to realign the whole concept of military action in a globalized world in order to do it correctly. The concepts of all the muslim mafia vs. the western mafia w the russians and the chinese thrown into the mix unfortunately exists as a dark horse in any COIN discusssion. Who of our bad guys makes money out of the continuing conflict? Etc.

      The basic academic urge is for equilibrium of forces, so that noone gets hurt. If you are going to engage those forces, you have to remember that matrice wich all those people have to relate to, just as the military guys have the kinetic lens on in their efforts at analysis.

      Except for that. you are right.

    2. Maximilian Forte

      [I have since decided to revise this comment regarding Bob Bateman, who works at the Pentagon, and is a mere adjunct who uses his temporary and part-time academic employment as cover. He writes above, disingenuously: “In other words, a member of academia.” No, not a member, but rather an interloper. He overstates his public profile: He was not guest blogger at either The Nation or Media Matters, but rather a poster of letters on Eric Alterman’s pages — see for example:

      I decided that showing generosity is mistake that I made here, especially when such generosity is not reciprocated. One should remember to never throw pearls before imperialist military swine, and that is precisely who this pig, Bateman, is.]

  37. RYP


    I think Connable and I come to the exact same conclusion. That the military is entirely capable of performing the Human Terrain Function and that “academic” and “military officer” do not need to be separated by a comma.

    That does not mean that academics (many of whom have military experience) cannot work with the military BUT reality rears its ugly head when you essentially strip mine the top tier of U.S. cleared Afghan experts, PhD level officers and culturally gentile academics.

    The military not only has its degreed experts but it has an impressive array of seasoned officers who have field experience. The Marine ETTs at Morales Frazier are a perfect example of culturally comfortable, doctrinally expert, pragmatic soldiers who do the mission.

    But what I sense in the milbloggers I seem to be run into on the internet is a constant need to find or invent offense on behalf of someone or something they know nothing about.

    Looking to create conflict is the exact opposite of what the military does these days. My comments (and others) are the results of self generated hejira of exploration, not some pre scripted agenda launched from a keyboard. I clearly point out that there is spectrum of military related bloggers and some are to taken very seriously and some need a responsible adult in the room.

    As one of my readers said: “Never wrestle with pigs because you will get shit on yourself and keep in mind…the pigs like rolling in shit whether you are wrestling with them or not”

    I might have made the mistake of trying to hose the shit off some of the pigs, but I ain’t gonna dive in there are wrestle with them :))

  38. RYP


    OMFG… you are hating on Canucks?? One word…sounds like “Dieppe” While American GI conscripts were protesting the war, my farm boy volunteer relatives were killing the Bosch in Europe…and being killed by the thousands.

    Didn’t anybody tell you that Canadians are there for you in Afghanistan?

    Don’t be a hater on your neighbor (or neighbour) to the north… or they will stop running your entertainment industry and piss in your water.

    Man…next thing I expect to see is you hitting kittens with shovels!

  39. Susan Katz Keating

    Okay, okay… I will now pull on the snow boots, forge out through the drifts surrounding my snug Virginny home, and will search for the nearest Canadian. I will hug him. I will thank him for his country’s service in Afghanistan. I will beg him to refrain from soiling the water table. I will not attack his kitten with my pitchfork.

    Happy now?

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Well, I am, but not because I am a Canadian nationalist, but because you sound more peaceful now. I was not responding since it was baiting me to respond as a Canadian nationalist, which I am not. Yes, I am one of those evil, self-hating Canadians.

      1. Susan Katz Keating

        Max, now that you have shown me this glimpse of your tortured soul, I am feeling even more peaceful. I am heading out now to rescue a Canadian kitten from the local INS animal shelter. Registered name: Maxillary Fortitude. House name: RYPley.

  40. John Stanton

    Max–Gotta say this re: RYP. Something is amiss here.

    Uhhh, hats off to those who are now experts on HTS!

    I wish I’d seen/talked with you all nine months or so ago when this all started.

    The Grand Brain in this post who has been everywhere and mimicked the US military and academia in practice breathes air I can never hope to. “I did this”, “I agree”, ” I was here and there.” Most of u can’t Slog over to this and that hot zone.

    The smell of arrogance exudes

    There are some people who will agree and side with anyone to secure an interest.

    And I’m saying, RYP, how can you be Fondacaro’s biggest defender one day (Steve is doing everything in budget as best he can) and then hop over to Maj. Connable saying “we are in agreement”.

    I tried to extend an olive branch to you but it is clear to me that you feel above and beyond most of us and, I’m guessing, the people in places “you meet and get into that no one else can.”

    You call me on saying that DC Beltway types, not HTS people, feel you are an intel asset. Yet you jog around blogs like this flaunting your training with the military as if you really, really want to be one of them: “I have been involved in a number of open and classified training programs…For example I have taken part in SF training and sensitive AHATS training and have always welcomed critiques (there is a form handed out at the end of the class).” Is that form classified? Who are you to welcome a critique from them? And why do you feel the need to tel us all that you welcome their assessment of you?

    You are the one who seems to want to make sure we all know about your insider status. Why tell us about training with SOF and open/closed military programs.

    You sink yourself.

    I really tried to believe you were on the level.

    An effort. w/the help of mil/intel input, non HTS, to sort out the confusion surrounding you seems appropriate.



  41. RYP


    Your confusion about me only comes from a lack of research. I have written five 900- 1000 page books, done thousands of interviews, written another half dozen books and run a very open and chatty website since 1996. You don’t need to reinvent me in some dark and sinister light.

    Why can’t I like Steve, but criticize his program? Why can’t I have friends in the military and friends among jihadi and insurgent groups? Why can’t I form an independent opinion free from dogma, political correctness and prevailing fashions?

    I don’t like you or dislike you, I have never met you. I have some questions about the articles you write but I sure you have many about mine. Its not an act of aggression to both admire and question someones activities.

    You say that unnamed sources say I am an “intel asset”. Not true. A laughable idea if you knew my background. I suggest you question them for facts rather than opinions. I have done nothing Classifed and I do nothing other work towards greater knowledge, safety and understanding. If that is a crime…then I am guilty.

    But your deep suspicion of my motives is bizarre. Its OK to be an engaged private citizen and push back against the darkness.

  42. Anne

    I’m just really confused as to the hostility that some people in the US have toward Canada. Yes, our government did not vote to engage in the War in Iraq, however, our government does not speak for individual Canadians and the hostility seems to include all of us globally. Just as during the Vietnam War which Canada also voted not to engage in, there are Canadians serving in United States Forces in Iraq, some children of Canadian Vietnam War veterans (who crossed the border to serve with US Forces).

    It’s a little “old” to have this continued pjeorate comments about Canada made, especially when “again” our troops are fighting side by side, as they have in previous wars/police actions, now in Afghanistan.

    I can’t help but think that our troops (note, I say “our” troops) read all this hostility – now isn’t that a great message from the Home Front.

    My father was a Canadian (as I am), enlisted with the British Army in 1939, volunteered for Burma (Chindits) where he served as Senior Medical Officer. Ask yourselves who evacluated the British wounded? The Air Commandos – USAF.

    I don’t recall them ever making disparaging comments about each other at all.

    Then there the tradition of the Devil’s Brigade:'s_Brigade

    Note the patch.

    What happened to that tradition of standing united? Our troops deserve better than this kind of thing gives them.

    1. Marc Tyrrell


      Not that I disagree with most of what you wrote. but I was raised, in part, on a question that my Grandmother used to ask – “Why were the Americans called Doughboys?” If you know the answer to that, then you should also know that the disparagement is generally aimed at governments rather than individuals; but it still bites (wry grin).

      Should we stand united with the US? Personally, I have to say “No”. We are allies, brothers, and friends, but we are not lackies of the US. We share many of the same values, and that’s not surprising since we share a lot of other things. But uncritical support? No. My ancestors and, I assume yours, fought to be free of them and we have built our own society and culture that is different from them.

      1. Anne

        Hi Mark,

        I don’t understand any of it, I’ve just never felt personally like “anyone’s” lackie, government or otherwise I have just as much criticism against government on all sides of the border. Like the old saying goes.. there’s something about politics that makes people dishonest – at “some” point, they have to compromise values and ethics.

        Actually Canada’s condcut with respec to the War in Vietnam is a case in point. We did not (the government did not) go into the Vietnam War. However, we made billions in Pentagon contracts and ‘all” the Agent Orange, blue, purple.. “black” was made here – and tested here. All of this has been described as.. doing.. business and not related.

        It is to me.

        My only concern, given that iatrogenic duplicity – of which both sides are guilty of engaging in – is supporting the troops that are serving In Harm’s Way andhaving to navigating within the political system. God Bless Them.


      2. Marc Tyrrell

        Hi Anne,

        The old “power tends to corrupt” model from de Tocqueville? From my own experiences in politics (quite a while back, I’ll admit), I could always use people like Stanley Knowles as a touchstone for ethics, even while I disagreed with his politics. You’re quite right about how we have interacted with the US system, and we still see the ties today.

        The reason I used the term “lackie” gets back to the assumption that many people (both American and Canadian) seem to have that Canada will automatically follow the US lead on anything. What really gets my goat is when those same people get their knickers in a twist when we don’t (wry grin).

        And, BTW, unlike Max, I am a Canadian nationalist (GRIN).

  43. John Stanton

    You seem to think that intelligence and /or exploring the netherworld of this planet is sinister and dark. It is not. Your career to this point shows that to be true. Explorers are wonderful.

    All I’m saying is that you can’t get to some of the places you go without US Gov knowledge and assistance.

    You get me wrong here and you have a tick to trail off in you comments to Heart of Darkeness sort of stuff. There is no darkness in this world, just madness and the myth/ideology that supports madness. That is easily found everywhere in small and large places to include the USA.

    I’ve read some of your work. It’s good stuff.

    What I am saying is that you have a close relationship with the people in US Gov that help you get where you need to go. Perhaps not always, but part of the time.

    What’s the big deal? You train with them. What for? You embed with them? So what?

    You are an explorer/adventure writer and a damn good one. Why are you not on cable as Survirorman or the Brit who does a similar show?

  44. RYP


    I think I mentioned earlier that my family came to America in 1627 but I was the first generation to have to immigrate back because my grandparents moved back and forth without hindrance. Canadians are unfailing polite, durable and loyal. They find Americans bellicose and colorful but their is much less contrast than lets say the Dutch and Belgians :))

    I am both and you are dead on. Americans and Canadians are blood brothers not enemies or even rivals.


    There is plenty of darkness in this world. Have you ever seen a man cut the heart out of a living prisoner… and then eat it? Have you seen what fuel air bombs or an AC130U does to humans? Have you ever been hit by a SCUD missile, kidnapped, hit by a car etc etc?? I could go on…since the sad part of my experience in 36 conflicts is I have seen and experienced far too much violence. But I hope you get my drift. I am about getting past violence into understanding.

    I have close relationships with many people. All of them motivated to help me get the truth out. It doesn’t mean you must pigeonhole me or disparage me because I fund and direct my own efforts to do so. Everyone who has met me in person will vouch for my sincerity, integrity and intensity.

    1. Anne


      United Empire Loyalist stock here – from my father’s side of the family. Still have distant relatvies in Mass (Faulkner hospital). – geneology is.. kewel .

      Mother’s side? Irish.. John Philpot Curran descendant.

      I just feel just as much as at home in the US and Canada. and I have always found Americans, when I have to the US (alot), to be amazingly polite, kind, just.. good people whom I have been privileged to meet. I’ve actually found that less in Canada – I hate it when Canadians make awful comments about the US. I had a government staff once say to me (about 4 years) ago, that if I liked the States so much, I should just move there – because of the websites I host. Unbelievable. This was before the War in Afghanistan, I don’t think anyone would say that to me today..

      But they did. Appalling.


      1. Maximilian Forte

        “This was before the War in Afghanistan, I don’t think anyone would say that to me today.”

        You’re wrong! I would!

        Just joking of course — why should you move to the U.S. when Canada is a near perfect replica, and in some cases a storage facility for great Americana such as its recent neo-con era, which we continue to sustain in power here in Canada. In political terms, we now serve as an American memory.

        I only hate when Canadians make awful comments about the U.S. that could easily be made about Canada just as well. Otherwise, let the criticisms roll: you don’t get to dominate the world and also escape criticism, please.

      2. Anne

        I see alot of differences between Canada and the United States. My cousin (US citizen by birth) put it quite well in my mind – years ago, and I never forgot it. She said that the difference between Canada and the US is that The United States is founded on revolution, and Canada is founded on United Empire Loyalists – going “way back”. A very different fundamental mindset. Canada is more staid in ways than the US is. Don’t want to rock the proverbial boat.

        That old story about the Scottish family making a roast of beef Child asks why the end is always hanging off the end of the roasting pan. Mum says: Go ask your grandmother, it’s a family tradition. Child asks grandmother, grandmother says :One year, years ago, I didn’t have a pan big enough for the roast..

        Americans would be more likely to just buy a pan that fit. Canadians would be less inclinced to break with.. tradition. Even when the tradition, in the end, makes no sense. But it does have to with that uniquely “United Empire Loyalist” mindset.

        I don’t see flags on the tombs of our Fields of Honour, unlike the US where they are everywhere. (now, maybe that’s changed, I mostly home confined re disabilities so.. don’t get out much ).

        Canada and the US? very different.

  45. John Stanton

    Max–Last post…Time to move on to other efforts….

    RYP: I’m not sure what the point of telling us about your experiences with violence and death is. Once again, you seem to be coming from on high. I think we all here have seen our share of violence and death, some more than others. And I’m guessing that some here, like me, have gone all the way having employed the tools of conflict to eliminate the other for a noble cause.

    I now recoil from violence, it hurts. You seem to have a fascination with it and continue to seek it out.

    Like I said before, Good for you! Everyone has to pay the bills and everyone has an interest in something.

    We are nothing more than evolutionary creatures trying to survive in a hostile environment. We are one species (with about 28 others living in/on us) among millions around the globe. There is no duality, no god’s, no darkness, no mythic entity watching from space or the center of the earth. It’s just us and our history tells us we are fairly nasty creatures.

    And yet, as Vasily Grossman so eloquently put it in Life and Fate, we engage in simple, often senseless acts of kindness towards each other and the rest of the world: helping an enemy, fixing a branch on a tree. And that’s enough to sometimes cancel out the evolutionary brutishness that we all possess as individuals, groups and nations.

    Best to All!

  46. RYP


    Life experience is a direct shape of motivation and character. There was much discussion about theory, opinion, motivations etc. I have a high school degree. Never went to college. Lived in a car etc etc. I now have the luxury of choosing my areas of interest and study. Currently it is piracy and Horn of Africa. And as you could probably guess I immerse myself in the region and subject until I feel I have a handle on it. So when I write something, film something or talk about something its at my own choosing not because I am paid by someone to do so.

    Why am I tell you this? Because I am trying to put to rest your underlying insinuation/conspiracy theory that I use the govt to get to where I go. It would most likely be the other way around since I have a history of ‘first contacts” or unique ground time with violent groups, non state actors, denied regions and reclusive individuals.

    You read me wrong. It is the prevention of violence that motivates me, ergo my interest in the HTS concept. And ergo my interest in intelligent debate on the topic.

  47. vimothy

    Since you picked up on my comment at Abu Muqawama, I thought I’d come here to say: don’t get your hopes up. The closest I’ve ever come to COIN is shopping in Moss Side.

    However, I was reading Spivak’s Can the Subaltern Speak over the weekend, reflecting on the proclivity for intellectuals to speak on behalf of others. Representation is in many ways problematic. You speaking on behalf of anthropology/anthropologists; you attacking me as a representative of the (US) military, when in fact I have nothing to do with either, and in fact work for a social science research group in Europe. Interesting convergence/synergy?

    Probably not…

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I think you took the message too literally vimothy, not that I blame you for it. You made a remark about anthropologists, so you were representing them, and I responded with a counter-representation. When I say “you” I mean all those who might have hopes for making use of anthropology for war.

      Don’t get “your” hopes up thus travels both ways, and it was intended for a wider readership.

      1. vimothy

        No, what I actually said was this: “If that blog is representative of the wider field, one wonders what possible use anyone could find for anthropology.”

        It is obvious that the writings of one (non-academic) blog do not provide a sufficient basis for drawing conclusions on the wider population. Which is why I didn’t. Of course, your blog may be representative of the wider field — I have no idea — and if it indeed is, one wonders what possible, etc…

      2. Maximilian Forte

        ““If that blog is representative of the wider field…” no problem with that, that was my point of entry, that’s all. I used your words as a springboard, but I certainly did not invent your words. You suggested (did not assert, I agree) that this could be a possibility (you seem open to that)…and I rush in and say, yes please do see it that way, if it works to keep away interests I, and a few other anthropologists, see as malignant.

        We might be making too big of an issue here, perhaps you resent that I took your swipe as a compliment, and now you would like to re-swipe the swipe to its original swipeness? Whatever, let’s keep it light.

  48. Maximilian Forte

    What is very interesting to me is that there were comments posted objecting to how the term “milblogger” was used, and then the criticism stopped there. That’s interesting because it suggests that there was no problem with anything else I said in the post.

    In terms of the kind of cannibalizing of their own that occurs among “patriots,” I note that now that a Marine Major has an article published in Military Review, the “war party” begins to feast on itself — now the article is not respectable, published in MR, but MR was not criticized when it published McFate’s articles. Then the Major has his own interests, which turn out to be the interests of the non-contractor military, nothing he hides in fact, but some are eager to attack him as if he were, let’s say, me.

    See Weird’s Deranged Moor for examples:

  49. Bob Bateman


    I meant to jump in on your mil-blogging thread a while ago, but got involved over in the D-F thing on your other site/page.

    Bottom Line: You lump incredibly disparate sites together with no discrimination or apparent (sorry) understanding. I’ll use the Abu M site as an example. In your commentary earlier about mil-blogs, you take this simplistic black-white view in assuming that all people who were in the military, or who write about military issues, are republicans/conservatives/warmongers/whatever. Yet you were apparently not aware that several of the people who blog at AM are, in fact, liberal democrats who campaigned for Obama…two of them now being appointed to positions by Obama himself. Which, you see, might tend to slash your thesis.

    Much the same applies to the Wired site. Noah Schactman…as near as I can tell over a couple of beers with the guy on several occasions, is also a liberal democrat. Now maybe I misunderstood. Are you saying that the Democratic Party is the “war party” to which you are referring?

    Max, I know that this might challenge some of your assumptions, but the fact is that the military has a large and active professional publication system tied to its education and training (two different things) systems. Within these journals, several of which are peer reviewed, dissent is not only applauded, it’s encouraged.

    Thus, despite the fact that HTS is an ARMY program, it was the Army’s quasi-academic professional journal Military Review which published a critical article by…a Marine. Frankly, that’s more than I see in academia most of the time. The AHA (American Historical Association) rarely gives the time of day to, say, an anthropologist, and visa versa I’m sure. Yet such cross fertilization and self-critique are common in the military, and have been since the mid-1980s.

    So, if you’re talking about those mil-bloggers with a rightwing slant, yes, Blackfive would fit in there. But Small Wars would not, and AM would not. (I can’t speak to most of the others.) Understand that there are grays in the world Max. It’s not all black and white.

    Bob Bateman

    1. Maximilian Forte

      “Yet you were apparently not aware that several of the people who blog at AM are, in fact, liberal democrats who campaigned for Obama…two of them now being appointed to positions by Obama himself. Which, you see, might tend to slash your thesis.”

      Two things: it would not slash my thesis, Obama is a war president, and he makes that plain…he is not fully withdrawing from Iraq, he is ramping up the war in Afghanistan, he makes threatening statements about Iran, he increases the Defense budget in a time of crushing economic crisis, he has a murky new policy on torture, he takes his time closing down Guantanamo, he backed continued domestic wiretaps without warrants, he has not repealed the Patriot Act. I have in various posts called him a fascist and a cosmetic figure to sweeten continued imperial engagements. So, no, no liberal democrat ever slashes my thesis, they are grist for it.

      The other sense of “war party” is much broader: people with interests vested in war. That was my initial basis for “lumping” all of the above together. People who blog, and have vested interests in war. I blog, and have an interest in seeing those wars end. There is your “black and white,” and as you see, it is quite applicable. In fact, you can never have any gray areas were it not for the basic black-and-white that makes gray possible.

  50. RYP

    Here is an interesting do loop caused by my tongue in cheek definition of milblogger here:

    As I have mentioned before “milblogging” runs the gamut from insightful to anecdotal to hilarious to pathetic but my humorous take on the stereotypical milblogger has now resonated with certain milbloggers. And you can guess exactly which ones :)))

    I won’t spend too much time on this but you can clearly see how my atttempt at humor has suddenly been turned into a vicious attack on the right wing by the left wing (I am neither) Damn its funny watching the dog pound barking at its own shadow.

    oh and I would be remiss in not pointing out that their inability to provide a single intelligent defense of the Majors or Stanton’s critique of the HTS program is now their “right to remain silent” …brilliant!

    1. Maximilian Forte

      WOTN manifests an especially strong dishonest streak, and like Old Blue, a fundamental inability to comprehend, let alone respect, any view that might be different from his own — it’s as if nothing registers, at all.

      So if a professor disagrees with him then this is how the gears in his head begin to turn:

      * professor = scientist
      * scientist = science = facts only, no interpretations
      * I am milblogger, what me say about me = fact = no argument
      * he not speak fact, he speak interpretation, he not scientist
      * maybe he should not be professor?

      It is rudimentary stuff, the common fictions that people work with to massage and lubricate their ideologies.

      What I find hilarious is this attitude:

      Milblogger, come on, you don’t know the definition? What are you, some kinna idiot?

      As if the phenomenon were so old, so well established, so well defined, the practice widely recognized and understood, that we could treat definitions as facts…not as something in process, under construction, an interpretation that tries to produce itself as fact.

      People claim to want academic discourse instead of ranting, then can’t handle the discourse. “You” asked for it.

  51. WOTN

    RYP: If that was your attempt at “humor,” then you need serious lessons in etiquette and comedic effect.

    You’ve achieved your primary goal: attention, albeit negative attention from multiple quarters. (Note: Negative advertising can in fact be negative.)

    Your apparent sense of self-importance seems to eclipse everything else, but in this case you simply provided an example of an extreme attempt to define things you don’t understand and which you seem to feel threatened by.

    Given what I’ve seen of your comments here and the story you wrote, I would expect the world of respectable journalists to view your work in the same vein as the Profession of Warriors views the Marine that threw the puppy off the cliff or the Engineers turned MP’s of Abu Ghraib. Warriors have great disdain for both. They are not representative of our profession and their court martials treated them better than would the Troops.

    But every group of people have members that do not conform to the Values of the Group. The question is how the group deals with those that do not. The answer in the case of the Military is a fair trial and expulsion. If guilt is proven in the story linked in the original article here, you can expect the Military and the Troops to afford similiar disdain.

  52. RYP

    Like a red cape to a bull…they charge again and again…completely missing the source of their frustration standing right in front of them taunting them. What they are dog whistle dumb to is a centrist logical point of view that both respects and disagrees with their point of view.

    Don Quixote mastered the art of tilting at windmills…they have yet to understand that change comes from sitting inside the other camp and defending their views. Not sitting outside and throwing rocks over the wall. Its a fear based mentality. The Left, the MSM, the unPatriotic, the Intellectual. Victims who dare move from their pre-targeted spot and respond to them with requests for more homework.

    Has anyone done a paper or in depth review of milbloggers? Its a Bush era phenomena that sprang from the military’s absolute inability to understand why their own countrymen did not understand, agree or condone much of the jingoism coming from DC.

    For a little softmilblogporn you might want to check out the Army’s best shot at “groundtruth” with helmeted Fred W. Baker III at the helm. The headlines are almost humorous. I am waiting for “Army Hugs Insurgent Kittens”, or “Laura Bush Reads Bedtime Stories to Baby Talibs” “Camo Burqas Are Kabul’s New Fashion Craze” OK OK I made those up but “MRAPs Provide Safe Feeling” and “Security Forces Provide Safety Net” aren’t going to generate many hits from the people they hope to influence.

    Kudos to the mil for the slick production but a little and more keen observation from the world’s most violent place might be more productive in engaging Americans who truly want to know what’s going on. .

  53. Bob Bateman

    RYP. I don’t agree with you on a lot of things, but on the Public Affairs vapid attempt to blog, oh God, it makes me want to hide my uniform. It’s truly cringe inducing, but thats the end result when we have to send our puppy PAOs to PR firms to learn ‘the trade’ because no news organization will touch them now.

    (We used to have nascent PAOs, right out of grad school, do a year “Training With Industry”, usually at a newspaper. We didn’t care if they worked as a reporter on the city desk, or copyedited, or sat through endless city council meetings, or just fetched coffee. We wanted them in a newsroom for a year to get to understand the process, the pressures, the methods, the pros and the cons, of journalism. But then some moron Psyops assignment officer sent two TWI guys from the psyops career field to either NYT or WSJ [I forget which, it might’ve been CNN], and after about a year news of this got out, and there was a HUGE brouhaha, the upshot of which is that nobody will let any military ‘free labor’ in the door. Which is effectively shooting themselves in the foot, but then nobody said that the military had a corner on that market.)

  54. Marc Tyrrell

    “Has anyone done a paper or in depth review of milbloggers? Its a Bush era phenomena that sprang from the military’s absolute inability to understand why their own countrymen did not understand, agree or condone much of the jingoism coming from DC.”

    RYP, there have been several in-depth studies of milblogging as well as a very open statement by LGEN Wm. B. Caldwell IV on the new media (

    Your characterization of where it springs from is, I’m sorry to say, ridiculous. Milblogging or, rather, the use of blogging technology by many serving soldiers, came out of communicating with their friends and family. As with any professional community, milblogs are interlinked fairly tightly and tend to centre around sites that provide the resources that are most useful to them. That original impetus to communicate is what led to the current meme of “set the record straight”.

  55. WOTN

    Max: Do you or do you not claim to be a scientist?
    Do you or do you not claim to be a professor?
    Do you or do you not have experience in the Military?
    Do you or do you not have experience in Afghanistan?
    Are you or are you not a blogger?
    Do you take offense when others attempt to define your positions, your field of expertise, and your speciality?

    Interesting that you would now mischaracterize my positions, and the method by which I state them? (Going for the John Kerry thing I see.)

    Yes, I did ask for mature (and evidenced) discussion, both within the arena of milbloggers, and in the general arena of political discourse. Unfortunately, that is not what you provided here, precisely because of your mischaracterization. I had thought based on your more recent article that you had moved closer to that, but your comment here demonstrates otherwise.

      1. Maximilian Forte

        Here are some short answers to some relatively silly questions, one of which I answered already:

        Max: Do you or do you not claim to be a scientist? — NO.

        Do you or do you not claim to be a professor? — I do not claim it. It is a fact. That is my employment. News flash! Most professors in universities are either in the social sciences or humanities, not the natural sciences, and the methods (thankfully) that they use are all over the map. Question to you: Have you ever been to a university? Have you read any books about the history, philosophy or sociology of science?

        Do you or do you not have experience in the Military? — No, I have experience with militarization. Most people do.

        Do you or do you not have experience in Afghanistan? — No, I have experience with asking questions and noting contradictions.

        Are you or are you not a blogger? — I am, now, here.

        Do you take offense when others attempt to define your positions, your field of expertise, and your speciality? — No, I correct them. They often take offense at the corrections.

        Interesting that you would now mischaracterize my positions, and the method by which I state them? (Going for the John Kerry thing I see.) — Interesting that you continue with your deliberate misrepresentation of Kerry’s joke, many years later. Interesting that you would misunderstand basically everything I said. Interesting to see a pattern emerging.

        AND WHO THE HELL ARE YOU, IF I MAY ASK? Nice for an anonymous, unknown entity to try to interrogate someone whose detailed record is right out there in public.

        WOTN, stand down, your crap will not fly here.

  56. RYP

    Their are PAOs who think their job is soviet style sausage making and others who completely understand the diversity of the media.

    The ones that rise to the top provide off the record briefings, ease of access and an acceptance that the media likes a little grit to generate pearls. Then when they need a full court press they do a slam dunk. I would point to Left of Boom as a masterpiece of PAO kung fu. After dozens of sniping and critical articles about JIEDDO failure, a multi part piece does a slam dunk on the work and accomplishments done by that organization. All done with clear assistance from the subject matter.

    Good PAO’s also know that the OODA loop is not a zero sum game but a constant tennis match. But there are many who simply don’t get it (that dog whistle thing).

    One dipstick mark of failure is lack of humor. You see it in Bin Laden, you see it in milbloggers, you see it in the taliban, Iran etc etc. If we can’t feather our hard edges and accommodate new ideas…then we are losing the information war. Because it is not about repeating hard positions its about embracing and spreading the message beyond the convinced and outward to skeptical audiences.

    And what the fuck do you mean you when you say you don’t agree with everything I say! You commie, flag burning, turncoat bastard :))))

    Just kidding..(that was a J-O-K-E for the milbloggers in the room)

  57. RYP


    I suppose I will have to invent a term to describe the type of milblogger I am talking about. FauxMilBlogger? Cubicle Warriors? Keyboard Kommandos? I am sure there is term out there for people who aren’t actually in high tempo ground based activities but sitting at home spouting angry opinion camoflaged behind anonymous patriotic handles their web page sagging from the weigh of militaria.

    My earlier attempt is not far off. Blogging was directly confronted by the military and there has been a bit of back and forth on its efficacy in communicating “good news” beyond simple “what I did today” You might remember the YouTube debacle in which the military began posting videos to counter terrorist videos.

    I am only interested in this minor phenomena of disinformation and its recycling amongst certain individuals. As I mentioned before my first exposure was when a well known con artist and felon harnessed this “machinery” to spread disinformation.

    A marine threw a Puppy off a cliff??…or did a terrorist puppy throw a Marine off a cliff.?? Its hard to know which is true in the world of milbloggers.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      The other possibilities are: Milcretin and Milbecile.

      I actually have better terms for what I was thinking of when writing this post, but their definitions still need to be spelled out — for now, the options are: gwotters, the GWOTherd, the milpack, impbloggers or colobloggers (imperialist, colonialist bloggers).

      Personally my top choices would be gwotters and milpack.

  58. Maximilian Forte

    I get the feeling that this subject is now as exhausted as I am.

    The short version of what I was getting at is: Had I said, with the death of Paula Loyd, “Well at least now one HTAT has a little less cowbell,” an emotional volcano would have exploded…again.

    When the misogynists wear American uniforms, then all sorts of excuses are offered for silence.

    A deep seated, perhaps even unconscious or taken for granted racism is one of the plausible explanations for the difference.

    It’s not about independently corroborated “evidence” for a story…there was none offered in the story of Paula Loyd, and no court hearing to determine the facts of the case. That stopped none from taking everything about the stories in the press at face value…and it seems that some even developed a very intimate understanding of what was inside Salam’s head, without hearing so much as one single word from him.

    But what did they get angry about? That my interpretation of the meaning of “milblogger” did not match theirs — now that was a major infraction.

  59. RWL

    “When the misogynists wear American uniforms, then all sorts of excuses are offered for silence. A deep seated, perhaps even unconscious or taken for granted racism is one of the plausible explanations for the difference.”

    I’ve been reading the commentary for days now and I wonder how this entire conversation would have gone if the participants were face to face.

    Accusations of racism, misogyny and other sorts of invectives (as RYP so ably provides) tend to fall flat when confronted by an actual living, breathing audience. Which is not only why RYP and Maximum Fortitude (or whatever your badass handle happens to be) confine their critiques to the written word but also why their intended audience is pretty much a useless bunch of navel gazers.

    High school never ends, gentlemen. Thank you for reaffirming that little ditty for me.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Actually, that “would you say it to my face” crack is very much high school. And yes, I would say it straight to anyone’s face, and indeed I have.

    2. Maximilian Forte

      My badass handle? Excuse me, I use my real name on this blog and everywhere else and it is Maximilian Forte. Not a handle like RWL, which of course lacks any imagination at all.

      1. RWL

        “Actually, that “would you say it to my face” crack is very much high school.”

        Of course it is. Did you somehow miss that the overall juvenile nature of this discussion was the point of my post?

        “And yes, I would say it straight to anyone’s face, and indeed I have.”

        But of course you have.

        *rolls eyes*

        “My badass handle? Excuse me, I use my real name on this blog and everywhere else and it is Maximilian Forte.”

        That’s your real name? Damn. You should hug your parents because without a doubt your name is second only to Pussy Galore in the parthenon of badass names.

        “Not a handle like RWL, which of course lacks any imagination at all.”

        I’m doing my best to emulate my new hero, RYP. Can you blame me?

  60. WOTN

    Maximilian Forte said, on March 4th, 2009 at 2:12 pm
    “So now WOTN is getting angry, the angry milblogger, because once again someone has dared to point out to him that there are different realities, and different ways to understand reality.”
    “WOTN, stand down, your crap will not fly here.”

    Angry? Not a chance. I am disappointed with your site, your articles, and the commentary of it, but I am not angry. You have a great opportunity to share your field and education, freely, to the world, as you claim in your about page you planned to do, but you have squandered that for the sake of political ideology.

    That is a shame, because I came here, to this site, to learn more about a field and opinions that are outside my expertise. Instead, you’ve treated a whole segment of the population to little more than hateful rhetoric.

    But it is interesting that you feel you have the right to order my silence. You do not. You don’t have the moral, legal, nor any other authority to order me to do anything.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Well, actually, you are wrong once again. On this blog, you have the privilege to post, not the right. When you come from a blog that is steeped in imperialist propaganda, your exaggerated protest as if you were merely an innocent party pretty much kills your credibility.

  61. Bob Bateman


    That is why, unlike “WOTN” and “Mars” and a host of others, I refuse to be anonymous. It is a poison.

    I moderated a forum, years ago, on Compuserve (ahhhh, the ancient days, eh?). It was for a group of people who had only one unifying factor. They came from across the political and socioeconomic spectrum, and only shared one element…and element largely biologically determined. (Not race or gender or sexual orientation btw.) It was like herding cats.

    So…ummm, “RLW”…care to stand up and be counted? With, like, your name?

    Bob Bateman

  62. RWL

    “So…ummm, “RLW”…care to stand up and be counted? With, like, your name?”

    Sure thing, Sir. It’s Robert Lovely. Formerly a low-born 11B (who also did some time in a PAO office– no doubt that will flavor some of your future comments towards me), currently a low-born wage slave at a Fortune 100. My areas of expertise include poking fun at those who take themselves too seriously and being, in general, a pain in the ass. At your service :-)

    I was making a point with using the handle RWL– I knew that Maximilian Forte would take a swat at it. At this point he’s flailing away at anything that even resembles criticism by focusing on the trivial and inane. It just so happens that he insulted Sir Robert Young Pelton’s choice of a screen name, too. I can’t help but be amused by it all.

    Seriously, we’re all (supposed to be) adults. Mr. Pelton, stop demonizing your opponents as if they have spawned the hound dog of Satan. Milbloggers, stop taking his bait and overreacting. Maximilian Forte (I still can’t get over how awesome your name is, BTW), stop imagining that people like Abu Muqawama (err…begging your forgiveness, LTC Bateman, Andrew Exum) fall into rigidly defined ideological stereotypes that can be conveniently dismissed. Supporters of HTS, the program has some serious problems. Canadians stop validating your place in the world by comparing yourself to what the United States isn’t. Americans stop ignoring the contributions of your neighbours to the North. I guess should probably stop cheering from the sidelines.

    We’re tearing each other apart for what purpose? I don’t want to have too much of a Rodney King moment, but c’mon gentleman and ladies. The snark and the snapping isn’t doing anyone any good. This exchange has produced nothing constructive, and I’m afraid that it is one of many threads that is setting an incredibly hostile tone between two sides of the same COIN. Everyone here is incredibly intelligent (except, of course, for the only one among us without a graduate degree– RWL) and if you all can’t find common, respectful ground then who can? A lot of good, decent people are depending on the brain trust of the West and frankly it’s let us down to this point.

    Doubt I’ll change anyone’s attitude or the tone of any conversations but I had to speak up. Feel free to flame away at my misplaced altruism and doe-eyed optimism. I can take it!

    1. Maximilian Forte

      “decent people are depending on the brain trust of the West and frankly it’s let us down to this point”

      Really? Who are these decent people that wait and depend on this so-called West?

    2. Maximilian Forte

      “I knew that Maximilian Forte would take a swat at it. At this point he’s flailing away at anything that even resembles criticism by focusing on the trivial and inane.”

      No, I took a “swat” at the allegation that my name was a pseudonym, I was merely correcting a mistake, and then making a simple little observation that you took too seriously.

      Finally, I did not mistake your summary of the arguments as either altruism or optimism. It is “après-coup” material, and you wrote it to advance yourself.

  63. RWL

    “Really? Who are these decent people that wait and depend on this so-called West?”


    Me, for one. Pretty much everyone else I know. I’m guessing you have a reason as to why we don’t count.

    “No, I took a ‘swat’ at the allegation that my name was a pseudonym, I was merely correcting a mistake, and then making a simple little observation that you took too seriously.”

    Seriously? I think the only serious part of my post began with the word “seriously”. I was poking fun at you and you’re still being a thundering ass. I mean can you seriously not find the seriously ironic humor in calling my chosen handle unimaginative…all while suckling on the teat of Sir Robert Young Pelton (RYP)? You need to seriously check yourself, Max.

    “Finally, I did not mistake your summary of the arguments as either altruism or optimism. It is ‘après-coup’ material, and you wrote it to advance yourself.”

    Advance myself with which party, exactly? Will telling you all to grow up make me more adept at my current passion in life (finance) or something? Max, you have some serious issues. I’m being completely sincere when I say that. And yes, I would tell you that to your face. Seriously. ;-)

    1. Maximilian Forte

      “And yes, I would tell you that to your face. Seriously. ;-)”

      Sure you would. *YAWN*

      Too bad that, like the extremists who take themselves too seriously, you seem unable to express a single point without making an offensive point against others. Now why is that?

      You are full of yourself, and your humour, limited as it is, is very rudimentary. You should look up the concept of “conversational terrorism,” it’s something you are trying here, only your attempt is very elementary.

      Thus far, of all the commentators here, you have been the least interesting and the most dishonest.

  64. RWL

    Just finished reading some of the other articles throughout your cozy little abode here on the web and I’m going to wave the white flage before you even respond. I surrender! You don’t seem to enjoy laughing at yourself nor do you enjoy calm, well-reasoned arguments. Nothing I say is going to convince you to take a down a notch so I’m just going to step away while I still have my internet reputation intact.

    Good luck, Max!

  65. Maximilian Forte

    Yes, I believe you did finish reading some, but obviously few enough to rush to the conclusions that you find most appropriate. As I guessed, you wrote these comments to advance your own position.

    You don’t know nor understand this blog, so the smart thing to do would have been to reserve comment until you had enough time to figure it out.

    There is an enormous amount on this blog that is both calm, well reasoned, and humorous, and that’s not just my opinion either. You chose not to see any of it, and that reinforces my sense that your intervention was going to be a dishonest, ad hominem and self-serving one.

    Of course you surrender, you had to.

    Thanks for trying, but I have seen better, much better, and frankly I would not want to even see your face let alone say something to it.

  66. eliza2009

    Wow Max you unraveled the little attention seeking RWL in two steps, that’s probably record time. You answered him calmly without taking any of his ad hominems personally. You asked him questions. He fires back with exclamations, more ad hominems, and this is the guy who thinks he is humorous, calm and well reasoned. He is funny no doubt about it – as in to laugh at, not with.

    Anyway I just dropped in to see where this discussion ended up and I was sorry to see the last person to comment try some cheesy little agenda setting technique, mixed up with smirky snarkiness and smug self praise. RWL probably psyched himself up to think he could bring you to heel with one little snippy message, and then he loses it. He should realize (if the thinks he’s human), that it is pretty human and normal to get angry. The few times I have read angry words from you Max on specific topics, I would have been pretty disappointed if you had remained calm. RWL is probably new at this whole reading thing.

    RWL, get a life. Pelton doesn’t want to come out and play with you, OK? He probably found funnier trolls elsewhere.

  67. Maximilian Forte

    Yes we have to cater to the RWLs of the world, because their opinion matter so much, and we wouldn’t want to deviate from the role they hold out for us.

  68. Maximilian Forte

    …besides, anyone is entitled to their simplistic and ignorant opinion about this blog, they are just not entitled to having that opinion respected.

    The fun that I had with RWL was to see him quickly become exactly and precisely that which he said he was not: a one-sided, name calling, high-schoolish little partisan.

  69. Ari.F.

    My take on this is about setting up a catch 22, except that RLW probably isn’t experienced enough to know how to set one up with any kind of skill.
    The idea is that you complain to an academic who speaks a language anyone can understand and meets people on their own terms for not being intellectualist and removed from public debates. Then, when you’re back in the clouds speaking an intellectual idiom nobody can figure out, this sets up the anti-intellectualism side with ammunition, that you’re not in the real world. I love this idea of conversational terrorism because I see it on a lot of blogs. It looks like a contradiction, but it isn’t really: it’s just a way of trying to set up a trap. What was really funny is how you snapped the trap back on him. Ouch! LOL!

    BTW I’m interested in blogging, social activism and discourse. I’ve been here before, left a comment I think, and I’ve been having a great time reading these threads. RWL’s catch 22 attempt here is great for my study. I’ll send you some of my stuff by email.

  70. Maximilian Forte

    Hello Ari,

    I think I recall you commenting previously too, but I also believe I have seen a paper around the kinds of subjects you mentioned above that was sent to me (I can’t remember the details, and I have not yet had a chance to do anything more than skim the paper). The author’s name, if I remember, is somewhat similar to your name here.

    Anyway, if you want, we can discuss further by email perhaps. Please feel free to contact me at

    Thanks for your observations here.

  71. Maximilian Forte

    Bob Bateman is a Pentagon counter-blogger:

    When Bob Bateman posted these two comments,

    March 3rd, 2:18pm:

    and on March 11, 1:41pm:

    he did so from an IP that I traced directly to the Pentagon.

    So there he is, in some cubicle in the Pentagon, posting during regular working hours (although I imagine the Pentagon’s regular working hours are 24/7), coming on this blog to attack anyone who might have a critical view of U.S. military practice. Then in other posts he blames the civilians in charge, lest anyone might take a negative tone toward the troops.

    Interesting. One wonders if this is regular Pentagon practice, to counter-blog, and to blame the civilians that the Constitution demands that they answer to (a rather impolitic statement to say the least).

  72. Bob Bateman


    (I couldn’t “reply”, so I’ll backquote)

    In re organized “Counter blogging” by “the Pentagon” (which I denied) you wrote:

    “Air Force Releases ‘Counter-Blog’ Marching Orders

    To which I reply, “Holy Crap!” And I read Noah’s stuff all the time, and periodically have too many beers with him. Don’t know how I missed that. You were right and I was wrong. But let’s put a qualifier on there to make it accurate, eh?

    The US Air Force now, apparently, DOES have a “counter-blogging” function in its public affairs wing. (The caveat being that it is, at least so far, only the USAF. Not the whole DoD structure, and each of the services. So far as I can tell, they’re the only ones.) I’ll be interested to see if that backlashes on them. (The Army route was different, we opened our own blogs with comments areas. Sort of the inverse of the USAF approach. Again. I don’t know about USMC or USN at this point. DoD itself has no blogs other than one Public Affairs pablum site, which I don’t think is open for comments.)

    Bob Bateman

  73. Bob Bateman

    Just went and looked at the USAF’s “blog.” More public relations pablum. I’m guessing that their readership must now be in the dozens.

    (Just look at the near complete lack of any comments whatsoever.)

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Yes, but did you know that they are also in Twitter? No big deal, I am just having a laugh at all the anti-hype about Twitter that is aired these days, notably by John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

      I actually do follow as many of the military services as I can find in Twitter, as well as the various “COMs” (AFRICOM, etc.). I can’t say they have been very enlightening, or that they have said much at all in fact. I also followed the blog of the U.S.S. Kearsarge as it toured Central America and the Caribbean, and again, not much of personal interest to me — though there were quasi-comical instances of the wives of sailors pestering the Captain to specify when they would be back home.

  74. Bob Bateman

    Well, this actually goes a little towards my point about the vast conspiracy of counter-blogging…our public affairs systems (there are six, one for each of the services, then DoD itself, plus the Coast Guard) just are NOT that competent.

    They are, sadly, little more than flacks, and they’re not even very good at that. It’s like listening to a concerto played by somebody who is absolutes stone-cold tone deaf. Which is why, when people talk about a big “Pentagon” plan for counter-blogging (or propaganda, or whatever) I laugh.

    As you note, most of what they put out is boring and unenlightening. Which, pathetically, is the norm in all actions by our various public affairs sections.

    (Sidebar: The history of censorship and propaganda and the military-media relationship has actually been something in my “to do” list for at least half a decade. But, as with many large scale academic projects, it’s not really viable for me to pursue until I have the time to really pursue it for a manuscript. Plus, my planned endpoint is probably 1991, if I’m writing history, so it’ll be a few more years before the sources are really available on that period.)

    Stewart is a friend of mine, but I admit that I don’t watch him that often. What has he been saying about Twitter?

    Bob Bateman

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I can’t give you exact quotes now (and the archived videos don’t seem to play), but his comments on Twitter had to do with people in Congress “twittering” while Obama spoke, that it was a mindless fad essentially, and immediately after Colbert was almost identical in echoing a similar set of attacks on Twitter surrounding the same issue (Obama in Congress).

  75. Bob Bateman

    Oh yea, OK, I remember that bit.

    Yep, well, that’s what satirists do. Poke holes in trends. (And truly, it is a bit strange to see those congressmen doing that during the State of the Union. The Washington Post also had a piece on it, which is probably where Jon picked it up.)

    But the other side of it is that Jon really doesn’t use the net much as far as I can tell. I mean, he reads compulsively, but he’s the world’s worst e-mailer. As far as I can tell (and we’re just friends, not close friends) 9 times out of 10 he’ll call instead of e-mailing. In fact, now that I think of it, most of the e-mails that do get sent are actually sent by his assistant Beth, on his behalf. Which might also explain why he finds it strange.

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