Michael Yon - a martyr

Michael Yon is the best journalist in Iraq - and his writing is the most gripping and addictive reporting out of Iraq that you'll find. It makes the mass media - and the punditocracy, on both sides of the partisan fence - utterly irrelevant.

I highlight one passage out of one of many, many posts. This passage I choose because it highlights the depth of his wisdom and clarity. From his reprinted post, Battle for Mosul II:

The word martyr is derived from the word "to witness." It is used to describe a person who is killed because of a belief or principle. Given the choice to recant, martyrs chose instead to face their murderers and stand in witness to their beliefs. True martyrs do not kill themselves, but stand their ground and fight in the face of death to demonstrate the power of their convictions, sometimes dying as a result, but preferably surviving.

The only martyrs I know about in Iraq are the fathers and brothers who see a better future coming, and so they act on their beliefs and assemble outside police stations whenever recruitment notices are posted. They line up in ever increasing numbers, knowing that insurgents can also read these notices. The men stand in longer and longer lines, making ever bigger targets of themselves. Some volunteer to to earn a living. This, too, is honorable. But others take these risks because they believe that a better future is possible only if Iraqi men of principle stand up for their own values, for their country, for their families. Theses are the true martyrs, the true heroes of Iraq and of Islam. I meet these martyrs frequently. They are brave men, worthy of respect.

emphasis mine - because Michael Yon stands up for his beliefs, is attacked daily for them, and faces death for his convictions. I pray for his safety and his survival, as I do for all the men in Deuce Four, and all the men in our military who serve so that I may be free.

And I demand that you add Michael Yon to your daily reading, if you care a whit about the future of freedom in Iraq.

UPDATE: Dean has an excerpt from Yon's latest post. It's compelling narrative that puts Tom Clancy to shame - and it's real.


Thomas Nephew said...

What do you think of this article, by Larry Johnson: "Why We Must Leave Iraq Now"?

I honor Michael Yon, Iraqis who sincerely want to join the new Iraqi security forces for reasons beyond a paycheck or infiltration, and US troops who honorably try to help Iraq become a democracy with freedoms.

But it looks as if Iraqi leaders don't want their country to be a democracy with freedoms most US citizens or troops would want to sacrifice their money or lives for, and as if a great and possibly increasing number of Iraqis don't want the help of US troops with their country's future in any case.

Yes, US troops serve so that we may remain free. But their service in Iraq may no longer be helping towards that goal either for us or for Iraqis. In fact, it may now be counterproductive for Iraqis -- and the dishonest origins of this war have not exactly advanced the state of our own democracy and freedoms either. What say you?

Is a theocracy and a smoldering-to-flaming civil war with no end in sight an improvement over Saddam? Perhaps, but not by anywhere near as much as I wanted. Is it "cutting and running" to suggest that after 2 years and 1800 dead it's time to leave?

Aziz Poonawalla said...


I don't discount as invalid the sympathies for withdrawal for Iraq- though I think you may be somewhat biased since you came outsearchjing than most, and thus have probably a la-searchjing than most, and thus have probably a greater sense of bitterness. And I share the assessment that for the average Iraqi woman, things have gotten worse since Saddam, not better (not to minimize how bad things were under Saddam, mind you).

But withdrawal would make the status of women even worse, because it would give the elements freer reign. Ultimately thatis the benchmark I use - we are a force for instability, sure, but we are also a force for stability. It seems contradictory, but Iraq today is a study in contradictions.

I don't see the false advertising of the war as relevant anymore to te fact that we are in Iraq now - that's essentially a battle that was lost three years ago and now I am more focused on fixing Iraq, not abandoning it to teh fates of the genies we have uncorked.

I cant really take Common Dreams seriously, so I am reluctant to invest in eth time to read that particular argument for withdrawal. There are other good arguments in favor of withdrawal, being made by Kevin Drum, Matthew Yglesias, etc which have no cuh stigma. How we must stay - and for thate is the argument why we must stay - and for that, I refer you to the argument made by von at Obsidian Wings.

If you want to write a rebuttal to von's case, then I would be interested in seeing itbe sure to ping him and start a cross blog conversation, I will do my part in linking to both sides if you keep me appraised via email.

Aziz Poonawalla said...

argh, that was supposed to read "did more soul-searching than most" and my trackpad sliced and diced my cursor position. you know what i meant :)

Thomas Nephew said...

I'll have a look at von's arguments.

A couple of things meanwhile: Larry Johnson, the author of "Why We Must Leave," is formerly a State Department and CIA analyst, not some granola-kumbaya hippie or something.

Re the sunk cost of the poor rationales for Iraq: but they're being parlayed with even more poor rationales into even more costs. "We fight them there so we don't fight them here." "We honor the dead by finishing the job" -- without a clear statement on what that job is and when it's over. If it's "throwing the clerics some women's rights as long as we keep some major bases," then this wasn't just a travesty three years ago, it remains a travesty now.

Thanks for your response.