01. November 2004 · Comments Off on Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst · Categories: General, Media Matters Not

With luck, by the end of the next 36 hours, we will have a definitive answer to the question of who will be President for the next four years. I had an e-mail last night from an occasional contributor which raised the issue of a Kerry victory, and how that would affect the military… and most importantly to me, the effect on this and other milblogs.

While this weblog tends toward the right-of-center, reflecting the makeup of the military in general, and I personally yield to no one (save perhaps the Swiftboat Vets) in my personal detestation of Senator Kerry and all his works and all his ways, the fact remains that once the confetti and the hanging chads are swept away, the military is (and should continue to be) apolitical, answering to the office of the Commander in Chief— regardless of who happens to be in that office from year to year. We are not a Praetorian Guard. We do not select the supreme leader of this country, save in our private capacity as citizens and voters along with everyone else. We’ll leave that sort of regime change to banana republics and third-world hell-holes, and if Senator Kerry is elected— by anything from a slim margin to a landslide—- he would then be the Commander in Chief.

Depending on the perspective, this is a prospect that ranges from the disastrous in every respect to the merely unappetizing. While I, and several other regular contributors are retired and well-beyond the reach of recall, even as members of the inactive reserve, others— Stryker, Cpl. Blondie, Timmer, ThePie and others are still serving on active duty… and as President, he would be at the top of their chain of command. We may not like it, but we at least have to consider the possibility, as well as our reaction to it— which should be to grit our teeth and carry on. If we could endure Jimmy Carter, practically anything is survivable, though I am not sure I could endure the gloating of, say…Michael Moore and the other Hollywood half-wits. A lot of red wine (non-French!) would probably help a lot.

The other unwelcome thought that occurred to me, was that perhaps weblogs run by military people have been leading a charmed and sheltered existence for the last couple of years. Run on our own time and our own dime, under pseudonyms, the milblogs offer a matchless view into the military world and experience from a perspective that even the most dedicated embedded reporter can’t begin to equal. Milbloggers— under no restraints but those imposed by the habits of OpSec, our own good sense and that of available technology— offer a strong blast of reality, undiluted by the watery constraints of a Public Affairs office.

I would logically expect that military public affairs offices would be onto milblogs like white on rice, even if only to read them, the way we used to go over the local newspaper with a fine-toothed comb, looking for news with a bearing on the military. I’d expect them to be in touch, as a valuable media resource, but that’s never happened. Last year, I detoured upstairs to the BAMC Public Affairs office after a routine appointment, and left my card and an offer to publicize any special appeals for the troops and patients. The GS employee I spoke with seemed interested and impressed with the possibilities, but I never heard anything more from that office.

After all the recent attention to weblogs, though, I don’t think any media relations professional could be ignorant of the effects that weblogs can have, and I think— though I have no definitive proof— that military bloggers are just being left alone, because what we do independently serves the military and even the political needs. We are getting the word out about what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, inside the military “other America”, and it suits the Public Affairs establishment just fine…. Because if it didn’t, I am positive that most military bloggers could be shut down in an administrative heartbeat. Those of us no longer bound by DOD strictures would still have to be very careful, in order not to endanger those who are. That they could regulate, and have not is rather telling, I think.

Would independent military weblogs serve the military Public Affairs needs of a Kerry Administration, especially if they appeared contrary, or critical of official policy? Those of us with long experience of this sort of thing have a pretty good idea. All the more reason to take the time— hours, if need be— to exercise your rights as a citizen. And one way and another, no matter who wins and looses, we’ll still be here

(BTW, I have a feeling it will be Bush, by a landslide… but what do I know?)

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