Thursday, October 27, 2005

Time to Get Out The Wood Chipper

According to Reuters and Agence-France Presse, the Jihadi's best friends in the media next to Al-Jazeera, the announcement that Saddam's legal team has resigned due to security concerns, makes it "doubtful that Saddam can receive a fair trial". These of course are the concerns of Amnesty International and other loonie-left "human rights" groups. If these groups were so concerned about human rights they would be making a stink about the murderous acts of barbarism committed by terrorists in Iraq and Israel on a regular, bloody, basis.

It's a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation with Saddam. My own belief was that they should have shot him out of hand when they found the bastard. But I can understand the dilemma the American administration was facing at the time with respect to former allies in Old Europe and Democratic critics at home.

I don't know what current Iraqi law is, but here in Canada, a defense team would be assigned to the odorous piece of slime and the trial would proceed. Hopefully the same happens in Iraq.

Then, try him, find him guilty, and bring out the wood chipper. The only humanitarian question here is whether Saddam gets to go in the chipper head or feet first. I'm voting for feet first if there's a vote.

Time to end it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My Review of Colby Buzzell's "MY WAR"

This has been my first experience witnessing the birth of an author. The experience is all the more compelling, knowing I have witnessed the metamorphosis of a talent unleashed during the chaos of the war in Iraq.

I first stumbled on CB’s blog, “MY WAR”, in the last days of August 2004, I don’t recall how, when he had already published the infamous post “MEN IN BLACK”. This post was his account of the surreal, chilling, mind-numbing events he participated in, while being ambushed, by who else, as many as 100 foreign fighters, all dressed in black. This was in the city of Mosul on 04 August 04.

“MEN IN BLACK” recounts CB’s experience as a contradiction of the CNN version of events. His stream of consciousness style of writing is so powerful you can feel the adrenaline pumping through his veins, while he relives the insanity of being caught in the middle the of the first all out, coordinated attack, by foreign terrorists in Iraq to date.

“MEN IN BLACK” was the entry that started lighting up Colby’s blog like the Fourth of July and finally started ringing alarm bells all the way to the pentagon. He shut his blog down voluntarily not too much longer after that. And the rest is history.

Interesting blog posts do not necessarily translate into interesting books. Fortunately, in this case they do. CB has a wicked sense of humor that is infectious. I read the first two parts of the book with a big smile on my face, when I wasn’t laughing out loud. This is the work of a natural writer, and as I alluded to at the top, writers are born, not taught, at least not formally. Colby is very well read. Probably more so than most of his contemporaries are, which is why, at 26 he found himself drifting from one dead end job to another, not fitting in anywhere, and thinking there’s got to be more to life than this.

His telling of the events that led up to his joining the army, to literally “be all that I could be” are hilarious. Especially his dealings with the Army recruiter who lured him away from the Marine recruiting office next door with the magic words “signing bonus”, an episode which caused me to laugh out loud.

This is a very well written book. The book’s basis is the story of how Colby Buzzell talked himself into the war in Iraq, his adventures during army training, which he found to be the “best job I ever had”, through the reality of serving with Bravo Company 2nd Platoon (the Tomahawk Battalion), 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd (Arrowhead) Brigade, 2nd infantry Division, in boredom and in battle, in Iraq.

It’s also about how he managed to talk himself out of the army, amidst all the flak he was getting form nervous superiors, with an Army Commendation Medal after serving the full two years he signed on for and not getting in the deep shit for pissing off higher command so royally.

Incidentally, CB’s Stryker Brigade was the very first of it’s kind to be deployed in the field. One of my favorite parts in the book is when he first saw a Stryker retrofitted with the “birdcage” an ugly but very effective piece of additional armor. Here’s how he describes the way the “birdcage works:

“ The birdcage, in theory, works the same way as the chicken-wire fence in the Blues Brothers did. In case you have no appreciation for fine cinema and have never viewed this classic, or maybe you’ve just forgotten the scene I’m referring to, It’s the part where Jake and Elwood get the band back together, and they have that gig at that Okie redneck bar that plays both kinds of music, country and western, and they open up the set by playing the song “Give Me Some Lovin’,” and the stage that they’re playing on has a chicken-wire fence in front of it to shield the band form the incoming Budweiser bottles being thrown at them by the local rednecks. The bottles impact and explode on the chicken-wire fence first, rather than on Jake or Elwood as they try to play. The birdcage around the Stryker works the same way.”

If you are familiar with CBFTW and his blog, or if you are interested in what the reality in Northern Iraq was in 2004, or better yet if you just want to read a good book, buy “MY WAR: Killing Time in Iraq” by Colby Buzzell. You’ll be glad you did. Hell yeah.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Gods and Generals and The Killer Angels

Sometime last year I was chatting on-line with a military history buff and the conversation turned to the American Civil War ( sometimes referred to these days by some Southerners as The War of Northern Aggression.) This was a subject with which I was only vaguely familiar and I asked for the recommendation of some reading material. It was suggested that I would do no better in understanding the nature and the substance of the conflict than by reading the historical novel 'The Killer Angels' Michael Shaara's 1974 Pulitzer prize winning novel.

Circumstances delayed that until one day the week before last, when I was browsing in my favorite used book store and put my hand on a copy of Jeff Shaaara's 'Gods and Generals' purely by accident. For those who don't know, Jeff is Michael's son and his book is a prequel to his fathers book. The book deals with the issues leading up to the war, starting in 1855 and deals primarily with four main characters: Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, William Scott hancock and Joshua Chamberlain. All, except the latter, were graduates of West Point and decorated veterans of The Mexican Wars. The book is riveting and very hard to put down. It leads us through build up to and the first battles of the war, all victories for the South, up through the Battle of Chancellorville.

'Gods and Generals' is the perfect introduction to 'The Killer Angels', both of which provide an understanding of the times, the history, the morals and the character of those involved. Currently I am engrossed with 'The Killer Angels' which deals with the first three days of July 1863: The Battle of Gettysburg.

General Norman H. Shwarzkopf said of this book: "The best and most realistic historical novel about war I have ever read." You'll notice he doesn't qualify which war. High praise indeed.

This is a bit of a delicious dilemma for me as today's mail brought a copy of 'My War: Killing Time in Iraq' by Colby Buzzell, best known to the blogosphere as CBFTW.

I had written a post about Colby's book and was kindly offered an advanced copy by John Lawton of the book's publisher Putnam. I am really keen on roaring thorugh Colby Buzell's book, but I can't leave Longstreet and Lee as they are about to commit themselves at Gettysburg. So I'm going to have to finish it hopefully tonight and then turn my attention to 'My War'. It's a good day.

P.S. My writing 'style' such as it is, isn't normally this flowery, but I can't get my head out of the South of 1863.