Friday, April 3, 2009

Michael Yon's News 4/3/09

Below you find a collection of e-mails from Michael Yon, our citizen journalist who has travelled the world to give us news from behind the lines of fire in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I would like to share these with you. From here on in, the writings will be from Michael. Have a wonderful weekend.

March 31, 2009.
Gary Sinise has gotten behind the documentary called "Brothers at War." I haven't seen it yet because I've not been in the United States, but the reviews are excellent.

Brothers at War.

The British continue to get slammed, but I am very proud to know the British soldiers who took me into combat. At least five British units took me into combat (where there was actual combat). As much as I hate combat, I'd go back to war with them in a heartbeat. Please read.

I've been seriously considering shifting some focus to Mexico, which obviously is already having a very negative affect on the United States. We've got to do something, once and for all, about sealing that border. It's unlikely it will ever be completely sealed, but it shouldn't be a freeway. And covering Mexico would not be like covering the Hindu Kush. I could actually visit Texas and New Mexico and Arizona and California and call it work!

April 1, 2009.

It might seem we are off to a slow start on war coverage this year, but in fact 2009 will likely bring the most intense war coverage I've ever done. It will be up close and personal, and no doubt some very intense combat. But this new work is like launching a rocket. It's like writing, actually: 95% preparation/homework and 5% execution. (Though "execution" in the wars often goes on for many months on end.)

Meanwhile, I just published a piece in the New York Daily News print and online editions.

I will have a piece in the Washington Times print and online on Thursday.

I'm also finishing a long piece on torture.

The very few words I've written about Mexico have stirred much controversy. Mexico is mostly out my sphere of experience other than short trips, and I've only spent a few months traveling in places like Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. And so I have said very little about Mexico, but the topic is very emotive for various reasons, such as the potential implications of large amounts of guns that might be moving from the United States to Mexico. The only apparent certainty is that truth will be the first casualty for anyone reporting on guns to Mexico. Too many people have vested interests in shaping the message.

The word "Mexico" today is starting to ring like "Iraq" did six years ago. It's interesting that Afghanistan evokes very little emotion, and so reporting truth from there is less likely to spur outrage. And today, Iraq is no longer the lightning rod that it was -- so long as a new war does not spark, which might change that. The Iraq-media-balloon is flat. But Mexico...there's a lightning rod, and any writer who dares look into the weapons issue will likely become a pinata. Especially if he or she discovers something inconvenient.

Hurricane Mexico seems to be gathering energy both in reality and in the media. At least if you cover Mexico, you can live part time in Texas or thereabouts with Americans. Been a long time for me.

In other news, Baitullah Mehsud has apparently threatened to attack the United States. This is interesting in light of so many snippets out there, such as the local source who recently told me that an Australian is apparently with AQ in a certain area in Pakistan. Needless to say, an Australian passport will get you over just about any border.

April 1, 2009.
You've got to see the latest haul from one of our Canine heroes. This is only one reason why these dogs get treated better than Lassie.

Not only do they get treated better than Lassie; they also get treated better than Soldiers and Marines. No kidding.

Please also see this Op-Ed on Obama and AfPak in the Washington Times.

April 2, 2009.

Several readers have forwarded a very interesting story from FOX. Looks like FOX has been digging around for answers and they are providing exactly the answers that some readers were asking about. I hope FOX is right, because that means I have very smart readers.

I'm heading into Laos tomorrow and not sure if I will have communications or Internet. Emotions are running high now but this too shall pass. Please keep the cursing on the site to a minimum. Kids read the comments. Most readers probably have noticed that even if 90% of the weapons into Mexico don't come from the United States, 99% of the comments to my site are published without filtration (other than for profanity). Insults make me stronger. Like Rocky doing situps and getting punched in the stomach. Could be worse; al Qaeda wants to murder me.

Please read the FOX story.

April 2, 2009.
Am heading to Laos just now. Amazing place but haven’t been there since before I first dropped into the Iraq war. They call Laos, “The Land of a Million Elephants.” I once looked at a very old map in Venice, Italy, and Laos was depicted on the map by lots of elephants. Speaking of which, a young female elephant tried to hit me with stalks of sugarcane last week. She was angry about something. Her name was “Nungning,” which is a very funny word in Thai language. I was told that “nungning” means the flamboyant way that a lady boy acts and walks. Whatever the case, Nungning the young elephant has a great throwing-trunk and can wallop you with sugarcane. She’s a pretty good shot, too.

Two interesting stories here. One is about Rape in Afghanistan, and the other discusses the black market of military gear in Pakistan.

On weapons to Mexico, some people dispute the veracity of the FOX report which disputes the veracity of government reports. I’ll get to that soon, but there is the feeling that this discussion is not winding down. It’s just getting started. The Mexico issue reminds me of Iraq but not Afghanistan. Truth was difficult to report from Iraq because the emotional valence was so high, and political stakes were monumental. Reputations and careers were destroyed by the tsunami of emotions. Afghanistan is easier; I still catch flak for Afghan reporting and likely will catch heavy flak this year when I return, but nothing like the lightning bolts that regularly struck me while reporting Iraq. Mexico brings a madhouse of interests and the gun issue is just one. There are the aliens and drugs and on and on. Will be interesting to hit the ground there.

Please view this very disturbing video. The video indicates what many have said, that Mexican authorities are neck-deep in the drug business: Mexican Incursions into the US.

Please also keep up with the comments. Discussion is always helpful.

I’ll be in Laos for the next little bit, possibly with little communications.

Your writer,

Michael Yon

PS. If you enjoy his writings, you can do all of us a huge favor and support him along with us. He is out there without any backing except that which we provide. You may send him $10, $20, $100 here. If you would rather mail it to him, you may do that instead. Thank you for your time. Have a great weekend.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary's News and Ideas. Digg! Digg!

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