"Argument from authority is the weakest argument."
The most popular blog post I've written in a while has been about Michael Yon. Truth be told I don't follow the guy much but have never had a problem with his reporting. I try not to argue from authority, so what I write comes from my own thoughts and experience, nothing else. When I got an official email saying he had his embedded status revoked (without any official explanation attached to the email) I went to his site and saw a video of a what happens when an IED causes "battlefield amputations." I assumed that this was the cause of the revocation and posted my assumption. Then I went to bed. I think my actions were reasonable. However, the reaction I got was anything but reasonable.
So far three people have called me lazy for not doing my research and others have posted plenty of links to websites that say Yon is an exaggerating glory hound. I don't know why they would do this except that they have some emotional connection to the subject matter. Either this guy "CJ" is a misunderstood saint and Michael Yon is an unstable psychotic narcissist or the other way around. Of course since everything we read on the internet is true we can assume that both are true and reasonably conclude that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
So I ask you Michael Yon haters, what do you want? Do you want me to become part of the Michael Yon hate club? Do you want me to believe that everything he wrote is a complete fabrication? I simply can't do that, because I am a Soldier, and I know that Soldiers aren't plaster saints. I know that Soldiers get in fights, sometimes Soldiers rape each other. Sometimes Soldiers murder each other. I've been part of sending two soldiers to prison for kiddie porn. The Navy has relieved over 18 skippers this year for misconduct. Senior officers. How many Army Officers have been relieved? There have been multiple in my AO. So I can't dismiss what sounds reasonable based on my experience.
A few years back a buddy of mine from OCS was on a Human Terrain Team here in Afghanistan when a millionaire activists came through and wrote up a story about how "The helicopters had skulls painted on them" and people pounded him with accusations of "lies" until he produced a photo of a Blackhawk with a Grim Reaper stenciled on it, then the accusations turned to "Well you exaggerated, that isn't a skull." The truth is that the dude wrote it like he saw it and the military fanboys didn't want to have their hero's portrayed in that light. So when I contacted my buddy about the article he wrote back that the critics had a few points about some parts could be misleading but that the content was true.
I learned a valuable lesson there, that truth usually lies between the extremes when it comes to reporting. I also know the CPT who was in charge of the Cav Troop here in Afghanistan that had the "Kill Squad" and I know the JAG Attorney who prosecuted one of the murderers. Ten years ago I would have been vehemently denying any wrongdoing up until conviction then I would have been convinced that they had been railroaded. Ten years ago I had been an NCO for a year and was just another E5 going through SFAS (24 day non-select), what did my opinion count for?
People want to think that their Special Operations Community is filled with highly skilled warriors who kill the bad and protect the good, that the regular Army Soldiers enlisted because of a deep need to serve. In reality our SOCOM machine here in Afghanistan just killed two women who were members of a Senators household because their targeting is no better than 50% and most of our "Army Warriors" enlist because they need a job.
Michael Yon may indeed be a narcissistic glory hound. I don't really care. If you want to post comments on what a loser Michael Yon is be my guest. But being an uncritical fan of the military is every bit as stupid as being an uncritical critic of Michael Yon. And as far as suggested reading, history may not repeat itself, but it rhymes. LT Cally had protesters protesting the Government because they thought it was political interference with military affairs and that the fedgov should just let the military do what it does. It is the same cat fight now as it was back then, except now we have Al Gore's internet to let me waste time when I should be sleeping.