24 January 2007

The Sandbox

I learned this afternoon of a pretty remarkable undertaking initiatedd by Gary Trudeau, the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip. It is a blog, started last October, called The Sandbox which serves as a digest for posts from "miliblogs" kept by men and women serving in the U.S. military. A quick look suggests that most of the posts are from personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a remarkable undertaking because it provides a forum for those of us not fighting for our country to hear from those who are doing so. In that sense Trudeau affords us an opportunity to listen to voices that typically remain far beyond hearing distance.

Given Trudeau's liberal predilections you might be suspiscious that this is an "anti-war" undertaking, but that seems not to be the case. It instead is a forum where we can learn from the expereinces and reflections our military personnel. You may not trust my judgment on this, so here is an assessment from our right wing friends at the American Enterprise Institute:

"The Sandbox suffers from its somewhat pretentious self-description as "GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire" and reassurance to contributors that "all content, no matter how robust, is currently secured by the First Amendment." But the blog is excellent and probably serves as the best one-stop shopping option for most readers who are interested in sampling opinion from the field on a daily basis without having to wade through the morass of milblogs" (stress supplied).

Now, the folks at AEI may not be as concerned about the 1st Ammendment as they perhaps ought to be, but that is unsurprising. I simply want to say that this is a fabulous idea and Trudeau should be lauded for providing this forum.

PS: (Added later that same day). It turns out that Trudeau has gotten some good press in the mainstream newsmedia as well as at The Nation and Mother Jones (see the interview with him in the Jan-Feb '07 issue). In the former he is quoted as saying
"I think the wars are just too remote for people's minds ... They see two, three minutes on the evening news, maybe, if they don't look away."

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