Military Blogs: The First Pages of History

As an instructor of online history courses, I have many students overseas (Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, Saudi Arabia). The Internet connects them to me (and to the rest of us). The stories I could relate are fascinating and make teaching online courses all the more rewarding. Moreover, as an instructor I know that I’m helping those who are “American, Interrupted”

Even more important, soldiers of all ranks have blogged their way into history, thus writing what we used to say of newspapers: “the first pages” of history.

Read the following from the above “American, Interrupted” blog:

“I look up at the now familiar Arabian night sky and gaze at the stars, my close friends over this past year. Those same stars will ever hang in the sky and endure – like our love. Under those same points of light we’ll lay not too long from now, and those stars will smile just for us, because they know how long we’ve wished upon them to be together again. I love you, I’m so thankful for you, and I can’t wait to spend forever with you.

Sometimes I wondered if we were not unintentionally promoting anarchy because of this war on terror. I mean, we were encouraging and supporting rebellious elements of the population in their struggle against Saddam Hussein – thinking their struggle was one to free themselves of his rule. Sometimes I wondered if the struggle was to free themselves of all rules so they could establish a Shia theocracy. That would explain why Americans were in the crosshairs of Shia rebels. Many of them comprised the poorest and worst educated parts of Iraq, but it was these very people who we were making the masters of Iraq in the period of a year. This belief in empowering the weak and oppressed is noble, but it has to be done carefully. Sometimes it seemed the transfer of power bordered on a form of Bolshevism.”

That corporal’s blog made it into a video and Sundance Festival. For those interested in military blogging, the best one-stop database is There is always pressure to restrict blogging but the degree of freedom is somewhat remarkable given our policies in past wars.

But on to the heart of my story: Through the Independent Institute’s email and blog, I found Rich Stowell (actually, he found me!). After much interesting correspondence, I asked permission for this Oakland, California scholar-soldier to disseminate his blog address. SPC Rich Stowell (Public Affairs Correspondent) has a lot to say about freedom, war, and the socialistic style of Army bureaucracy. A stickler for grammar, I am sure he will point out my split infinitives but he spends more time skewering inane army sayings. Read here. Or describing the Animal Farm image he has of the Army. Obviously, this is NOT my father’s military!

Thanks go to Rich for reading my book Race and Liberty in America, and for keeping us up on the world “over there.” Rich is due back in two months — godspeed.

Stowell introduces himself

“As a proud member of the United States military, I see the power that we wield around the world. Our power is not in our arms, though, it is in our ideas and way of life. Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors are ambassadors of the American Way of Life, based on the U.S. Constitution. Our service men and women ought to know it and live it. Furthermore, the best defense of our freedoms is provided by dedicated citizens who know exactly what they are sacrificing for.”

To read his blog, go to

Jonathan Bean is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of History at Southern Illinois University, and editor of the Independent book, Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader.
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