Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, December 16, 2011

End of an era

As those of you who have checked out the sidebar know, I have for many years contributed to the blog Iraq Today. When I first started, it was called Today in Iraq (it's a long story why we had to change) and it was one of the most heavily trafficked blogs on foreign affairs. We were linked from Atrios and Riverbend and I regularly got e-mails from everyone from Iraqi officials to U.S. army publicists to reporters and pundits complaining about stuff I had said about them. We also heard from military, military spouses and war widows, usually to thank us but sometimes to accuse us of disloyalty because they didn't think it was possible to simultaneously support the troops and oppose the war.

As Iraq faded from the consciousness of Americans, so did the attention people paid to Today in Iraq. But we kept it going, because we felt it still ought to matter to English speaking readers, particularly Americans (although we have had contributors from Europe and readers from all over the world).

Today, the U.S. handed over its last remaining base to Iraqi control and ended its military operations in the country. I still care as much as ever about the long-suffering people of Iraq, and I still believe that the United States bears some responsibility for their future, but our armed forces will no longer be involved. That's what we've been advocating for from the beginning. I am very glad about it, although I look to the future in Iraq with great concern. There's not much good news these days so I'll take what I can get.

So this marks a bit of a change in my life as well. The blog will become Today in Afghanistan, and I will henceforth spend more time studying that country and its troubles. I am not abandoning Iraq -- I'll check in on it every Sunday -- but it will be a weaker tie, something like a friend who has moved out of town, I suppose. Anyway, I hope you'll look in on Today in Afghanistan as Whisker and I develop the site and our style of aggregating and commenting on the news from that country.

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"Michael Muskat"