YouTube and the war in Iraq

*Cross posted here*

Michael Yon is an American author currently based in Iraq.

You can read more about him here and here.

He represents an important voice in the Iraq conflict. Though an ex-special forces soldier, his work offers a unique viewpoint on the war. He reports are almost always pro-military, though in traditional style, not always pro-authority.

This morning, whist reading this post, I realised that Yon’s work is in many ways, grounding breaking.

His latest post is simple. It praises an American officer, pointing out that:

‘Leaders such as Rakene Lee, LTC Doug Crissman, LTC Fred Johnson, LTC Erik Kurilla and Colonel Townsend —all of whom have a very strong grasp on how to win this war—are increasingly easy to find because the Army and Marines have morphed to meet this war.’

This is standard stuff. Yet, what sets it aside was this link, tucked away at the end of the post. It takes you straight to YouTube and a video taken by Yon (I assume) of the Marine he was writing about in operations. It shows him orchestrating the clearing of a tunnel. The pragmatic bravery is almost palpable. But this isn’t my point. The video represents something new in war reporting. The use of democratic Internet tools, such as Youtube, gives the viewer a direct, unedited, uncensored feedback on just what’s happing in Iraq. It is a day-to-day portrayal of a soldier’s war. Sure, Yon has his own agenda. However, the ease at which this material can be accessed by the general public, gives Yon, and anyone else with an ‘agenda’, a platform.