Steven Pressfield Blog
The following is a guest post from Michael Yon, which we’re really privileged to get and which I’m delighted to share. As I type this, Michael is reporting from Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Check out Michael Yon Online Magazine to read his reports. Michael is a former Green Beret, who has reported from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004. No other reporter has spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars. It is also important to note that Michael is an independent combat journalist—unaffiliated with any other news organization—and among the best of this generation of reporters.
[This is “Writing Wednesdays,” #3. Our winner–of a signed copy of The War of Art–is David Cutshall. Here’s the fave quote he sent in: “Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some idea of what we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” Thanks, David! The following takes off from there.]
Remember the Bizarro World, from Seinfeld and Superman comics? Everything is its opposite in the Bizarro World. Up is down, black is white, in is out. Students of Counterinsurgency (COIN) and Tribal Engagement tell us it’s the same in their field. Who would have thought, for example, that killing bad guys would be a no-no? Or that a good old-fashioned grease-the-palm payoff would prove as effective as “winning hearts and minds?”
This week’s Mashup features jumps back and forth, between the past and present.
In the videos (and posts) on this site, we’ve talked about the characteristics of tribes and the tribal mindset. Among these are respect for elders, hostility to outsiders, the obligation of revenge, a code of honor rather than a system of laws, hospitality, capacity to endure hardship and the suppression of women. These qualities appear to be universal, or nearly so, across all continents during all periods of history. They seem to hold true for Native Americans, Africans and Amazonians, ancient Celts and Gauls, Scottish highlanders and the savage tribes that fought Alexander, Cyrus and Xenophon.
Announced this morning: Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti will be awarded the Medal of Honor.
I’m going to try something new on Wednesdays from now on, which is to post pieces that are not about tribalism or Afghanistan, but about writing. This is #1. The subject is professionalism. If you’ve read my book The War of Art, you know that I view professionalism not only as an asset and obligation commercially and artistically (or even as a sign of respect for yourself and your readers), but almost as a spiritual practice. It’s my mantra and my touchstone. It has saved my life, personally as well as professionally.
Thank you for your Weekend Mashup suggestions. A few of the blogs I’ve been introduced to this week include Global Guerrillas, Ink Spots, Sosh-P and Building Peace. When I saw T.X. Hammes mentioned in Building Peace’s July 13 post, I was sold. All four are great blogs. Suggest you visit if they are new to you.
By Mark Safranski—aka “Zenpundit” Steven Pressfield invited me to do a guest post here at “Tribes” and give my assessment of the vigorous debate that greeted the entry of “It’s the Tribes, Stupid: War & Reality in Afghanistan” into the blogosphere. Or, at least the corner of the blogosphere that is concerned with COIN, military affairs, foreign policy, terrorism, Afghanistan and Iraq. The following opinion is my own and does not necessarily reflect that of Mr. Pressfield.
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