03 June 2007


New York City blogger Steve Gilliard, author and editor of the News Blog, died yesterday after a months-long, heart-related illness. He was just 41 years old.

In an early 2003 post at DailyKos he wrote:

"Iraq is a place where outcomes matter. In 1920, two years after WW I, a nationwide rebellion erupted, and when asked, they’re still mad at the British for invading and staying. In 1991, the minute Saddam looked on the ropes, the knives came out. Now, we’ve created a black hole of a power vacuum. There is no one close to running the country. The Army is gone, the Baathists dying by the bucketload, the various factions are waiting to claim their stake.

"Yet, I’m reading articles crowing about how well the war went. The problem is that deposing Saddam is like dumping the Czar in 1917. Just because you establish a democratic government, doesn’t mean Kerensky is going to stay in power. If you had said in 1916 that the US would be in Russia until 1920, fighting communists, you would have been deemed a madman.

"Just because Saddam was an evil bastard, doesn’t mean his methods were ineffective. He kept control of a country with millions of guns and two active factions not dedicated to the territorial integrity of the country. He killed a lot of people to remain in power. The US does not have this option. The war alone has ruined the credibility of the US in the Arab World. Saddam’s methods are not available.

"The US war against Saddam may soon be over, but that may only be the start of the Iraq war. There are millions of guns, rockets and mortars, billions of rounds of ammo, scattered across the country. No one knows who controls them or what they have planned. The Shia want control of their destiny, as do the Kurds, and the Sunnis may not be happy to lose power."

Gilliard was a man who understood the ways of the world and human behavior. He was a history buff. A chef. A sage. But more than any of those things, he was a fine writer possessed of simple, informed common sense -- and he wasn't afraid to say exactly what he thought. The world could use more good people like him. With his passing, America has lost a great American.

May his spirit join the cosmic starstuff and his memory -- and lucid, no-nonsense words -- remain as bright as the dazzling shooting star he was.

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