Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Abu Muqawama goes dark

To the disappointment of a legion of followers, friend of Ink Spots Andrew Exum has called time on his day-to-day involvement with the blog. Says Ex:
I may have a certain talent for writing clever 200-word blog posts and offering sound bites on television, but I enjoy neither doing so nor the effects of doing so. In my heart, I would much rather do research, read more books, play more rugby and take on a more active role in my community than be some public figure sprinting from television interview to radio spot, twittering in the cab along the way.

So how will this blog change? First off, let me tell you how it will stay the same. This blog will remain an active website hosted by CNAS, and it will remain a home for Londonstani's awesome field reports from such dangerous places as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the ends of the Victoria Line. Second, I aim to use this blog in a different way than I have so far done. I look to friends like Marc Lynch and Reidar Visser and admire the way they use their blogs to highlight ongoing academic and policy research. I aim to do the same, which means you can expect me to post far less often but in a more considered way.

I don't think it's going to come as a surprise when I tell you that Abu Muqawama was the inspiration for this blog; it's probably even fair to say that we're a derivative site. Each of our contributors was once a frequent commenter on Ex's blog, and it's fair to say that we wouldn't know each other today (much less be friends) if it hadn't been for the outstanding forum that those threads provided.

When we decided to start our own pseudo-COIN blog, it was mostly to try to fill a void: Ex had gone to Afghanistan for the summer, and Abu Muqawama had started to suffer some of the ill effects of his increasing visibility (with the attendant spike in readership and, unfortunately, increasingly inane commentary from the fleet of unpleasant "Visitor"s). None of us had any illusions about matching AM's readership, but we all agreed that a best-case scenario would be to produce content and dialogue that came close to approximating the old brown-and-green blog. We still have that to aspire to.

So anyway: thanks, Ex. And, yeah, practice rugby more.


  1. Does anybody else remember the days back when Abu Muqawama was the anti-establishment center of the security sphere, when nobody knew who AbuM actually was? Does anybody else remember Kip using the blog to rant about that "forgotten war", Afghanistan?

    My, how things change.

    I too miss the old Green-and-Brown. Here is to hoping you guys can bring it back.

  2. Guy -- I'm going to delete your comment, but so as to perhaps forestall your imminent bleating about censorship and conspiracy, here's an explanation:

    1) You have your own blog. I'm not interested in what you're selling, but maybe other people are. Unfortunately, we're not a paid advertiser, and I don't find your work there compelling enough to commend you to others. Pitch your stories there.

    2) Andrew Exum is a friend of mine. Our site won't be used to cast aspersions on his character or his integrity. If you feel that he has things to answer for, then that's fine; pose the questions in your own space.

    I don't have any problem dealing with contrary opinions -- hell, Ex and I disagree about a great deal -- but I'm not going to play host to the personal dramas of others. Your Tillman concerns have been addressed by others on AM; if that hasn't been done to your satisfaction and you feel your crusade must continue, then I encourage you to continue it... on your own blog.

  3. Well put Gulliver. Completely agree.

  4. Entirely too many productive days began with trips to AM and a cup of coffee. My only real feeling at the moment is that of distinct loss.

    Beyond perfection is destruction…

  5. Entirely too many productive days began with trips to AM and a cup of coffee. My only real feeling at the moment is that of distinct loss.

    Start here instead! [/shameless self-pimping]

  6. Yeah, I used to really like those Kip posts, too...oh, well. It's fine to promote this blog - it's a good one.

  7. I visited and occasionally left brief comments - but generally only on threads that were only halfway serious. I think he chose a good time to call it quits. Most of his content was quickly becoming just the same thing worded differently each day. I found your site a few months ago one of your comments (I forget which one of you) via AM and I think you're well on your way, if not already there, to filling whatever void you think he left.

  8. "I think you're well on your way, if not already there, to filling whatever void you think he left."

    I don't. AM wasn't a COIN theory blog or one where insightful distilled summaries of COIN-ish news was posted, if actual content is what defines this.

    Personally I think this is a great COIN blog, KOW is a great military-as-learning-institution blog, Eastern Campaign is a great Afg history blog and Registan is hands down the best read anywhere on those regions.
    AM was nowhere near as good as any of these on their respective content, but that wasn't his.

  9. Kilo,
    We're in agrement. My impression is that the author had a much higher opinion of the AM blog. I think this blog has achieved that higher standard (whereas the AM blog never did, imo).

  10. Out of curiosity, when did you guys start reading the AM blog? Perhaps the blogosphere was just emptier back then, but in the old days of green-and-tan (and even before that, for those who remember the old template), I found it to be one of the best resources on the web. The outfit was helped by the high number of its contributors (at its highest there were five authors with different specialties) who each had their own special areas of interest, and were able to keep the blog's content up to standards in Ex's absence.

    No, the AbuM I remember was the best website out there on Iraq, military reform, and the then forgotten Afghanistan. The comment threads alone were worth more than a read through the daily NYT! It was the first blog I ever began to check daily.

    That blog is gone now. The quality of AbuM went down long ago - even before its move to CNAS (a jumping of the shark, IMHO.)

    So as I said earlier- the best of luck crafting as good a site as AbuM used to be. The hole in the blogosphere brought about by AbuM's deterioration needs to be filled.

    Oh, and by the way, welcome to my blogroll.

  11. The first blog I left comments at was the old LWJ. The next mil blog I started reading was Abu Muqawama. It was for two years the best blog out there.

    Too bad some nutbags in the comment section freaked out the Mom and girlfriend. His comments section was the best in blogosphere.

    One of the reasons I liked the AM comment section was SNLII.