Thursday, September 11, 2008

Journey to the center of the world

American flag near a Russian checkpoint in Central Georgia

Today we welcome Michael J. Totten to the blogroll. Just found him via Michael Yon, and I'm glad I took the time.

Like Yon, Totten has been to more dangerous and interesting places than most mainstream media stars combined, usually alone and armed only with laptop and digital camera. Which he puts to good use chronicling a few facts you won't find in the MSM either.
"Someone planted an American flag on the side of the road.

'Look at that,' Goltz said.

It isn't likely that an American planted that flag."
His journey from Azerbaijan to as far inside South Ossetia as mohawked militia men would let him is a great read.
"...The road was otherwise empty until we came upon another Russian checkpoint. Two soldiers stood next to an armored personnel carrier and a Russian flag they had erected on a pole. The American flag we had passed earlier was perhaps only five miles behind us. An American flag and a Russian flag were planted just a few minutes away from each other inside a third country. Georgia felt like the center of the world."
The piece covers everything from the finer points of travel by old Soviet rail in Georgia to the gay porn requirements of surviving modern Russian military training.

He definitely has a gift for putting the reader right there with him.

"The irregulars were not wearing full uniforms, but they were armed with rifles and had unsheathed hunting knives tucked into their belts. Unlike the uniformed Russians, these two had blonde hair and blue eyes. ... One had shaved his head over his ears and wore what looked like a wide mohawk. He was built like a heavyweight wrestler.

I did not even think of taking their picture. These men narrowed their eyes and stared holes through me. They looked distinctly like psychopaths, as though they wanted to kill us and only didn't because they did not have permission. They said nothing and kept back a bit from some of the uniformed Russians, as though they weren’t the ones in charge, but I knew it was time to leave when one of them wrapped his fingers around the hilt of his blade."

Not that we met anyone like that, but the whole piece reminds me of the time my family smuggled relief supplies to persecuted Christians into Eastern Bloc countries in the mid '80s.

Yes, make no mistake. The Soviet Union is alive and well. Totalitarianism, Islamic and otherwise, is still on the march. And thanks to American efforts as a beacon of freedom in the Middle East -- contrary to all that "diminished in the eyes of the world" talk the Left uses for political gain -- oppressed people the world over look to America for justice as much as they ever have.

Another interesting nugget...
"Georgia was one of the most pro-American countries in the world even before Russia invaded. According to Gallup International's 2004 survey of global opinion, the world's most pro-American countries, in the following order, were Kosovo, Afghanistan, Israel, and Georgia."
Do tell.

Click here for the whole piece.

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