Michael's Dispatches

Even While the World Watched: Part I


Near Lumpini Park, Bangkok. (May 2010)

Michael Yon
20 June 2010
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Recent violence focused world attention on the Kingdom of Thailand.  As the attention flowed in, foreigners poured out, even though fighting was tightly localized and not focused on travelers.  Tourists literally had to search for trouble to find it.  Of course, some did.

Like other famous countries, Thailand seems to be annotated in peoples’ minds by a single footnote.  This is akin to trying to describe the contents of an Encyclopedia using a single, all-encompassing sentence.  If asked, many people might summarize Americans as rich, arrogant, imperialistic Christians, while we might describe ourselves as peaceful, freedom-loving and generous to a fault.  Likewise, Thailand wears its own name tag – especially so in the touristy areas – yet intricate realities of both countries naturally defy broad strokes.

Thailand is big, considerably larger than California by area, while its 64 million people approximate the combined populations of Florida, North Carolina and California.  This complex country, with its intriguing history, is saddled with commensurate politics, and would require an expert to attempt explanation.   Jabs at down-in-the-weeds “analysis” by most foreigners, and most Thai people, will yield quackery.  Unfortunately, knowledge has never been prerequisite for strong opinion.

Rama IV near Dusit Thani and Pan Pacific Hotels, Bangkok. (May 2010)

Like most countries, Thailand has its share of social woes.  Yet knowing that your baby is ill, what is actually wrong, and how to cure it are three separate matters, and when it comes to politics, consensus reality is rarely burdened by mere facts or stunning insight.  For example, during ten trips into Nepal, I talked with people who fully realized that their government was malformed, and yet they set about curing it by donning the cloak of Nepalese Maoism.  It remains to be seen if the cure will be worse than the original disease.

While in Afghanistan, I watched with growing alarm the news coming from Thailand, having first sensed a potential civil war growing in 2008.  Something changed.  Or at least I felt it for the first time.  There was a subtle but unmistakable bite in the air.  The first time I felt that bite was in what is now the former Yugoslavia.  It was sharp and obvious to all.  In Thailand it was subtle, more like a nibble by comparison, but clear.

Red Shirt barricades, Bangkok.  (May 2010)

The better aspects of Thailand had grown on me, and so even from Afghanistan I kept up on news and messages from the Kingdom.  From Afghanistan, I flew to Chiang Mai, whence these words are written, the very heart of the growing “Red Shirt” insurgency, and where the chill had first touched my sense in 2008.

Descriptions of the specific grievances and causations are bountiful and would be redundant and ill-informed if re-penned here.  Though I am aware of many thoughts and theories surrounding the Thai unrest, other observers are far more qualified to comment.  Interested readers will have no problem finding endless sources.  Some facts are obvious: in April, tens of thousands of Red Shirt protestors had poured out of mostly northern and northeastern Thailand into Bangkok, seizing key municipal terrain equivalent to Times Square in New York City.  Protestors’ demands shifted and would require many words to describe.  In short, they want a new government.  The aggrieved apparently are being supported by ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire accused of corruption of billionaire proportions.

Politically, the closer one looks the more complicated it becomes.  Words are confusing while actions speak clearly.  So for now, let’s step back and look at the punches that are being thrown, and not why they are being thrown.  The fist leads back to the arm and the arm leads to the motivation.

One of closest hotels to the action that was still open was the Dusit Thani, just next to the Red Shirt barricades.  There had been fighting and recent fatalities nearby, so I checked into the Dusit Thani on 12 May 2010.  From the balcony, the Red Shirt camp was visible down below across a four-lane highway called Rama IV.  About two-dozen had been killed in recent weeks.  I happened to show up just before the big fighting.

Barricades on Rama IV, just in front of Dusit Thani Hotel, after the Army attacked through.

In the morning, I had breakfast at the 5-star Dusit Thani and then walked across the street to the Red camp, entered with no dramas through an opening in the barricades, and began to walk among the Reds.  The Reds had built medieval-looking barricades from car and truck tires, including long bamboo spikes, concertina wire and other obstacles.  The barriers looked treacherous and difficult.  In reality, the barricades made for great, dramatic photos while being militarily inconsequential.

Maybe five thousand protestors were spread over several kilometers, and though many had been there for over a month sleeping rough, spirits seemed high.  No weapons were visible other than slingshots, though I now accept as fact (following upon later experiences) reports that violent instigators had been firing 40mm grenades and other weapons, as well as exploding large fireworks.

The encampment, occupied by maybe 5,000 people, was surrounded by Thai Army with a large interstice of no man’s land.  (It wasn’t entirely no man’s land; I and many other people traveled through frequently, although it was never a good place to linger for tea.) However, politics get tricky here.  Many or even most of the soldiers come from backgrounds that might make them favorable to the protestors, and so, striking the Reds with the Army hammer, might in theory cause the hammer to shatter.  The more militant among the protestors, the so-called Men in Black, were believed to have been (or are) elite Thai soldiers.

After the breach near Lumpini Park just across from Dusit Thani Hotel.

Flocks of journalists – local and international – had descended into the conflict zone, and the flocks naturally brought the toxic guano of consensus journalism, and also great physical danger for the journalists, which danger could be deceiving in Bangkok.  Comparing the difficulty of covering conflict in Thailand to Afghanistan or Iraq is to compare pebbles to boulders.  The entrance obstacles to Iraq and Afghanistan will eliminate probably 99% of the international press from any meaningful, long-haul coverage.  By contrast, many international correspondents live in Thailand.  CNN correspondent, Dan Rivers, reported that he and his family had to evacuate their residence because the fighting was so close.  Covering Bangkok is no more difficult than covering Washington D.C., and in fact Bangkok might be easier when considering visa issues.  And so, in my particular case, I was staying in the Dusit Thani Hotel, which was actually in the battle zone.  My balcony was a front row seat to some fighting, which meant you could die there, so I seldom went onto the balcony, but sometimes watched from within the darkened room.  In fact, I was talking on the phone when a grenade exploded three floors above me.  You could eat a fine lunch or dinner and literally one minute later walk outside and be in the fight.  It was bizarre.  During some fighting, I was out in the shooting, just 150 meters from my room; made some photos and walked back into the hotel, took the elevator to my room, uploaded images to Facebook, and within minutes walked back outside.

I had arrived in Bangkok literally just in time for the main events and despite what must have been hundreds of journalists already there, suddenly my work was all over Thailand, as had happened with my reports from Iraq and Afghanistan.  The sudden notoriety was unexpected -- I expected to be a face in the crowd -- but shortly thereafter I took an exclusive trip with the Prime Minister of Thailand, Abhisit Vejjajiva.  And so this, and the next dispatch or two, is meant to describe what I witnessed, in order to set the context of my private conversation on a jet with the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand.

Most interesting was that even while the world watched they were again mislead by consensus journalism.


Say something here...
You are a guest ( Sign Up ? )
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paul Jackson · 11 years ago
    While I've only had the opportunity to meet Thais superficially at the Atlanta Olympics, even their boxers had a strong air of being gentle and jovial people. It's hard not to wish them well and hope that their social problems are resolved with no more than a bruised ego here and there.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Zoe Goetz · 11 years ago
    Michael, I have not read all your articles, but reading this one in isolation is very misleading if what you trying to describe are the facts on the ground as they happened. There may have been more detail on your FB page but I wasn't going to take the time to scroll all the way down to it.

    I was in BKK from Nov 11 until May 4. First of all, your description (and phot makes it look and sound like Rama IV was the main rally site. The main rally site was at Rachidamri Rd. in the middle of the 5 star hotels and high end malls with more than 100,000 (some estimates were more) at the peak with people sleeping on mats in the street in front of the main rally stage. "I had arrived in Bangkok literally just in time for the main events..." Huh? "I happened to show up just before the big fighting." The "big fighting" didn't just start at the Saladeang/Rama IV intersection that you pictured. You barely mentioned April 10 and then only by inference. Even though you weren't there you could have at least summarized the altercation (for first time readers) that started with the April 10 battle at the main rally site that left over 25 demonstrators, several soldiers and a Japanese journalist dead.

    After the April 10 battle a second site was set up at Rama IV. Over the month the demonstrators spilled much of the way from Rachidamri to the Saladeang/Rama IV business district with people camping in the streets along the way. Huge video screens were set up about every 50 yards (as you would have seen if you had walked it) so people could see what was going on on the main stage. Then the fighting in the business district started, minor by comparison to April 10 and the battles after Rama IV) just after you arrived in BKK. Then spread into other locations in the city. Just sayin'.

    I smell a great deal of self-promotion in your writing and very little description. Made me wonder. Careful writing is the mark of a good journalist as you well know.

    Your comments in general about the complexity of it, as far as I understand it, was right on, however.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon Author · 11 years ago
    Deep breath, Zoe.

    That was Part I, and clearly said so. You mentioned leaving on May 4. The most serious fighting had not started yet. I was all over that area and might have taken a thousand photos from end to end. Thanks for the lecture about how it was set up. Not needed.

    Am aware that serious fighting occurred on April 10th. My readership includes many very intelligent people and they don't always get spoon fed, or expect it.

    Careful research is a sign of a good journalist. If you happen to be a journalist, you should know by now that I have never been a journalist.

    Deep breath. Relax.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matthew Gonzalez · 11 years ago
    Mr. Yon, It may just be that my page didn't load everything, but I don't see this saying Part I anywhere on the dispatch? Also the line of "never being a journalist" is a double edged sword. I'd say any man smart and powerful enough to help start an investigation that would eventually bring down a corrupt general is certainly worthy of the title of a modern muckraker, even if that man was never trained as a journalist or reporter. I could say more, but you know from your own experiences much more about personal credit and responsibility than I could ever hope to write, so that's all I'll say.

    Zoe you're right that this post seems more centered on Michael's experience of the events, and I guess by extension a bit more self-promoting than most reports on Thailand, but he usually doesn't write from the 1st person. The few times he has, I personally liked the results. I'm not particularly up to date with global news (Can't get detailed news from every corner of the Earth from an aggregator site, now can you?) but I appreciate a personalized perspective on what happened, even if in the entire scope of events it's not the best picture.

    Can't wait for part II.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Caleb Hollis · 11 years ago
    Apparently, you guys are unable to read the Part I directly underneath the Title. I saw it immediately upon reading this. Michael, great article, keep it coming!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Amy · 11 years ago
    Zoe and Matthew, your inability to see "Part I" in the dispatch's title makes me question your attention to detail -- and the quality of your comments.

    Zoe, by writing "...I wasn't going to take the time to scroll all the way down to it," you make me wonder why we should take the time to read your comment.

    Michael, thank you again for your first-hand perspective from a seasoned observer, analyst and communicator.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 11 years ago
    It amazes me how DOLTS come in here and negatively comment (deconstruction?), trash Michael and then act as if THEY are pontificates of the truth. When in fact most, if not all, are a bunch of cowards who run for heavy cover a mile away at the first gun shots and then report as if they where "on the scene".

    Probably all voters for the Obomination!

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gregg · 11 years ago
    I to saw the "Part 1" in the title plus the statement in the last paragraph: " the next dispatch or two, is meant to describe what I witnessed, in order to set the context of my private conversation".

    Selective reading is a sure sign of those whos primary intent is to be critical.

    It would have been much more informative and positive had Zoe given his/her observations in the scope of adding to Michael's article. Then we would have place a high level of crediabilityy to Zoe. Now however, we will always be suspect of whatever Zoe says as his/her true nature has been exposed.

    As a long time reader of Michael's articles and FB I know that if I wait and watch closely Michael will build a full picture of the situation.

    Zoe, you have to be aware that it is not possible to present 15 pages of information in one dispatch as it would take too much time to prepare and to traceback plus coordinate all of the relivent information (typically known as fact checking).

    Long time readers like Michael's style as we know from experience that:
    1) He tells us what he can and does hold back info that could harm others;
    2) He tells the truth in what he can tell;
    ) He never runs from a good on-line discussion no matter how critical it is of his work;
    4) We know he doesn't have a hidden agenda. He always tells us his agenda up front for all to see and he doesn't play it softly. He tells it like it is.

    Like Michael says: Relax and take a breath

    Become part of the solution and contribute good solid info. Right now you are perceived as part of the problem with tunnel vision hypocrites.

    Keep up the great work Michael. We love you. Today is PayPal Day.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Harry P · 11 years ago
    I look forward to future dispatches. I too noticed the Part 1 without straining.

    I spent a good bit of time working in Thailand about 15 years ago. I loved the country and the people I met there, and hope they can get to peace and freedom some day. But even back then, I had a sense that the only force holding the country together despite its internal contradictions was the King, for whom I had the greatest respect. Now he is pretty much out of the picture, and I think meltdown is inevitable.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 11 years ago
    Maybe not, but you outta get some sort of high award for aptly describing the lamestream media, "the toxic guano of consensus journalism"!

    Taken out of context, you decide!

    Taken in context, BRILLIANT!

    Keep on NOT being a JoUrNaLiSt, please!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    CrzyHrse · 11 years ago
    Yo Mike, did you make the Pattaya trip? I was there damn shoulda let me know I woulda had a cadre of clam waiting!! Enjoy urself Mike, coz I did. Do you prefer LT to ST? Hey, you got long money Mike, bet you had the finest of suites..and sweets..lol!!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Valerie · 11 years ago
    Hi Michael...just to let you know...read your work with enthusiasm and appreciate you present all possible, when possible, as accurately as possible, doing no harm if possible. This is one of many reasons you have a following any writer would envy. It IS great to see your acceptance of another's views and love the lively read in the comment section. You are wise to obviously understand another view can be invigorating and inspiring, if incorrect at times.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    peter · 11 years ago
    I lived in Bangkok in my youth from mid-sixties to around the late eighties. I remember the revolutions in those times, in particular the day we arrived in school and the security guard was waving all the cars out as the nations schools had all been closed. We basically stayed at home and watch TV & read newspapers, staying out of trouble. Years later I went shooting with some general (my Dad was a big shot) and his wife told me that her husband had been a sniper in one of the student revolutions and had shot 8 (or 12, I forget) students. He was unable to continue and asked his superiors to transfer him.
    I particularly enjoyed the shoot since he lent me an army HK to take home for a few days. In our social circles (upper middle class I suppose) we didn't have interest in these things, and just waited them out. We are still like that, we just want peace and quiet to make a living and dislike the "revolutions" that change nothing.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike & Fuanglada · 11 years ago
    As [21+ years] husband to my lovely Thai wife & friend to her family... [divided both sides] ... I cry for this nice country...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    William Todd · 11 years ago
    Please edit for clarity.

    First, Thank you Michael for your long term and unrelenting reporting. As always I support your efforts.

    My wife and I made a trip to Thailand from 2 to 14 May. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, the Thai people and the land.

    That said my comments need a time line and itinerary to make sense to those who have not been to Thailand recently.

    In the run up to the trip we were getting to be concerned about what was going on in Thailand. In a lingering thread our news organizations, any of them, did not give Americans - and from others that we talked to in Thailand - mainly Oz - a real sense of what was happening in Thailand. As you so rightly report - things are not as what is reported. So here's my report. It complements yours.

    We arrived in Bangkok at about 9:00 pk (all times are local) and got to our hotel. I'm not naming commercial places (if any one want's to know go to traveladvisor), but it was on the river next to an International School. The hotel was deserted. We were among the 20 or so guests in a 25 story hotel - 16 rooms per floor. Strange being in a 5 star with no one else.

    We traveled with our guide to the "Bridge on the River Quai" Had a wonderful time.

    The second day we flew to Chaing-Mai to stay at a hotel on the river. Excellent.

    Three days later we took a bus to Chaing-Rai. Stayed at an excellent hotel

    But here things started to focus. We talked with the hotel General Manager, a Scotswoman, who told us that they were about 20% full. Can't run a business on that model.

    Four days later we drove back to Chaing-Mai, spent a night, flew to Bangkok and started our 1 hour trip home.

    That's the context for you Michael.

    To the specific situation.

    To Westerners colors have meaning, i.e., Red is left, Black is something, Yellow is something else. Well, in Thailand the days of the week have colors. Sunday is Red, Monday is Yellow, etc. Something happened on a Sunday, thus the Red Shirts. The King was born on Monday, thus the yellow shirts. Black shirts, I'm not sure.

    Context is everything. You give us context and I'm adding more context.

    I've left a lot out of this. Our visits with the Hill Tribes, especially the Karins, our visit to the Black Temple and the White Temple our visit ti the Gold (4500kg, yes 4500kg) Buddha made this one of our most memorable trips.

    For those of you who read this, go to Thailand - the Land of the Free.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Claude Hopper · 11 years ago
    I wouldn't be too harsh on Mr. Yon's BKK reporting. His stuff from Afghanistan was the only reports that gave on the ground detail; it was excellent. I even hit the tip jar when the immigration clowns hassled him in Seattle. However, I was surprised that he took on the brass in Afghanistan. I guess that's why he is reporting from BKK.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Judith · 11 years ago
    Everyone needs to take a deep breath...yes. Everyone.
    Reading the comments made me want to take a deep breath.
    And, Michael, you create a sounding board....and that has value. The photos speak many words and tell stories by themselves. Sometimes...less chatter is a good thing.
    I'm a retired English and Writing teacher....and I could red ink comments and contributions if I wanted to be that kind of critiic. It's in the veins after years and years of editing student papers. But....as I said...the photos tell the stories. Keep it up with the photos, Michael.
    I've followed you by being on your email list since I was given your site by an FRG member back in 06 while my son was in Anbar(a very long tour). And...I appreciated seeing all those photos then as well.
    Take care.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Donnette · 11 years ago
    *Waves to Miles* If I were in Thailand now I'd invite myself to join you both.. Great article - as always Michael - you allow the reader to experience your locations and experiences from your choice of words, and descriptions - AND the readers' interpretation. Your pictures as I've always maintained speak volumes on their own. I miss your usual regular dispatches, but you know you're always in my heart! xo
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lorenz Gude · 11 years ago
    I think Michael is correct to say he is not a journalist first and foremost because he does not practice consensus journalism. He simply is not fitting his experiences into the formulas, memes, and ready-made stereotypes that the news business and news profession use to process events witnessed into that easily recognizable product we call the news. Michael clearly and consciously breaks fundamental rules of journalism. He expresses emotion, describes the most subjective of personal experiences, gets indignant and risks his life and his livelihood to do what he thinks is right. He gets in hot water with the powers that be and does not go along to get along the way that most of us do. The result is something people find truly engaging and keep coming back for more. I know I do because even when I know I would probably see things differently I know I am getting Michael's take delivered with heart. So even if I think he misses I trust him, which is more than I can say for professional journalists.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Thomas · 11 years ago
    Kudos for Mr. Yon's personal passion and effort in reporting (you refer to your work as "reports" in this piece) your experience of events, but honestly, I did not read anything in Part 1 that I had not read in other sources, likewise for the photographs. I have not read your work covering the conflicts in Afganistan or Iraq - which may be groundbraking - but for this particular piece on Thailand, I am not learning anything new or exceptional. I'm puzzled why Mr. Yon distances himself from the profession of journalism but "accept as fact reports..." what reports are these? The piece reads as a compilation of experiences and photos as well as a reliance on (gasp) some secondary information. Is it fair to dispense with the integrity of all professional journalists? Mr. Yon seems to be painted by some posters as a non-journalist white knight. Non-corporate. Great. But Mr. Yon moved from amateur reporter to a professional reporter by creating income - monetary donations from readership and book sales to support his "traveling and reporting" endeavors. Mr. Yon does not escape the apparently dreaded label "journalist" simply because he has no such degree. This is not a 501(c) enterprise, correct? I understand the interest in trying to set himself apart by emphasizing his independence. Fair enough, but I sense an unfortunate rightiousness that is unappealing. I appreciate Mr. Yon's skepticism of news reporting sources - of course this is prudent and appropriately critical. I hope my critique can be appreciated and not reflexively defended. Good luck to you and all the journalists putting themselves in harm's way to report the facts.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    AyUaxe · 11 years ago
    Like it or not, Yon is a "journalist." He's publishing photographic and text "journals" of his travels and observations. Since he chooses to work at the point of the spear, he has some obligation to be objective and accurate. I think he generally, if not universally fulfills that obligation as well as humanly possible. I appreciated Zoe's take on the situation she observed. It also appeared pretty objective and detailed. I don't understand why it had to be couched in a critical tone, but that's her problem, not Yon's or mine. Thanks to all knowledgeable commenters and especially to Yon for giving those of us working in other parts of the world a clearer window on important events, places and people that our news agencies have inexeplicably ignored or left to partisan propagandists. As I think of it, it appears to be mainstream media (worldwide, not just U.S.) who are not "journalists," but cowardly, lazy fabulists.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeff Stanley · 11 years ago
    Thanks for the front row seat to the fascinating, not to mention important, events in Thailand.

    I know what you mean when you write, "As the attention flowed in, foreigners poured out, even though fighting was tightly localized and not focused on travelers. Tourists literally had to search for trouble to find it. Of course, some did."

    My Dad was an expatriate in Oaxaca, Mexico when a teachers strike escalated into a nine-month takeover of the city center by an assortment of union groups, anarchists, and communists. Despite a State Department warning and the fact that there was no police presence on the streets, my 16-year-old niece flew in during the middle of it, visited her grandad, and flew out -- no problems.

    The American blogger, who during a confrontation jumped up on a barricade to take a photograph, didn't fare so well. He was shot dead -- the only American hurt, and there's a sizable expat community there.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeff Stanley · 11 years ago
    ...where did all the haughty bullshitters posting on this thread come from? Why don't you people go POUND SAND.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon Author · 11 years ago
    Thomas -- please find my 501(c) listing and publish it.

    Thank you.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    weerana · 11 years ago
    Thank you for a news
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rick Johnson · 11 years ago
    To Zoe and the others who are critical of Mr Yon's work, GO POUND SAND. Until you have spent some "quality time" in the battle fields of the world as Mr Yon has, you have no room for your self righteous blather.

    I have spent time in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have found Mr Yon's photos and comments to be on the mark.

    Keep up the good work.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Daniel Welborn · 11 years ago
    Hi Michael, long-time reader, occasional tipper, interesting dispatch about Thailand, yet, I look forward to you being back in Afghanistan now that I hear your embed is back on. Seems that your recent celebrity in the media has brought out trolls in the comments, too bad, and yet, please don't take this personal, seems your style has changed a bit, you're more self-conscious as you write, a bit more pre-emptively defensive, or something, hard to describe. I hope you can shake off the stuff circling round in your mind, get centered again, and resume the beautiful just-the-facts-maam on-the-ground dispatches that honor the subjects of your dispatches with the truth and not too high a dose of opinion, defensiveness, or disclaimers. Either way, I follow your work with great interest and support. Keep up the good fight. Take care.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Margot · 11 years ago
    Hi -

    Love your use of photos to accentuate your writing. Testing the waters to launch into photojournalism? :-)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Thomas · 11 years ago
    Mr. Yon - I framed my question about your 501(c)( ) status as a question and I appreciate your reply. I checked the IRS's website and could not find a listing under Yon or Michael Yon. Under what name was it filed? (Or, is there another listing source you'd recommend.)

    Small Wars Journal published an excerpt by Matt Gallagher on Yon's work: "...I've read his stuff, and while it's a little preachy for my taste, it's generally a decent read." I agree with Mr. Gallagher on both points. I don't agree with Mr. Yon's throwing all professional journalists unde the bus (preachy), and I agree it IS a decent read.

    Mr. Stanley - Haughy bullshitters? Hmm. I see you don't like questions. It is a public sphere which means it is prone to discussion and not reserved for blind apologists, so I felt free to inquire in order to further my understanding. Skepticism is a healthy journalistic attribute and one Mr. Yon seems to advocate. I respect him for that, even though I may not agree entirely with his style. As I noted, I appreciate Mr. Yon's work and wish him well. Please join Mr. Gallagher and me for some sand pounding, we'll save a hammer for you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Zoe Goetz · 11 years ago
    I meant I left June 4. Rest still stands. Enjoy your fans Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    another Michael · 11 years ago
    It is a fair intro. I do not smell more self promo, than is customary.

    As far as hired pens, and the buttlermedia, I do not read them. They are mouthpieces, muzzled by myriads of interests.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    another Michael · 11 years ago
    One thing, I might add: I am Hungarian, but that again, that is my problem, just wanna give some perspective.

    There is an upheaval goin' on around the world. I do not believe, that there is a standing government, that is representing the interests of it's own peoples practically anywhere. The slogan, that the world is interconnected means just that - that governments around the globe are in bed with global "special interests", most of whom run the media of mass distraction . Not sayin', that this phenomena is new, but these days it is completely transparent and undeniable.

    We are indeed living in interesting times.

    I am looking forward to seeing Michael in Hungary - and elsewhere in Europe. The time is coming.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Deidre · 11 years ago
    For those searching for perfection, read Scripture (I'd recommend that under any circumstances). But those who have followed Mr. Yon's dispatches over the years don't expect perfection--perfect humility, perfect prose, though it's obvious his photos are perfect. What we expect is grit, a warrior spirit, truth-telling as he sees it, and courage. It's not easy facing non-constructive criticism. Mr. Yon more than likely doesn't care if readers agree with him thoroughly. I certainly do not on everything and there are times when he writes sharply. But that's him and it's OK and we love him for all the fine work he does to inform his readers. So if you feel a need to be critical today, stand back, take a breath, do a little redacting in order to criticize in an uplifting manner and go at it. Families who have military men and women in war zones appreciate Mr. Yon's take-it-to-'em writing and that he lives by a code of honor which is rare. God bless our troops, Mr. Yon's support of them, and God bless the America which stands by its unusual and courageous men.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    another Michael · 11 years ago
    That is another excellent point made by Deidre.

    We are indeed all involved, God only knows, but to ostensibly different degrees.

    For the ones, whose beloved ones are in the line of fire, Michael's work carries information, we, the rest are not familiar with - and neither should we...

    Or SHOULD we?

    Because those boys out there are our kin. My sons, My brothers, buddies, companions.

    That is how I look at it, even if I do not think, that they should be there...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    El Zeeko · 11 years ago
    I miss your dispatches. Your newfound interest in Facebook shows, no posts for several weeks! I miss the longer format, with photos and more context. Facebook is too scattershot - if I check it once every several days, I have no idea what you are posting on and have to read backwards to try to catch the thread. I know that Facebook is immediate gratification, and it is col to see the number of fans rack up, but you have a lot of readers that enjoy the longer format.
    I'll look forward to another photo-essay.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Hugh Jass · 11 years ago
    I think that Mr. Gude nailed it in his post above.

    He nailed it so well, that I am simply going to quote him, in the hope that more people will read what he said:

    "I think Michael is correct to say he is not a journalist first and foremost because he does not practice consensus journalism. He simply is not fitting his experiences into the formulas, memes, and ready-made stereotypes that the news business and news profession use to process events witnessed into that easily recognizable product we call the news. Michael clearly and consciously breaks fundamental rules of journalism. He expresses emotion, describes the most subjective of personal experiences, gets indignant and risks his life and his livelihood to do what he thinks is right. He gets in hot water with the powers that be and does not go along to get along the way that most of us do. The result is something people find truly engaging and keep coming back for more. I know I do because even when I know I would probably see things differently I know I am getting Michael's take delivered with heart. So even if I think he misses I trust him, which is more than I can say for professional journalists.
    Lorenz Gude , June 22, 2010"

    From my standpoint, the newly emerging field of Nonconsensual Reporting is wide open. Traditional journalists are losing their jobs in droves, as the old models of Old Media are abandoned by the billions thronging to the internet, and its innumerable voices that previously had no outlet.

    For myself, I hope that more talented amateurs enter the field, and develop expertise based on experience, and a recognizable "brand" that enables them to witness crucial events for the rest of the world.

    Old Media: your time is over.

    Long live New Media.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Dettmer · 11 years ago
    I agree with El Zeeko, above, Michael. When you make the shift to Facebook, Twitter, et.al., you'll leave a significant number of your readers behind. I personally just don't do those social networking sites, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I'm already in significant information/sensory overload, and I choose not to add to the pile.

    I do, however, read your dispatches religiously. And I miss seeing them as often as before. The regular dispatches may be more convoluted or difficult to post, but I think they're worth waiting for. Just my $0.02...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Johanna Stephens · 11 years ago
    I haven’t finished it all but eventually will. So good to have you back with boots on the ground as it were! I am hopeful that General Petraeus will fight to win, i.e., remove the crippling ROE.....if I am wrong on that score, please educate me.

    Like several other of your readers, I do not go to face book or twitter…..too much on my plate as it is….So will keep up with you via this method.

    Stay safe and stay well!

  • This commment is unpublished.
    dashia coled · 11 years ago
    kydedra brown live on 11th an concordia an a white house with her mother she has a puff ponytail an white dookies an she brown if u see her please call milwaukee police deparment 9111 an she is a duck
  • This commment is unpublished.
    PBateman · 11 years ago
    After avidly reading this site since the early years in Iraq I am now signing off.

    Yes Thailand is an interesting place and people do get obsessed with it, in particular some of its inhabitants, but the real issue remains the guys on the line in Afghanistan not a bunch of middle class activists paid to demonstrate by competing clans within the Thai ruling class.

    Goodluck with the SE Asian ventures and don't get talked into buying a bar on the beach.

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Many methods are available to keep the work rolling. Click the image for a more info.



Quick Link to Paypal

Recurring Donation

QR Code

QR Code


To support using Venmo, send to:


My BitCoin QR Code

Use the QR code for BitCoin apps:


Or click the link below to help support the next dispatch with bitcoins: