Roger L. Simon

Learning to live with victory: on Skype with Michael Yon

One of the great pluses of my job at PJM/Pajamas TV is I get to work with people like Michael Yon. Whenever I get an email from Michael, I quickly check on Skype to see if he’s there for us to record a quick video interview.  (Yon’s lifestyle is, to put it mildly, considerably more erratic and dangerous than mine. I have to seize targets of opportunity.) I caught up with him early this Sunday morning at at 9:30 AM LA time.  He was in a trailer in Kandahar, Afghanistan where it was twelve hours later for him.

Michael, who was about to embed with an unspecified military operation in the Afghani mountains, seemed elated by his recent trip to Iraq.  That war was substantially over, he said. He was able to go many places in that country now without body armor, a new event for him. Iraqis he met were even more optimistic about their future.  When he told one man he would be back in Iraq for a vacation in ten years, that man predicted five.  (You can hear more of this when we post the full interview on PJTV next week.)

Listening to this optimism at first made me testy.  How come this victory for democracy is being treated as such a trivial event by our media (if it is being reported at all)?   But then I remembered that greatest of all cliches–“No good deed goes unpunished”–and that second greatest of all cliches–“Virtue is its own reward”. And  I calmed down somewhat.

Although he may not have realized it, it was Yon himself who helped me through this.  When you watch the war and the warriors at close hand, as he has, your perspective is different.  And the fruits of victory don’t have to appear (or not) on the front page of the New York Times or on the six o’clock CBS News.  They appear on the ground in the real lives of people, in this case mostly Iraqi people, but also among our troops who have the deep satisfaction of having done good in the world.  These same troops, Yon told me, are often more optimistic than he is about the future of Afghanistan.  Talking to Michael in Kandahar, the onetime home of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, was also reassuring.  Omar may be still alive, but he wasn’t there.  The religious madman has to live in hiding.

Another interesting, and positive, factor Yon reported is that our troops are not particularly worried about Obama’s election.  They believe the new president will support them in Afghanistan, just as McCain would have.  And my guess is that he will.  Part of the reason for that is the great success in Iraq (which I will be surprised if Obama really acknowledges).  Troops and materiel will be liberated for the ongoing struggle against the Taliban in the cold Afghani winter.  Pajamas TV will be there in the person of Michael Yon (with high definition camera).  My guess is his reporting will be more solid and deeper than anything on CNN or Fox.  Indeed, that’s not a guess.  It’s a fact. You won’t want to miss it.