May 06

One year ago today, Eric and I launched On Violence. To commemorate our first year, we decided to do (what else?) a link drop of what we think is our best work from the past year.

We appreciate all the support from readers and friends. There are too many people to thank, but we'll say this: it is always nice to feel like you aren't just shouting off into space, and that some people are actually reading.

Frankly, we're kind of surprised at how far we have come. Going over our posts from the last year, we think the quality of our writing, and clarity of our ideas, has improved dramatically. We have over a 1,000 twitter followers and a 134 fans on facebook. We've had articles published on Thomas Rick's blog The Best Defense,,,, and others. Our traffic has increased every month.

Though we don't know where we will be exactly in the next year, (hint, hint: deployment) On Violence will keep going strong; we have at least two year's worth of stories, gripes, complaints, opinions, reviews and philosophical musings to share. Expect our regular schedule to continue, and expect to see our work popping up in old media and around the blogosphere. We also hope to launch at least one new blog project within in the year. We'll keep you up to date.

Finally, how you can help. Tell your friends and followers about On Violence. Invite all your friends to become fans of our On Violence facebook page. Tweet this post for us today. Give us a shout out on followfriday (#ff). Drop us an email with what you like (or don't like) about our blog. Send us a guest post. Add us to your blogroll. And please, comment on our posts because we want to hear your opinion.

So without further ado, the best of On Violence. If you think we missed anything, comment below.

     Personal Experience-
       Were You Scared?  
       Operation Judgment Day
       Hey Michael, What Did You Do Out There?
       Fear and Black Hawk Down
       Mistaking Goats for the Taliban

    Philosophy of Violence-
Defining Violence
 Violence in Context
On Genocide

    Counter-Insurgency Warfare-
 Arcs of Fire
        Why Leaders Make the ROE
        On Curling
        Why BlackWater?
        Is Waste (in Warfare) Immoral?
        A DMV, a Contractor, and a Captain Walk into a Bar

    Foreign Affairs-
        National Security with a License to Kill, or Torture
        Failed States, Terrorism, and Afghanistan
        Why We Love "Cool Runnings"...Oh, and Globalization
    Military Affairs-
PowerPoint is Not a Children’s Story Book: 5 Ways to Improve your PowerPoint Presentations
    Our Fashion Conscious Army: Order, Discipline, and Good Looks

    Art of Violence-
When They ARE Out to Get You...
        Executioner's Song -- When On V Disagrees -- Song Battle Pt. 1 and Pt. 2
        The "Battle Mentality" of Hollywood
        Degrees of War
        The Sword and the Joystick
        (Photo) Graphic Truths
        Unleash the Dogs of War
        A Million Little Memoirs
        Generation Kill vs. One Bullet Away
        The Litmus Test: 9 Things Every War Memoir Should Include (But Don't)
        Propaganda Week: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
        Defining Political War Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4       
       The Battle for Algiers Week Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4
Academy Award Series Part 1, 2, 3, and 4
My Tributes to Two Fallen Heroes, Lucas Beachnaw Part 1, Mark Daily Part 2, and a Guest Post

    Guest Posts at On Violence-
  Guest Post: 15 Bullets by Matty P.
        Guest Post: Coming Back and Moving Forward - PTSD and the Military by Chris C.
        Guest Post: Rainbow by Matty P.

    On V in Other Places-
        - Rebecca’s war dog of the week: K2, the weenie of Afghanistan at Thomas Rick's blog, The Best Defense
        - What It Means to Be Anti-War at Chris C's blog, the Opinion Spigot
        - The Golden Rule of Writing and Ten Writing Rules You Can't Break and How to Break Them at
        - 9 Things Bloggers Can and Can't Learn from the Military at

Jan 04

As the year 2010 begins (let's be honest, the year doesn't really start until you go back to work), we wanted to give our readership a glimpse into the future, along with two big announcements.

First, starting this Thursday our friend Matty P will contribute a post every other week. He shares our interest in art and violence plus he brings a different set of experiences than our own. He has already provided some great guest posts for us--such as "15 Bullets", "Violence and Entertainment" and "My Father is a Warrior"--and we look forward to working with him.

But Matty P is not the only voice we want to hear at On Violence. Everyone has some connection to violence. We've all seen, witnessed or caused violence in some form, and we want to hear from you about what you've experienced. We welcome you to share your experiences with us, anonymously or in public.

In 2010, you can also expect to see On Violence out in the larger media world, following on Eric C's very successful post at and We have several projects planned for the larger milblogging, blogging and old media worlds. Whatever we get published, we will let you know.

For the upcoming year, Michael C will continue to tell his experiences from Afghanistan, comment on the draw down in Iraq and build up in Afghanistan, and complain about the continuing lack of great counter-insurgency in the military. Eric C will finish his series on war memoirs with his biting sarcasm intact. Finally, we will start a series of debates between Michael C, Eric C and Matty P with the first on the lessons of Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan.

Most importantly, the team at On Violence will be launching a new web project this year. We are still finalizing details and working on the specifics, but trust us, we will let you know as soon as it goes up.

We also have some sad news. Apparently the 2009 Weblog Awards have been canceled. Thanks to everyone who voted for us. The 2010 Bloggies have just begun taking nominations and if you feel like we do now, you probably don't care.

Finally, thanks of course go out to all our loyal readers. The biggest surprise for us since starting the blog has been the amazing contacts we have made with people we would not have met otherwise. Follow us on facebook, twitter or via RSS feed. Tell your friends, family or complete strangers.

Dec 14

It's taken us a long time to publish our blogroll. Why? We didn't want to put out a blogroll we didn't believe in. Too many blogrolls are filled with outdated, broken links, or have too many links to be useful.

The purpose of a blogroll, in our opinion, is to guide readers to the best foreign policy, military affairs, and news blogs on the net, not to receive backlinks from other websites. Our blogroll is for you, not us. Ideally, if our website were the first FP/MA/News blog you've ever read, we can guide you to the best blogs on the net.

We'd also like to say that old media news sources--NPR on radio, NewHour on television, The Economist and the New Yorker for weekly news magazines--still provide some of the best analysis out there.

Having said the above, we consider our blogroll a living document. Expect us to update it every so often and provide a post explaining why.

The On Violence Blog Roll

Abu Muqawama - Andrew Exum recently gave up daily blogging, but we still recommend his blog. Waiting for Abu M's longer form thoughts will always be a treat.

The Best Defense - Tom Rick's wrote two of the definitive accounts of the Iraq War in Fiasco and The Gamble.  He provides some of the best war coverage anywhere.

Blog Them Out of the Stone Age- Professor Mark Grimsley is a professor at the Ohio State University and at the U.S. Army War College. He ably covers both current military affairs and provide a well needed critique to military history. Blogs - The bloggers on Foreign Policy's site--Daniel DreznerAbu Aardvark (Marc Lynch), Stephen Walt, and David Rothkopf--write about zombies, Jay-Z, sports, films and novels. Occasionally they write about foreign affairs too.

FP Watch - More focused on, surprise, foreign policy, FP Watch provides a less militarized view of the foreign policy world aong with good insight.

Informed Comment - Juan Cole is the king of the anti-war blogosphere. Check him out.

Inkspots - A group of foreign policy and military consultants who provide daily updates on the world. They have a good dialogue in their comments section as well.

Kings of War - A group of respected academics from the Department of War Studies at King's College London, they provide a forum for some well-learned perspectives from across the pond.

Michael Yon - Michael Yon writes his award winning reporting from the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Milblogging - The ultimate resource for military blogging on the internet. Period.

The New Yorker - The New Yorker is the greatest media creation in any language since the dawn of man (Eric C's opinion). We particularly enjoy Hendrick Hertzberg on politics, Think Tank (Steve Coll) on Public Policy and Interesting Times (George Packer) on whatever topic he feels like opining upon.

The Rebel Reports - Jeremy Scahill reports for the Nation on military contracting and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Small Wars Journal - The Small Wars Journal has created a vital new source of dialogue for the modern warfighter. Read their blog and peruse their forum.

Wings over Iraq - A fellow military blogger who just returned from Iraq, Starbuck wrote a tremendous piece for the Small Wars Journal linking military theory to science fiction. Also one of the first bloggers to add us to his blogroll, so he must have good taste.

If you have any ideas, please leave them in the comments below.

Nov 30

Eric and I are celebrating On Violence's 100th post today and, as we did in our fiftieth post, we are highlighting our best posts from the last four months. But before we get to that...

Thanks to everyone who voted for us for the 2009 Weblog Awards. We won't know if we get nominated until late December, so stay tuned...

Also, we want your feedback. We thrive on it. Email us, leave a comment, or tweet us. Tell us what articles you like, dislike, or what topics you enjoy most. (Leave comments below if you'd like.)

If you would like to follow us on twitter, RSS feed, or facebook, please click on the links in the sidebar. And please share On Violence articles with your friends via facebook, twitter, digg, or any other crazy social network. Most importantly, invite your friends to become fans of On Violence on facebook; this has been our most successful method of getting new readers.

So without further ado, the Top Ten On V Posts (chosen unscientifically and arranged chronologically):

1. Defining Contemporary War- The terms to describe our current conflicts are legion. Michael C cuts through it all to say what terms he likes, what terms he dislikes, and the term he think shall rule them all, political war.

2. The Fog of War - The first, but not last, post on Tim O'Brien's The Thing They Carried about trying to sort out the truth of war.

3. Degrees of War - A different take on today's Global War on Terror--comparing today's wars to the war to end all wars.

4. 15 Bullets by Matty P - Our first guest post, a brutal description of a different type of war.

5. Battle For Algiers - One film, Pontecorvo's The Battle for Algiers, is so good we had to write four posts on it. Read about racial profiling, torture, sympathy for the devil, and counter-insurgency warfare.

6. (Photo) Graphic Truths - Our post on perhaps the most famous war photo of all time, and what it says about photography.

7. Violence in Context - Our most commented post of all time, the beginning of our analysis of Violence as a concept.

8. Powerpoint is not a Children's Storybook - The first of many posts on management, a skill the Army sorely lacks.

9. A Tale of Two MEDCAPs Parts 1 and 2 - These two posts describe the most meaningful thing we can do in Afghanistan, and how to do it right.

10. What did you do out there? Did you accomplish anything out there? - Two personal experience essays that connected with our audience.

11. Finally, On Violence's thoughts on Afghanistan - Though we don't like to chase the news, we wanted to comment on the war in Afghanistan. We posted on why we don't make predictions, the problem with failed states, adding fuel to the mujhadeen fire, Karzai and Pakistan.

Nov 25

No post today because of the Holidays. Happy Thanksgiving to all On Violence followers! Check back in on Black Friday for On Violence's recommendations for Christmas and Holiday presents.

Aug 19

To celebrate our 50th post, Michael and I are posting the top ten -- or so -- posts we think represent the very best of On Violence. We’ve come a long way in a little over three months -- last week was our biggest yet -- and we wanted to both celebrate and give a quick run down of the best of On V.

We want to thank everyone who has read our posts, and especially those of you who have tweeted, shared, linked to, or commented on them. Special thanks goes out to long time readers Matty P (who will be guest posting next Thursday) and Will, who have been commenting, reading, and giving us feedback the whole way. Also, especially big thanks go to our web designer Jeff, whose design work has been invaluable.

We don’t like to do self promotion in the articles, but since this is an anniversary, if you would like to follow us on twitter, RSS feed, or facebook, please click on the links in the sidebar. If you'd like, please share any On V articles with your friends.

So without further ado, the Top Ten On V Posts (chosen unscientifically and arranged chronologically):

1. Defining Violence - Our first real post, and a definition of Violence. At its core, this is a philosophy website, but one about a real world issue.

2. 9/11 Blame Game - On Violence is non-partisan because foreign affairs should be non-partisan (though often isn't). The 9/11 Blame Game, one of our earliest posts, perfectly illustrates our feelings on this. (Also read Part 2 and Part 3)

3. Why Blackwater? and Machievelli and Blackwater -  Our first two articles to receive attention and comments. In the future, we will write more on the complex, and often hazardous, relationship between the military and private security contractors. (See also The REAL Problem with Non-military Contractors.)

4. Executioner’s Song - When On V disagrees - Song Battle Parts 1 and 2 - Our most popular art post yet. If you have any recommendations for good songs about war for the next song battle, please include them in the comments.

5. Why Do I Fight? and Were You Scared? - These two essays about Michael’s personal experiences in Afghanistan hit a chord with our readership.

6. Language Skill vs. Fighting Skill - Fighting counter-insurgency in the Global War on Terror will require more than strength and weapons, the thesis of this article.

7. Operation Judgement Day - An article about poorly planned, executed, and led counter-insurgency mission in Iraq. It also describes how far the Army must go to truly understand counter-insurgency. (Recommended by loyal commenters and readers Matty P and Will)

8. No Villains and The Best Kind of Propaganda - These two articles on John Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down describe the unexpected appeal of good propaganda (which is not an oxymoron).

9. 5 Tips for Better IO - The first, but not the last, article with tips for small unit leaders in the US Army and Marine Corp. Also recommended by Will.

10. War as the Opposite of Civilization - One of Matty P’s favorite art articles, this is Eric C’s thesis on war (as written by Ursula K Leguin).

If you have a favorite On V article, we would love to hear it in the comments. And again, thanks!