Update: Obviously enough to this blog's readership, I started posting again in the fall of 2008 after several months hiatus.
My name is Andrew Exum
, and for the past year and a half, I have had the great pleasure of editing this blog under the ridiculous pseudonym “Abu Muqawama.”
I started this blog as a joke – hence the tongue-in-cheek name – and have been shocked to discover that a year and a half on, we have a dedicated readership whose numbers have been growing exponentially. I’ll never forget the day Dave Kilcullen
sent me three separate emails complaining about some smart-assed post I had written. “When did people start taking us seriously?” I angrily demanded of Charlie in an email that day.
Unrelated to reader harassment, this is my last post for the blog. The possibility remains that I will send in occasional reports from Lebanon once I move back at the end of the summer, but my day-to-day involvement will end today. The reason for this decision is pretty simple: my livelihood depends on my academic research and my consulting work, and I need to dedicate more time to each. The blog provides no income aside from amazon.com gift certificates, so there is a very real opportunity cost in play here: when I blog, that means I’m not doing things I could otherwise be doing to earn money or to move me closer toward finishing my dissertation.
The internet = serious business. Last spring, we averaged around 100 readers a day. Today, we average closer to 3,000. Much of the credit for our meteoric rise belongs to the pretty incredible team we’ve assembled. Those wishing to be a part of Team Muqawama have always had to meet two requirements:
1. They couldn’t be funnier than me.
2. They had to be much, much smarter than me.
Charlie, Kip, Dr. iRack, and Londonstani have really taken this blog to the next level
(to use a hackneyed sports cliché). I want to thank them all for their contributions. Charlie takes today over as the blog’s editor-in-chief, and she has some good plans for the future of the blog. Together, the remaining four bloggers will be taking on more contributors to take my place in the next few weeks, and trust me, their quality will more than make up for my absence. I will remain a daily reader of this blog and want to thank my four co-bloggers for making this such a great experience.
I also want to take the time to thank all the following people whose insights, emails and late-night beer/arak/whisky-fueled conversations have greatly contributed to the quality and evolution of my thinking and posting: John Nagl, Tom Ricks, Dave Kilcullen, Janine Davidson, Phil Carter, Erin Simpson, Mike Horowitz, Nick Blanford, Issandr El-Amrani, Dan Helmer, Dave Dilegge, Bob “The” Bateman, Colin Kahl, David Betz and the King’s College London Insurgency Research Group, Amil Khan, Lady Emma Sky, Gian Gentile, Hussein Abdul Sater, Kalev Sepp, Seth Wikas, Andrew Tabler, Charles Levinson, H.R. McMaster, Elijah Zarwan, Spencer Ackerman, Yochi Dreazen, Doug Ollivant, Marc Lynch, Thomas Rid, Steve Metz, T.X. Hammes, and my eternal hero, H.P. Flashman. (Apologies if I left anyone out.)
Many thanks, of course, to the loyal readership. Mo, fnord, SNLII, tintin – I’ll miss you guys. (You too, Mom, but I’ll make an effort to stay in touch, okay?) Thanks as well go out to the Desert Rose Coffee Shop in Walthamstow where I am writing this valedictory. Radwan and “Shiekh” Yaseen – shukran
. I will miss this neighborhood and have learned a lot about what John MacKinlay describes as “post-Maoist insurgencies” by living here.
Pictured: The author, in Walthamstow, his traveling bag packed only with copies of FM 3-24, a toothbrush and a Flashman novel.
Finally, I would like to apologize for the times in which my normal good-natured smart-assery drifted into outright mean-spiritedness. The times in which I lost my cool and wrote stuff that was either really mean or unfair did not reflect positively on my professed beliefs and values. (The lone exception to this is when people invent/use the term “insurgent potentialities” to describe civilians on the battlefield. Those people – you know who you are – deserve all the scorn they get.)
So that’s it. You are now all spared my posts on counterinsurgency, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hizbollah, the Boston Red Sox, Manchester United, the travails of Scotland’s rugby and footba’
squads, and the endless glories of East Tennessee and its peoples. I am now off to return to the United States and to spend the bulk of the summer with my wild-haired Italian girlfriend. And if I posted a picture of her, well, that alone would be enough to explain why.
Thanks, and goodbye.