Thursday, December 29, 2005

Imperial Grunts by Robert Kaplan

NOTE: I try not to swear on this blog, but in order to quote someone else accurately, I had to because he did. Hey, it happens.
We know about our soldiers battling Islamic terror groups in Afghanistan and Iraq, but Robert Kaplan travels around the globe to interview members of the American Military in other trouble spots. He profiles the guys on the ground, grunts mostly, but some higher ranking officers too. After reading the book I'm thankful we have the military that we do, and I'm even more thankful for the men we have fighting on our side.

The soldiers and marines Kaplan describes and travels with are truly the best and the brightest that the Unites States has to offer. We can sit at our computers and complain about everything that we think is wrong. We can debate endlessly on how to make the world a better place, and get into pissing contests with the lefty bloggers. Big deal. These guys are out there, living in really nasty, dangerous places, actually working with muscle and brains to make the world a better place, battling terrorists and drug dealers, and offering hope to the regular folk who were unfortunate enough to be born and live in poverty-stricken villages in Columbia, Mongolia, or Yemen. Most of the time they have to figure out what works and what doesn't on the job. They're regularly placing themselves in situations that most of us will never have to deal with and where some of us would soil our pants if we did have to.

These are the guys who are going to win the wars if our spinal-challenged Congress and bureaucrats at the Pentagon let them. (Not all generals are bureaucrats, Kaplan profiles some great American generals, but these guys are in the field, not in an office in Washington D. C.)

What kind of guys are fighting for us, so we can sit at our computers and pound out commentary like this, safely go to our jobs in the morning, safely come home at night to be with our families; a right most of us haven't earned, but were given because we were born in the right country? Guys like this in Iraq:
While I was lying in my sleeping bag, one of the Renegades, Cpl. Michael Pinckney of South Kingstown, Rhode Island, came up to me and began to talk: "I'm twenty-three. My generation sucks. They're all soft. They don't care about their identity as Americans. We live in some bad-ass country, and they're not even proud of it. My family flies the flag, but other families don't. Nobody knows what it means to be American anymore, to be tough. I like being home and yet I don't. People at home are not proud of us being in Iraq, because they've lost the meaning of sacrifice. They expect things to be perfect and easy. They don't know that when things go wrong you persevere; you don't second-guess. During OIF-I (Operation Iraqi Freedom), we all slept in the rain and got dysentery in Ad-Diwaniyah. But back home, everyone is going to shrinks and suing each other. That's why I like the Marine Corps. If you fuck up, your sergeant makes you suck it up. I don't want to be anywhere else but Iraq. OIF-i and OIF-II, this is what manhood is all about. And I dont mean macho shit either I mean moral character."

Despite news reports of low morale in the armed services because of overdeployment, with Army Special Forces and the Marines I had met only two kinds of troops: those who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who were jealous of those who were.
There are a lot of other soldiers like that in this book. Obviously this is not a book for the America-as-evil-imperialist-power crowd. And some reviewers were unhappy with some of Kaplan's beliefs and conclusions. This book did give me an appreciation for the good that the U. S. armed forces are doing as they fight on our behalf. It also made me think about the shallow way I was living back in my late teens and twenties. But that's the subject of another post.

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At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Jim Rowley said...

Cpl. Mike, God Bless You...keep up the good work over there. We aren't all soft over here but the squeaky wheels keep getting greased by the media ( and a lot of the squeaky wheels ARE the media). A lot of us believe in everything you and your fellow Marines and the rest of our armed forces are doing over there...don't doubt it for a minute. Stay safe.
Jim Rowley
Narragansett RI

At 4:19 PM, Blogger George Lenihan said...

Cpl. Mike,
Thank you for service to our country. We need more like you. Jim Rowley is right; the silent majority appreciates your sacrifice. Keep up the good work and stay safe. When you get home please stop by Pancho O'Malley's, dinner and drinks are on me.

God bless,
George Lenihan
Narragansett, RI


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