Many of the troops are on their third or fourth tour of duty, and 40 percent of them are reservists whose training and discipline are not up to the standards of their full-time counterparts. Trained for combat and gaining and holding territory, equipped with superior firepower and technology, they are unprepared for the disorienting and endless rigors of irregular warfare. The Marines, in particular, are trained for "kinetic" warfare, constantly in motion, and imbued with a warrior culture that sets them apart from the Army. Marines, however well disciplined, are especially susceptible because of their perpetual state of high adrenaline to the inhuman pressures of irregular warfare.This only re-convinces me that the War in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster of epic proportion. I'm not a total pacifist; I do believe it's really, really bad to use force and violence, and it's something that can't be controlled in the end. However, war seems to be part of our human condition, part of the general mistake of humanness. From this position, I can say that one could conceive of a good war, started for the right reasons and run efficiently for the quickest, least destructive end. Bush's Iraq, the definitive war of choice, misses on both counts. We are dealing with delusions of grandeur at the top of our chain of command.
There can be good "colonialism." Medical and sanitation infrastructures can be developed for places, like rural India, where only 15% of people actually shit in toilets (I read that in the paper today). People aren't necessarily happier when their country is "developed," but there's a level at which a country like the US has a moral obligation to address an issue like HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
These are all problems best addressed by legions of idealistic, smart, motivated, educated, and critically thinking young men and women, much like the Civil Service workers in the British Empire of yore. For, as Jesus said, the poor will always be with you, and it seems right to me that those in the developed world would help those in need, as a way to address global inequality. Iraq once seemed to be ripe for this kind of humanitarian experiment for the Pax Americana. It's now in utterr disaster, as Abu Ghraib and Haditha show. And the majority of our young people serving in Iraq, I am forced to assume, have their motivations in places other than "colonial" idealism. What smart person would volunteer for a floundering, dangerous and protracted occupational war? The kind of boot on the ground willing, or even having the capacity, to learn Arabic, deal with children in a way other than handing them candy (how about teaching them how to read?), the type of person who would read Rousseau's Du Contrat Social, have the necessarily training for building, not just killing?
The Iraq War is such a harrowing disservice to our nation's young people. While the best move to Manhattan, the others die hopelessly in Iraq, 2,486 Americans right now? Some must starve so others may play golf.
Today I will enjoy the sun, and work at GNC.