Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Saturday, June 19, 2004

US Military in Iraq

This introduction and interview with The Atlantic Monthly's Robert D. Kaplan offers some interesting insights into the inner workings of the US military in Iraq. The journalist was embedded with a marine battalion and was present during the Falluja offensive. One of the issues discussed that I found interesting was the religious christian aspect of military mentality. The marines are described as having "a strong religious streak, which gives them "a stark belief in their own righteousness and in the iniquity of the enemy," but which also inspires them to show "compassion for innocent civilians."" Kaplan writes "The spirit of the U.S. military is fiercely evangelical, even as it is fiercely ecumenical." Indeed, a few hours before the scheduled attack, a military chaplain issued a blessing in which he reminded them that it was Palm Sunday and referred to the task at hand as "a spiritual battle" and to the Marines themselves as "tools of mercy." Also interesting was a point about how US troops grew moustaches to portray a sense of the strength of tribal chieftainship.

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