~Read Book ⚒ Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond ♠ PDF or E-pub free
~Read Book ☨ Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond ⚇ A fascinating, unprecedented first hand look at the soldiers on the front lines on the Global War on Terror Plunging deep into midst of some of the hottest conflicts on the globe, Robert D Kaplan takes us through mud and jungle, desert and dirt to the men and women on the ground who are leading the charge against threats to American security These soldiers, fighting in thick Colombian jungles or on dusty Afghani plains, are the forefront of the new American foreign policy, a policy being implemented one soldier at a time As Kaplan brings us inside their thoughts, feelings, and operations, these modern grunts provide insight and understanding into the War on Terror, bringing the war, which sometimes seems so distant, vividly to life.
This book is so bad and infuriarting to an unbelievable extent That Kaplan is meant to be an influential writer who influences American policymakers is extremely worrying Claiming to ground himself in geography and history, he understands neither and while not a dilletante evinces the mistakes that an amateur journalist will make in pronouncing weighty generalisations about countries, cultures and societies in ill advised broad strokes This could almost be the classic modern Orientalist text with its snap judgements about non Western and non White people and how American imperialism is good for them Factual errors abide in the book from the relatively minor, Robert Muldoon is British not Australian, to the medium, coming down from the Khyber pass one does not encounter tropical jungles but rather the fertile plains of the Punjab to the egregious, the AK 47 with its automatic rate of fire spread over an area compared to the accurate and semi automatic M 16 isn t a reflection of the Soviet disregard for the lives of its infantrymen in fact given population losses and casualties in WWII on the Eastern front, the Soviets faced massive manpower shortages and could not afford to throw away men casually but is rather a reflection on battlefield conditions that required a reliable, automatic rifle for a conscript army The M 16 s own troubled history where its jamming and the complaints by frontline troops of its unreliability in combat were deliberate ignored for months, leading to significant casualties as the rifles failed in combat, should make Kaplan pause to consider before making crass generalisations about which country could be cavalier about spending the lives of its young soldiers Also a note must be made about the gender politics here Kaplan seems unable to spend time in any country without passing some sort of remark about the attractiveness of the frequently young women he encounters and what exactly they are wearing This becomes than uncomfortable when he advocates a relaxing of the no fraternisation rule prevalent in many bases, to allow US soldiers to effectively take local mistresses The problems inherent here should be obvious but seem to completely escape Kaplan for unknown reasons. There is much to like about this book, and some things that irritate The chief point that America is an empire is well taken, even though I don t think there are many serious people that dispute it My favorite reference in the book is to the notion among the military about how amateurs discuss strategy, while the real professionals discuss logistics This applies to business, politics and really any leadership endeavor Developing the strategy is easy compared to the tough work of implementation Kaplan wears the military s and his own moral superiority a bit too much on his sleeve For example, after days of reporting on the battle of Fallujah, he left the besieged city just as the cease fire was announced and journalists began to arrive You see, just like the Army recruiting ads say, Kaplan does before 9 AM than most people do all day This attitude is probably fairly common among the military, and you see it with adventurers like serious kayakers and mountain climbers Many always come close to death, at least in their telling Which makes you wonder how much they really value the sheer adventure versus their own pride and narcissism Fortunately, this attitude is only among a small number of our troops, most of whom show real courage by putting their lives on the line Political and ideological arguments are often prominent in the book, as opposed to just telling the story All that said, it was a pretty good read. Aprendiendo, tendiendo puentes y proyectando G nero Ensayo.Lo que nos cuenta En palabras del propio autor, del mantenimiento imperial sobre el terreno y la b squeda de un manual para su aplicaci n , aunque creo que de los varios vol menes que ha escrito Kaplan al respecto es el menos centrado en el imperialismo directamente aunque algo hay y m s en ciertos tipos de profilaxis, simbiosis y tesis geopol ticas norteamericanas Quiere saber m s de este libro, sin spoilers Visite I am a citizen of the United States and a believer in the essential goodness of American nationalism, a nationalism without which the security armature for any emerging global system simply could not have existed I did not doubt that at some point, perhaps as soon as a few decades, American patriotism itsel might begin to become obsolete I also had no doubt that we were not there yet I had served in the military in the Israeli rather than the American In Israel in the 1970s, finding life exclusively among Jews in a small country claustrophobic, I discovered my Americanness anew My goal as a writer was simple and clear I wanted to take a snapshot for posterity of what it was like for middle level commissioned and noncommissioned American officers stationed at remote locations overseas at the beginning of the twenty first century Chapter 6, Imperial Grunts, Robert D KaplanWith much of the writing about Afghanistan and US military forces abroad coming from very young sources even Sebastian Junger is a mere 46 as he dispatches to Vanity Fair Bellavia is 24 when he first gets deployed Internet journalist Kevin Sites is 39 as he enters Iraq Luttrell, Wright, Swofford, Kyle, Parnell all in their twenties or early thirties as combat or embedded combat journalism is a work of young men , to large degree we receive the perspective of twenty four year olds certain, dedicated, black and white, aggressive, absolutist, and keen To that degree, it s useful and beyond useful to have Robert Kaplan, currently sixty one years old on the ground in Djibouti and Afghanistan to provide a father and babyboomer s perspective, a professor and a long time Atlantic s journalist s understanding.Kaplan is right of centre He is a Zionist He tells us with his rheumatic eyes that whorehouses across Asia use a fishbowl presentation He has children These may be unusual perspectives for the 2013 reader, brought up on Zinn and Nader, who is used to left of centre critique and who drinks riptide rush gatorade flavor, remembers gnarly and rad as elementary school slang, likes x treme sports But if Internet research reveals that Kaplan is a Stratfor analyst and a former Naval Academy professor, at the same time divergence of perspective is important to the broadly ranging reader And Kaplan is a skilled writer, an organizer of information A known minority of b list non fiction books start strong and then slowly slowly decline as the writer realizes there is only a limited amount of material he or she understands and can write about Kaplan s book peaks in the middle, with the battlefront of Afghanistan providing a severe backdrop to what is otherwise peaceful deployments Like Kevin Sites, he does the global thing, covering the entire world of deployment, but unlike Sites, he has a wealth of connections and personal experience to draw upon, and the story goes deeper and sees deeper.I can t say that I would be voting any time soon for Kaplan to high electorial office, and I don t know whether being designated a senior advisor by SecDef Robert Gates is an honor or merely a sign of establishmentarianism, but I am eager to read the rest of Kaplan s works, and perhaps his wikipedia page is actually sort of enticing for future theory and practice 4 5 solid. Robert Kaplan is a writer in the mold of young Winston Churchill, marching towards the sound of the guns and reporting from where the action is His Imperial Grunts follows the wide ranging activities of US elite troops the special forces, the green berets and in the last part, the Marine Corps in Iraq If the US has taken on the role of a global police force the way the British Empire once tried to do here are the cops on the beat In addition to Iraq, he visits Yemen, Colombia, the Phillipines, Afghanistan, Somalia and Mongolia, as well as home bases in the USA A common theme underlying all of Kaplan s book is his deep admiration for those imperial grunts and for the ones who lead them American soldiers around the globe should appreciate what he has written, because it pays tribute to their determination, resourcefulness and courage, a tribute rarely heard for the simple reason that few members of the regular press go to where Kaplan has gone These soldiers job is dangerous, conditions are rough, pay is skimpy and at the same time, the camaraderie is genuine, personal responsibilities are often enormous and the demands one one s people skills can be staggering This is most evident where American soldiers operate in small teams, training and inspiring local counterparts to give stability a chance, in societies on the edge of chaos Take the rain forests of Colombia, where rival militias subsist off the drug trade, while bullying and exploiting locals, often with help from across an unfriendly border Colombian soldiers are brave and tough, and the fact that many US soldiers speak their language is a great asset but Colombia s politicians and the majority of the population, comfortable in the highlands, do no sense the same urgency, so that the situation smolders on Yemen is a volatile tribal society, a medley of clans armed to the teeth, often supplementing their income from illegal levies at roadblocks Whatever hold the central government has is maintained largely by judicious bribes and by playing clan leaders against each other Later Kaplan discovers that much of Iraq is just as fragmented, and that Saddam s rule was maintained by similar means the situation there has got worse since his visit The clans, the weapons, the religious extremism also, an expanding population subsisting on limited means all these are enough to make the reader pause and wonder are these the places for promoting democracy Indeed, I fear that with all the valor of US troops, chaos will ultimately prevail in most places he describes followed by oppression, the only realistic alternative to chaos The fighting men are first rate, dedicated and patriotic, but their orders often come from the rear echelon REMFs, a different breed Kaplan s book ends with a gripping first hand account of the battle of Fallujah, in which the Marines prevailed, only to be ordered back at the moment of victory Being disciplined, they pull out Maybe on the long run all that makes little difference As one reads Kaplan s reports, one is struck by a feeling of futility valor and resourcefulness are great assets, but in the face of world wide disorder, of corruption, poverty, exploding populations and religious zealots, any hope for order may be doomed Those societies were never stable to begin with, and now their edges are unraveling Tomorrow the stakes will be higher, life precarious and any hope for exporting our prosperous orderly democracy even remote For the time, however, a few brave young men stand as a thin barrier between our world and the chaotic one They do their utmost to give those embattled societies a chance, to maybe just possibly find a way to a better, orderly life More power to them, and great credit to Kaplan for trying to show the view from their side. Hectic read, absorbing, masterfully told This is one writer I am going to follow from now on Whatever you think of his style, you are not going to go bored reading his stories I was happily surprised to notice his lack of arrogance as one would expect to find from a reporter among this class of American heroes The stars are the real soldiers, the military Kaplan is there alright, but in the background.I loved the chapters on Colombia and the Philippines But everything was very vivid and exciting You get to have a global sightseeing tour of American forces over the planet You feel the humidity, you see the landscapes they see, taste the same food and live the same experiences, battlefield included.The last chapter on Iraq, Fallujah specifically was the best ending possible for this book One can t help to identify oneself with the writer when, after the battle was ceasefired by political decision in Dubai In the lobby, on the way to my room, I noticed a newstand The front pages were all about Fallujah I felt like a person at the center of a scandal that everybody was reading about, in which even the most accurate, balanced accounts were unconnected to what I had actually experienced and the marines I had experienced it all with I felt deeply alienated After I ate and showered and scrubbed my backpack, I didn t want to talk to anyone All I wanted to do was write The author has a clear idea and so depicts it of American society The soldiers and marines I encountered during months of travel with the military whose parents and grandparents had fought in Vietnam thought of that war as every bit as sanctified as the nation s others As for those who saw Vietnam differently, they were generally from the prosperous classes of American society, classes which even back then were in the process of forging a global, cosmopolitan elite Want to know what the real world out there is like Read this. The vast net of US military commitments around the globe is largely invisible to the american taxpaying public and Imperial Grunts does a good job of taking the reader on a tour of this worldI found myself reassured by what I read here the military on display here is smart, quiet, adaptable, and effective This is the way a global war against non state actors needs to be fought.But I found my enjoyment of this new world, and all its very important foreign policy implications, clouded by Kaplan s starry eyes cryptofascist worship of military force as an instrument of foreign policy Maybe I m still irritated by his fanboy writeup of the B 2 in this months Atlantic, but there are times when Kapan gushed over military globalization the way Friedman gushes over economic globalization which is to say breathlessly, unabashedly pro globo with the downside always conveniently omitted. I ve read some less than favorable reviews of this book, mostly by those types who find the idea of American imperialism an unsavory concept But the fact of the matter is the American empire is a reality and has been going strong for half a century Rather than waste time equivocating over what does or does not equate to imperialsim, Kaplan dives right in visiting forward operating bases FOBs where Army Special Forces, FAOs, and Marines are projecting American soft power Instead of occupying large bases around the world, the military s forward thinking strategists are favoring a small footprint strategy There are now units in places like Columbia, the Philippines, Mongolia and Djibouti training local soldiers, leaving a favorable impression through efficient humanitarian projects, and collecting favors that can be called upon in the future should America need them All of this was an aspect of American foreign policy that I was completely ignorant of and Kaplan deserves a lot of credit for bringing it to light and doing the footwork to really tell the stories of these impressive soldiers He also spends the requisite time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the problems he witnesses there are precisely because these new strategies aren t being applied on the military s two most important fronts But most of all, Kaplan highlights just how brave and professional these imperial soldiers are and it gave me a new found respect for our country s military. A great survey of a lot of what our armed forces are like and what they re doing around the world today The American system is an empire in all but name, and this book recognizes that reality and shows how that empire is being maintained and extended by many means.A fascinating look into what s going on in many regions where our government has decided it has a stake in events and into the personalities and lives of some of our people in uniform This is the first book of an intended series reporting on different dimensions of our military activities around the world As a retired Marine, I found this fascinating and am looking forward to reading the rest of the books Kaplan writes in this series.For anyone interested in geopolitics and or the military, this is a must read.