Friday, September 29, 2006

Imperial Grunts - My piss poor little review

Imperial Grunts

Okay, so after reading it (and taking my time, mostly cause I'm a lazy reader) I can safely say I highly recommend this book.

Basically it's Robert Kaplan running around with Army Special Forces and Marines in various countries around the world. Mongolia, Colombia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Djibouti, The Philippines. Actually, the chapter on the Philippines will make you wish you had joined the service. Lots of cool shit talked about in this book. Getting to know some of the guys in uniform is a treat. These are some real straight talking no bullshit kinda guys. Real men that would make Maddox proud. The locales are also very well detailed. I got this strong urge to go live in Mongolia with a Filipino wife. So yeah, I guess he romanticizes things a tad.

Some of the details of what these guys are doing 'round the world is interesting and in some ways almost tedious. Basically they go around creating positive relationships with little backasswards cultures. Go to country X, get to know the folks who run the joint, help create workable special forces units that can be trusted to do their jobs properly and to help the central government project itself into uncontrolled territories, be nice to the locals by doing work on infrastructure and helping with medical needs, and, in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, kill some terrorist fucks. Basically, this is Kaplan's description of what he refers to as our American Empire. An empire based on democracy and trade rather than force and conquest. Hey, hell of an empire. He pretty much approves of it. He has his criticisms of the way things are run, his views on how to solve certain aspects of the dominion (which is all addressed in one chapter pretty much leaving the rest to describe his adventures) on so on and so forth.

Kaplan constantly talks about America's 19th century expansion and the military's abilities at fighting unconventional wars. He goes on about how the top brass are stuck in a World War II mindset with the viwe towards mass infantry when he believes smaller forces are required to fight our present unconvetional wars. He cites American western expansion and the various indian wars in his arguments.

It's a really good read. It really grabbed my attention, or at least it did once I would get around to picking it up. There's some real funny shit when he gets to talking with the soldiers and Marines. There's tons of interesting observations and locales. Absolutely worth reading.


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