You know, I want to write about politics. I want to write about the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have thoughts on this, as some of you might well imagine. But it seems so... pretentious. I just said in my last post that I knew what I wanted to write here, and I do. But it's just so heavy. So I'm going to just jump in.
I've seen pictures and videos of the Iraqi and Afghan armies, and heard the stories of the "rigorous" 2-day, or 2 week, or whatever, "basic training" program that they go through, and then I see them, on the news, walking the streets of Baghdad and Qandahar, looking completely unprepared. I hear stories of them helping insurgents, because they consider us occupiers rather than allies, because their imam has told them we are tools of Satan, or because they are using their newfound power for their own gain rather than to help their country. I see and hear all of this, and I despair of ever getting our troops out of there, because until those armies (and police forces, and anyone else with the official power to use force) thinks of themselves as professional and capable they will be little more than poorly trained Wild West posses.
But I have a suggestion...
No one in the world creates a more powerful or more deserved feeling of esprit de corps, belonging, and competence than the US Marine Corps. If you've ever known a Marine, you'll know what I mean. Their boot camp is grueling, demeaning, and demanding. It will tear a person down to nothing, then take that nothing turn it into a Marine. That Marine will never doubt his abilities or his loyalties, which are never to himself, but to his country, his Corps, and his comrades. This is the training we need to be giving to the Iraqi and Afghan armies. Then they will see themselves as protectors of their country. Then they will see that they have the real power, not the insurgents. And they will see that the real honor comes in using that power to build, not to destroy.
So I suggest that we take the two armies, in turns, to Parris Island and run the recruits through the full boot camp course. Teach them what it means to be a part of something bigger. And give them the actual skills they'll need to defend their country. And once they have the skills and confidence to do that, THEN we can leave them to it.