Balkan Ghosts , etc.)—one that is backed by the"/>
 

Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground

Robert D. Kaplan, Author
Robert D. Kaplan, Author . Random $27.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6132-7
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America is no less an imperial power than Britain and Rome in their times, claims veteran journalist Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts , etc.)—one that is backed by the same sort of enforcers. To illustrate, he travels to seven nations and describes how American troops are, if not ruling the world, working to persuade it to follow our lead. The author joins elite units (generally marines or special forces) sent to shore up friendly governments, win people's hearts, train security forces and defeat terrorism—an increasingly vague term that includes narco-guerrillas, local warlords, unruly tribes and criminal gangs. Living among working soldiers, Kaplan makes no secret of his admiration for their camaraderie, practicality and rational if politically incorrect views. All roll their eyes when our leaders proclaim that defeating terrorism requires democratic governments; according to Kaplan, they believe this is nonsense in Colombia, Kenya, Yemen and the Philippines—all democracies. Forbidden to fight in these countries, Americans are building infrastructure and gathering intelligence as they instruct local units, hoping American-trained leaders will eventually rise to positions of authority. Military buffs will prefer the chapters on Iraq and Afghanistan, where the soldiers are slugging it out. Stabilizing all these nations may take decades, these men and women say—except in Iraq, where it may take longer. (On sale Sept. 13)

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