Onward, Muslim Soldiers

I throw a fair amount of criticism and disrespect at Robert Kaplan, so let me rise in defense of him. This post about Ft. Hood is great.

The massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, in which 13 soldiers were shot and killed by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, paradoxically took my memory back to April 2004, when I was embedded with a Marine battalion during the first battle of Fallujah. The battalion just happened to have in the ranks a corporal of Syrian descent who did double duty as the commander’s translator for his meetings with the Iraqis. The young Muslim corporal was arguably the most valuable member of the battalion: simply by his presence he was able to cast the battalion in a different, more positive light among the locals.

The United States military needs more troops of Muslim origin within its ranks. We need a military that looks like the larger world for the global challenges ahead, such as helping to protect the “commons,” the air space and sea lanes. Think of the Navy’s slogan in its new television recruitment commercials: “A Global Force for Good.”

Good for Kaplan. I don’t really know what to make of his comment on Huntington’s clash-of-civilizations thesis — “I argued that his idea was right if a bit simplistic, but it was no less valid a bumper sticker for the world we were entering than that of the ‘Cold War'”; huh? — but this is not the time or place.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman