I recently finished reading Generation Kill by Rolling Stone correspondent Evan Wright. The author was embedded with the all-volunteer First Recon Marine Battalion throughout the spring of 2003 as it spearheaded the invasion into Iraq. Wright endures all the hardships and dangers these elite troops do. For his troubles, he was able to fill his book with vivid reportage capturing the fighting, boredom, tangy military lingo, and often surprising thoughts of these highly trained killers.
The result is a disturbing read. You finish Generation Kill filled with admiration for these Marines' bravery, but also with disgust for the politicians who put them in this hellish, futile situation and with despair for the frequent Iraqi civilian deaths inflicted by Americans under stressful, chaotic conditions. You also learn that incompetent fools rise to prominence in the military, just as they tend to do in the business world.
One soldier who stands out is Sgt. Antonio Espera, who "believes the whole war is being fought for the same reason all others have for the past several hundred years. `White man's gotta rule the world,' he says.” The only way Espera can get through his tour of duty is to "function in a void of indifference."
Another Marine, Doc Bryan, observes, "War doesn't change anything. This place was fucked up before we came, and it's fucked up now. I personally don't believe we `liberated' the Iraqis. Time will tell.”