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“Generation Kill” : America's First Generation of Disposable Children


Simon Wollers
Radio Havana Cuba

A new book titled "Generation Kill" which explores the lives of US soldiers sent to Iraq, is causing concern by those who support the US role in Iraq in spite of the fact that it is not openly against the war.

Written by Evan Wright who covered the Iraq invasion for Rolling Stone magazine as an embedded reporter with a US battalion, the book is a compilation of accounts, thoughts and deeds by young people from the US serving in Iraq.

Most of the young men and women serving as privates in the US army come from poor backgrounds. They usually joined up because there was no other way out of their ghettos or their lives. Subtitling the book "Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America and the New Faces of American War", these young people are what Wright calls "America's first generation of disposable children," saying that many among the soldiers he was with in Iraq were on "more intimate terms with the culture of video games, reality TV shows and internet porn than they are with their own families."

Although Evan Wright was witness to human rights violations by the very men he writes about, he keeps his story to their voices. We see what a Financial Times reviewer calls "this generation's obsession with violence - how the largely virtual world of America's teens seamlessly transposes itself onto the battlefield." Wright recalls one young man returning from a fire-fight excited by the similarity of a video game he plays at home.

There's worse. Wright describes a generation that doesn't need much of an excuse to kill in a world bereft of principles that teach no morals to the young. He describes how the soldiers called their unit the "First Suicide Battalion," and openly sought combat, describing the physical, moral, emotional, and spiritual horrors they went through.

Violent US youth subculture, says the Financial Times, has long been a curiosity abroad, but it has now been driven to unprecedented levels of contact with an ancient civilisation which it does not understand, and which does not understand it. The result is "grisly and tragic, and ultimately self-defeating for the US and its allies."

"More than anything," continues the newspaper, "the decisive shift in Iraqi public opinion against the occupation in recent months has come about due to contact between Iraqis and these young men and women."