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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lines of Literature: Baghdad at Sunrise

I wouldn't actually call this account of a brigade commander's duty in Iraq "literature," but it was an interesting, detailed telling of retired Colonel Peter Mansoor's service in Baghdad in 2003-2004. I admit that I began skimming about half-way through, mostly because I don't have the time to give this book, which is due soon at the library. Also, I'm still reading the The Coldest Winter (hardcover, 736 pages!) and can't bring myself to skim it--it is too interesting.

"Baghdad at Sunrise" refers to the dawn of a new era in Iraq and, one hopes, the Middle East itself. Col. Mansoor's book helped me understand better the missteps and challenges that faced America in the "post-war" Iraq, but before the so-called surge. In fact, his book helps one understand why the "surge" was really the only sensible strategy. Even so, after reading the book the best quote I can share is the one that was quoted in the book review that initially interested me in the book. Near the conclusion, Col. Mansoor writes:

Fifteen months after my return from Iraq, I was invited to a cocktail reception on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. After discovering that the son of the host and hostess was interested in military affairs, I suggested that since the United States Military Academy was just upriver from New York City, perhaps he should consider applying for admission. The hostess blanched, put her arm around her son's shoulders, and replied, "No, no, no! He has much more important things planned for his life." She then patted me on the arm and said, "But I'm glad we have you people to protect us." Such attitudes among the nation's elite, if unchecked, could in time lead to a crisis in civil-military relations in the United States, defeat in the long war against Islamist extremists, and the eventual collapse of Western civilization. (p. 352)

The condescending attitude toward what was once the most honorable of all educational paths is discouraging. But it also reminds me of a parallel attitude in spiritual matters. Do we have that mother's attitude about our kids when it comes to their spiritual calling?

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