War, in its many hues, is hardly understood ever. Sebastian Junger, war correspondent, goes deep in the trenches with American platoon in Afghanistan, and gives us ‘War’, an outstanding war report. But what caught my attention in this Economist review is the question the author asks – what is the reason of soldier’s “good-tempered acceptance of, indeed sometimes relish for, appalling danger”?
Mr Junger is more interested in the war as it is experienced by the American soldiers, mostly white 20-somethings, with whom he eats, sleeps and very often nearly gets killed… He is in awe of his fellows’ fighting skills and mostly good-tempered acceptance of, indeed sometimes relish for, appalling danger. This leads him to a broader inquiry into why this is generally true of modern soldiers.
The main reason, Mr Junger observes and numerous studies have confirmed, is love. The Americans in the Korengal, heroes by the standards of any warrior culture, are not especially religious or patriotic. They show little interest in the war overall or allegiance to the army at large; indeed, they cheer other units’ misfortunes. Rather, with passionate intensity, they fight for each other. “What the Army sociologists, with their clipboards and their questions and their endless meta-analyses slowly came to understand was that courage was love,” Mr Junger writes. “In war, neither could exist without the other.”
Tom Peters too have a word on this ” It’s all about the relationships, duh“?
It will be interesting to know how team of soldiers arrive at this point. Do such a team also goes through stages of, say, Tuckman’s model?