Spencer Ackerman explores and explains the importance of eating the local food when fighting an insurgency:
One of the things that struck me when I embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is how little local food I ate. When I met some friends for drinks in April 2007 after coming a month in Baghdad and Mosul, one of the first questions I got was about local Iraqi delicacies. Man, I said, I ate king crab legs with a plastic fork on a huge base around the Baghdad airport, courtesy of KBR. Or rather I tried, since you can%u2019t eat king crab legs with a plastic fork.When I went unembedded in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2006, I got the real deal, a wonderful interplay of Persian, Arab, Turkish and other influences, at every meal. Lots of pickled beets. Lots of grilled lamb and fish. Something I%u2019ve never had before or since %u2014 tender beef meatballs in a pomegranate and beet broth, almost like a Kurdish version of matzoh ball soup. At the fake Sheraton in Irbil, the second floor hotel features a Chinese restaurant, where short-order Kurdish cooks interpret Chinese food through their own prism of anise. My chow fun tasted like the end of American hegemony.
“There’s a reason that counterinsurgency mantras include Get Off The FOB and Don’t Commute To The Fight. The greater the distance — not just physically, but also culturally — from a populace, the fewer opportunities U.S. troops have to demonstrate to that populace that U.S. actions are in their interest.”
Do read the whole thing. It’s fabulous.