This may have been meant to be a slur against American troops in Iraq, I'm not sure (I'm never quite sure where stands this publication), but it had me cracking a smile, knowing the personality of our boys. These youngsters are in the middle of a GD fucking shitstorm over there, of course they're going to use all at their disposal in the second-to-second situations they face all the time so as to make it home to base one more night. Wouldn't you, stuffy Economist writer?
Lining the southern road to Fallujah, an important supply-route for the insurgents, the towns are patrolled but not controlled by American marines. Among the many violent crimes common in the area, kidnapping is a speciality. The standard view of British soldiers as smiley peacekeepers compared with America's trigger-happy killers is too simplistic--as the expenditure of bullets in Amarah suggests. But it is true that British soldiers are better at building trust with locals, and are slower to shoot at suspected enemies and more careful to kill them when they do.
This is not because they are better disciplined than the Americans, but because their training is different. Where British troops aim to expend no more bullets than is necessary, American troops, confident in their logistical support, aim to vaporise their foe in a storm of fire. Against many determined assailants--if not in a thronging market place--the American way may sometimes be best.
Btw, as dull as The Economist can be most of the time, it goes nowhere near the level of abject dullness that oozes from the pages of The New Yorker, a publication Tom Wolfe brilliantly puts as "The land of the living dead." Bravo, Mr. White Suit man (this could be a terrific "Real men of genius" spot).