“Q is a military man who just returned from Afghanistan, and has also spent considerable time in Iraq. Q is unflappable and unfoolable, and he knows from extensive personal experience what is in the hearts and minds of all too many citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan. Had he heard Hamid Mir’s soothing words, he would not have been misled for a single moment: he has seen too much, and knows too much.”
— from the comments by Robert Spencer here
This is the main hope: the officers and men who, though they were told nothing except pieties about Islam and about how to be “culturally aware,” nonetheless discovered certain home truths on their own.
They found out about Islam, and what it teaches, and what attitudes naturally arise among those who consider themselves Muslims and live in societies suffused with Islam.
They learned that while Muslims may try to wheedle money or other aid out of powerful Infidels whatever they can, they will never feel permanent or heartfelt gratitude to those Infidels. Why not? Simply because the Infidels remain Infidels, and the Muslims, Muslims.
They learned that among all too many Muslims the idea of the “nation-state” hardly matters — or that it matters far less to Muslims than it does to non-Muslims, for among Muslims who value the teachings of traditional Islam, the real divide is between Believer and Infidel.
They learned that a Muslim’s loyalty extends in concentric circles outward, from himself to his immediate family, to his extended family, to his tribe, and sometimes to those who share his ethnic or sectarian identity. But it does not extend to the idea of “Iraq” or to “Afghanistan,” or indeed to any administrative unit known as a nation-state. Instead, it may extend to the umma — the worldwide Muslim community.
They learned that Islam is full of violence and aggression, and without any spirit of compromise (an idea anathema to Muhammad), so that those who think the Sunnis and Shi’a will be able to compromise, with the former accepting their new, reduced role in Iraq, one that more accurately reflects their numbers in the total population, and with the latter somehow yielding enough power to satisfy Sunni demands, are ignoring the nature of Islamic societies and of Islam.
They learned that those who sent them off on a messianic mission did not know, and certainly did not provide any guides for others to know, about Islam. How could the Administration, after all, send troops to Iraq in order to “help the Iraqis” who “all want freedom” and to “help them create a new Iraq” if they had also explained to those soldiers the real tenets of Islam, and the 1300-year-old split between Sunnis and Shi’a, and the Arab supremacism which the Kurds keenly felt, and which is rooted in the very nature of Islam, and goes back to its very origins?
They learned that the generals themselves did not know, and never made time to find out about, Islam, instead accepting the ludicrous reading lists provided by such people as John Esposito and others of that ilk (see here about “The Reading List of General Vines”).
They learned that the civilian leadership, both Republican and Democratic, largely consists of people too busy to sit down and study on their own. Instead, they are too reliant on brief summaries prepared by junior aides who are not likely to know much themselves, and certainly not to have the self-confidence to deviate from the accepted alternatives (Bush’s messianism or the unrealistic “realism” of Baker and Scowcroft). These are people who are eager to substitute for reality their own sense of things derived from meetings with smooth, outwardly westernized, plausible Arab diplomats and exiles and other nonrepresentative representatives of the Arabs and Muslims. For example, in what way did Prince Bandar represent the real Saudi Arabia, except insofar as he was a master of deception well-versed in leading American Infidels by the nose (a skill naturally valued among Muslims)?
May people like Q rise high in the army. May they rise high, if they choose, in politics. May they exploit their exploits for the sake of getting elected, and then changing the atmosphere, and the understanding, first in Washington, and then, by degrees, in the other capitals and countries of the West.