I guess it's Ramadan again. One Ramadan I was down in Zamboanga drinking beer, at a streetside cafe, in the day time, with Filipino Scout Rangers. The whole 'alcohol' thing isn't such a big deal there, and many of the Scout Rangers are Catholic. Islam is a powerful force in the area, but for the most part even the self-described Islamic groups aren't insane (like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which offered last year to help free a kidnapped priest). There are a few that are: Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. Still, even in the "Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao," even most militants aren't what we Americans sometimes call "Islamofascists." The vast majority of people aren't militants, at that.
One Christmas I was in Iraq, and received -- along with Iraq's few remaining native Christians -- the congratulations of the government of Iraq on the birth of Jesus. Of course there were still Al Qaeda operatives moving in the country at that time, still suicide bombings, still Iranian agents fomenting trouble. (There are yet.) Mostly, though, the people of Iraq are just folks. Even most of the ones who fought us, the militant, worked with them only from fear. They were ready to become Sons of Iraq when the option appeared. They were generous hosts, and kind friends when fate allowed you to be friends. When it didn't, they were dangerous enemies. I can respect that.
Iran remarked the occasion too, sort of. Their leaders don't love us, and do practice a dangerous variant of Shi'a Islam. Still, again: there's a lot of folks in Iran we could leverage -- or for whom we could be a lever, if we dared.
In the comments to a recent post NickC asked me if I would condemn 'bigotry' aimed at the Cordoba House. I said:
You raise a good point on the subject of gravity wells, though I would hesitate to condemn the anti-Cordoba House position as simple bigotry. It's easy to understand the intensity of anti-Muslim feelings for those who live near Ground Zero... What's motivating them is a very understandable rage over a murderous attack in their neighborhood.
Asking them to let go of that rage is not asking them to stop being foolish bigots, and rise to the level of ordinarily decent people. It's asking them to rise above the level of ordinary people, and do something heroic in a noble cause. Until we can see that, no useful discussion can take place; but with that understanding in place, you can see how we might proceed.
It may very well be that Ground Zero is too close for a mosque. It may be that this particular set of people is not playing straight. I don't know all there is to know, and I won't think the least bit badly of people who oppose it. On the other hand, we need to find institutions in the Muslim world -- here in America or elsewhere -- that can serve as gravity wells. We start by looking for organizations we may not wholly approve of, but where there is at least some good. Like the way the Banser in Indonesia deploy to defend Christian churches during the holidays, against their co-religionists of a more radical bent. It's important not to make the mistake that this man makes.
That can be hard to do, this many years into a war in which all of our enemies have Islam as a common characteristic. It is certainly easier to make blanket statements ("No more mosques!"). Nevertheless, it is heroic to do better, and look closer. It marks the unity of several virtues, the warrior virtues of courage and magnanimity, and the religious virtues of charity, and hope. We should always be looking for enemies who don't have to be, and giving them enough road to make an honest choice.
Some of them, we'll have to kill. Not all. Not even most.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.