So if I can’t persuade Andrew Sullivan, perhaps the Iraqis can. After all, they’ve lived with our “standard operating procedure” every day for more than five years. Who knows the Army better than they?
So, Mr. Sullivan, I have a few questions for you: If “the ghastliest forms of racist, dehumanizing, abusive” practices are our “standard operating procedure” why do the al-Qaeda terrorists I’ve seen (and I’ve personally been face to face with more than 100) often visibly relax when they enter Coalition custody? Why do they so frequently and readily surrender rather than even try to escape our allegedly vicious detention? Why do they sometimes plead to remain in our facilities? If individuals are arbitrarily “dragged off the streets” for “torture and abuse,” why do civilians, including the smallest children, pour out of their homes to see and greet American soldiers when we walk through their villages? Why do they hide behind their mud and stone walls only when they fear reprisals from our enemies or suspect an imminent firefight? If we are such monsters, why do sheikhs and everyday citizens beg for us to stay with them, rather than living in dusty combat outposts in the heart of their communities?
Perhaps Iraqi citizens would shut their doors in fear if they learned about the army from Mr. Sullivan’s columns rather than from their personal interactions. Perhaps insurgents would fight to the death every time rather than face our “racist, dehumanizing” detention if they attended a panel discussion at your average university. Perhaps children would run screaming in fear if they saw almost any of Hollywood’s recent “important” films about the war. But they don’t see any of that. Instead, they see and experience the U.S. Army as it is, warts and all. And while they chafe at the presence of foreign soldiers (as any proud people would), they are making their choice. For more than five years they have seen the contrast between our soldiers and the terrorists and militias. And unlike Andrew Sullivan, they can tell the difference.
Because nothing less than history is at stake (and so few have seen the truth with their own eyes), it’s time for those of us who’ve been here to set the record straight. We must testify to the brutality of our enemies – just two days ago, al-Qaeda thugs in our area of operations shot a two-month-old infant in the face. More importantly, we must bear witness to the courage and virtue of our brothers- and sisters-in-arms.
Some try to define the 99 percent through the actions of the 1 percent.
We can never let that happen.
– David French is a senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund and a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve. He is winding down his first deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.