The future of Iraq — and indeed, the entire Muslim world — lies with moderate-minded youth who yearn to live relatively free and peaceful lives.
Ryan Mauro is absolutely right: Moderate Muslims do exist and they are not an anomaly in the Islamic world. In fact, moderate Muslims may actually be the majority in countries like Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
I know because I served as a Marine in Iraq and met hundreds of Iraqis throughout the country. My fellow Marines and I were greeted as liberators; and we were toasted as heroes. The Iraqis we knew and worked with were good and decent people who aspired to live free and peaceful lives.
Indeed, they befriended us; welcomed us into their homes; broke bread with us; and shared with us their hopes, their dreams, and their aspirations. The year was 2003. However, I have stayed in touch with Soldiers and Marines who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since then; and their stories comport with my own.
Sure, there’s combat and firefights and some people who hate you and who want to kill you; but that’s not all there is, not even close.
In fact, for every dramatic incident of combat that you see on television, there are hundreds of less dramatic moments involving the hard and difficult work of tribal and provincial reconstruction. It’s called counterinsurgency warfare; and our Soldiers and Marines are now expert at waging this fight.
The point isn’t that violent extremists and jihadists still terrorize the Islamic world. Of course they do; no one denies that. The violent extremists and jihadists, however, are a very small minority of the overall population, which is far more moderate and peaceably inclined.
Problem is the Islamic moderates are often cowed and intimidated by the radicals, which is why they require American help and assistance — and specifically American military help and assistance.
And don’t listen to the polls. Polls in terrorized and war-ravaged countries with a history of brutal repression are notoriously unreliable.
People simply don’t always answer pollsters’ questions honestly because they fear getting killed or beaten later for saying the wrong thing. They’ve seen violence and murder inflicted upon too many of their neighbors and loved ones to ever risk that again.
Trust one poll, and that is the poll of American servicemen and women who continue to answer the call, who continue to volunteer to serve, and who are re-enlisting at record rates. Trust that poll because it is the surest indicator of what is really happening in the Iraq and Afghanistan. Trust that poll because you know our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines don’t lie.
Trust that poll because the sky-high morale of our troops tells you all you to know — namely, that the global war against radical Islam is winnable and, in fact, is being won.
Our troops know this. They realize that they are making a tangible difference in the lives of ordinary and grateful people. They know that they are, quite literally, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable (or at least the comfortably evil).
So they enlist; they reenlist; and they volunteer for the fight. They are truly the greatest generation; and one day they will be recognized as such. And that day will be, perhaps, not-that-many years from now, when Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan are independent, peaceful, and beginning to enjoy economic growth and a more dynamic civil society.
For these reasons, no one should have any doubt that there are moderate Muslims: because our troops really have no such doubt. Indeed, that’s why they fight — and that’s why we must support them.