Those People All Look The Same Anyway
FOR the past several months, I’ve been wrapping up lengthy interviews with Washington counterterrorism officials with a fundamental question: “Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?”
A “gotcha” question? Perhaps. But if knowing your enemy is the most basic rule of war, I don’t think it’s out of bounds. And as I quickly explain to my subjects, I’m not looking for theological explanations, just the basics: Who’s on what side today, and what does each want? . . .
Take Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who is vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence.
“Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?” I asked him a few weeks ago.
Mr. Everett responded with a low chuckle. He thought for a moment: “One’s in one location, another’s in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don’t know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something.”
To his credit, he asked me to explain the differences. I told him briefly about the schism that developed after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, and how Iraq and Iran are majority Shiite nations while the rest of the Muslim world is mostly Sunni. “Now that you’ve explained it to me,” he replied, “what occurs to me is that it makes what we’re doing over there extremely difficult, not only in Iraq but that whole area.”
Gee Terry, if you had done your homework, oh say BEFORE the war, do you think your outlook on Operation Iraqi Freedom would have been quite this rosy? Or maybe these facts are why your
parroting of the party talking points prognostications upon returning from Iraq in 2003 have proven less than prophetic:
Congressman Terry Everett, R-Alabama, returned May 27 from reviewing military efforts in Baghdad and Kirkuk, Iraq, over the Memorial Day weekend. The trip was the first Congressional delegation to view the current situation in Iraq and meet with American military personnel.
“I was more than pleased with what I saw,” Everett said of his visit which also included Kuwait, Italy and Germany.
“Ambassador Paul Bremer gave us a good overview of America’s progress in securing and stabilizing Iraq,” Everett continued. “Efforts are underway to bring order to the streets and quickly restart Iraq’s infrastructure and service systems. . . .
“It was an inspiring sight to see how the Iraqi people were greeting us and how they are now working to weave together the many threads that will make a new, free government for them,” Everett observed.
Nah. Facts don’t matter; you’re a politician. Your life isn’t on the line.