May 26, 2004

Hanging with Capt. Abby

I’m happy to report the troll fumugation program is going well. The comments are not only a lot more civil, but more engaging. I’m learning from my own commentariat again.

Yesterday a certain person said we war hawks really need to learn more about Arabs. I’ve been reading piles of books about the Middle East for years now, I’m currently trying to learn the Arabic language (boy, is it hard), and I’m going to that part of the world myself in couple of weeks. Perhaps I can be excused for thinking such a charge is arrogant nonsense.

Anyway, one commenter who goes by TmjUtah posted a terrific response that’s also a great story. The reason I took action to save the comments is because I love reading great posts like this one that get published, almost by magic, while I am sleeping.

I spent two weeks in Jordan, back in the eighties.

Since their artillery practice happens from hardpads with known locations and aiming posts set in concrete, surveyors didn't have much to do. I ended up being the liasion NCO for our Host Officer. Nice guy, told us to call him Capt. Abby. He and his sergeant/bodyguard hosted us at the Amman/Baghdad truck terminal souk one evening. It was an excellent experience, and renewed my parents' lessons for me while growing up: you cannot hate people in groups.

See, after burying my best friend after Beirut, my intended goal for any liberty time in Jordan was to catch an Arab or two in any convenient alley and gut them like fish. I had a lot of hate back then, and Capt. Abby caught the vibe. Of course I was properly respectful for our guest (superior rank, royalty, host, and all that) but there's a difference between formal and agreeable.

Anyway, after listening to the truck driver's and sheepherder's songs and poems about life, dreams, family, and tribe over coffee (sloppy full cups) and the strongest tobacco I've ever smoked, I got the strangest feeling these boys could fit in at the Penwell Truck Terminal at the end of a long day...just they wouldn't be drinking any Coors.

I believe that people are just people. Each man makes calls and every man is responsible for choosing his path. Without my experience driving that Jordanian around I would have been one of those people wanting to see the mideast east of Israel turned to glass.

I also believe that the conflict before us is one that is unavoidable; we are not consciously committed to ending Islam but our very existence ensures the death of the religion because societies that embrace it cannot compete with western, capitalist societies. They are the ones who adopted jihad.

Anyway, that was many years ago. I have read the Koran three or four times by now...read commentaries, learned the timeline of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the yeast tray explosion of that creed through the Arab mideast. We have a muslim center up in Salt Lake; I've spoken with imams there more than once since 9/11.

CAIR is the Sein Feinn of al Qaeda. No more, no less.

These days I'm just trying to keep up with the world and decide what to do with myself since I don't survey any more. Capt. Abby got promoted out of zone, and now runs Jordan as King Abdullah.

Don't tell me I need to know more about Arabs. Thanks.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 26, 2004 7:21 PM
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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