Michelle Malkin and Bryan Preston are safely back from their stay in Iraq. Malkin's Vent on the trip is here. I've been reading Preston's write up of the trip too and was particularly struck by these two, entirely contradictory, passages.
First this- "Underlying that, Islamic principles don’t foster individual freedom so much as they command modes of behavior, and that culture informs every single aspect of life in Iraq. An Iraqi federal police colonel who lives a very secular lifestyle underscored this to me when he said, in a meeting with US Army troops present, that if Ayatollah Sistani tells him to fight the Americans who are currently training his forces to take on the terrorists, then he will fight us. Islamic loyalty would trump common sense and any notion of freedom, since he knows full well that taking on the US Army would result in his own death and more destruction in his country."
And then, a little later, this - "Communities like Al Salam and Khadimiyah in Baghdad prove that at the end of the day most Iraqis value security and the chance to have a normal life above any notions of jihad and sectarianism, and we can work with most Iraqis to make their country safe."
Evidently this is not the case if a secular officer would turn his gun on his current colleagues of so ordered. He values jihad above security and a normal life. Given that, and the fact that he was prepared to admit that right in front of American troops, there seems to be a certain disconnect between Preston's assertions that most Iraqis value a comfortable life above jihad and his own personal experience of being told that current loyalties, love of country and even self-preservation mean less than the duty to conduct jihad.