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Michael Yon on his great new book, Moment of Truth In Iraq.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

HH: A special conversation with Michael Yon, I believe now America’s preeminent war correspondent. He’s an independent reporter. You can read about him at his online journal, but mostly, you should read his brand new book, Moment of Truth in Iraq. It is out now, it’s been out for a month. Michael Yon, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, great to have you.

MY: Hey, Hugh, it’s so great to be on the show, and to be, especially to be back in America. I’m back for a short period. I’m down in Florida right now, so if you hear any barnyard animals, there’s actual animals around me, so please excuse me for that.

HH: Well, that’s fine. Congratulations, the book is extraordinary, and I want to talk to you in detail about it. You may know that Townhall Magazine is giving away a copy of Moment of Truth in Iraq for every subscription to Townhall. That’s how highly we think of it. By the way, the URL for that is That’s How’s the book been received, Michael?

MY: Very well, Hugh. The first print run of 30,000 was gone almost instantly. The print date was, or the pub date was April 23rd. So we went to another print run of 50,000. So it went out of stock in a lot of places for a while, like it got to number six on Amazon, I’m told, and then they went out of stock, and it got to number two on, and went out of stock. But we’re back in stock now, and it’s doing quite well.

HH: Well, it is linked at I’m sure it’s going to soar back up as people learn about it, Michael Yon, because it so accurately portrays the long and very difficult, but at the same time inspiring effort of the American military to bring peace and stability to Iraq. I want to start with Farah. The cover picture is of little Farah who died in a terrorist attack, being cuddled by an American soldier rushing her to help. Tell people the story of Farah, and why you believe, as your chapter says in the middle, Farah did not die in vain.

MY: You know, that’s an interesting thing that you said that. I mean, I took that photo on May 2nd of 2005 up in Mosul. A suicide car bomber had lined up to do an attack on some of our soldiers, and they were in Stryker fighting vehicles. And Farah, and about twenty other kids, had run out to…when they would hear the Strykers, they would run out and waive, and the soldiers throw them candy and that sort of thing. And Farah’s mother later said that she ran out barefooted, you know, to waive and get candy or whatever, the suicide car bomber, who could have waited two or three blocks to attack our guys, or at least do it away from the kids, just ran right, drove right through the kids and exploded, detonated right there, killed one boy outright, burned him up. And then, you know, Farah…a woman, I don’t know if it was her mother, but a woman ran out with Farah, and came to the first American soldier she could fine. Walt Gaya, this is a pattern I’ve seen over and over, when Iraqis get hurt, they immediately go to American soldiers. And Walt was pushing out to a sniper position, but…and that’s really where he needed to go. But when he saw Farah injured, he grabbed her and took her back to the medics. The medics started working on her, and then Mark Bieger, he’s the major who’s in the photo that’s on the cover of the book, he picked up Farah, wrapped her in that blanket, and started to rush off to the hospital, grabbed up a few of the family members, and rushed to the hospital with Farah. But she, unfortunately, Farah died, so that’s how that photo was taken.

HH: But you also write that shortly after Farah’s murder, this picture published all over Iraq and over the world, had a devastating effect on the terrorists. Farah’s death was not in vain. Is that still true? Because obviously, it did show the American military man at his finest, but also the cost of this war and its starkest.

MY: It sure did. It had a terrible effect on the enemy. I mean, that neighborhood, which was previously somewhat pro-insurgent, turned completely against them. And in fact, I mean, her family invited the soldiers to her funeral. They didn’t go because, you know, because it just wasn’t appropriate, but the intelligence community told me that, a couple of officers told me that when that photo was released, they got a huge amount of actionable intelligence. And you know, what we’ve seen there in Mosul, that was Nineveh Province, we’ve seen this repeated in other places like Anbar Province and Diyala Province, and down in Baghdad, where al Qaeda, in particular, does horrible things to people, and they just turn completely against them. I mean, the Islamic world and the Arab world are really turning against al Qaeda, and just for this kind of thing.

HH: You know, Michael Yon, I want to spend a little time on that. It’s a little bit out of order, but I’m going to jump ahead in the book to Page 136 where you’re talking about al Qaeda. And you’ve done a lot of work studying cults, you’ve done a lot of work studying gangs, all over the world. And you write on that page, “Iraqis love and greatly value their children. This makes children especially vulnerable as targets for terrorists. This is a brutal fact. The official had gone on to say that on a couple of occasions in Baquba, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy about eleven years old. When the family sat down to eat, their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family. My repeated attempts,” you write, “to verify this story failed to produce concrete proof, although many had heard similar stories. But the rumors showed how terrible al Qaeda’s reputation for atrocities had become among the local people.” And in another place, you write about exhuming a grave with Iraqi Security Forces, and in fact, you saw the evidence that they’re just butchers.

MY: They are. I mean, just a couple of days, or maybe one or two days before I heard that story, I was at a village just north of Baquba. It’s actually kind of contiguous with Baquba. And I published the grid coordinates of where this happened, actually. You know, al Qaeda had come in, the locals said it was al Qaeda, in the nearby places, and they had butchered everybody there. They had shot the adults, they had shot the animals, even, and beheaded the children. And I saw this with my own eyes. I photographed it. I made video and photos. It was unbelievable. I mean, they beheaded the children. So this is the kind of thing, you know, the Iraqis just have learned to hate al Qaeda. I mean, they are resurging, though, I mean, not all Iraqis. Not everybody’s gotten the memo yet, or the message. But a huge amount of them have just turned completely against al Qaeda.

HH: Now Michael Yon, I want to go to the end of the book, and then we’re going to go back and make a little more coherent your narrative there, which is very coherent in the book. I’m just jumping around to get some high points in at this first segment of our interview. At the conclusion of Moment of Truth in Iraq, you write that, “A powerful democracy in the Middle East is within our grasp, and nearly all the hardest work has been done.” Amplify that, if you will.

MY: It sure has. I mean, we came in, of course, we made a lot of mistakes in 2003 and 2004. But we really started to improve in 2005. In 2006, of course, the civil war was taking hold, but with al Qaeda taken out of the equation by 2007, or mostly, they’re still there, but they’re mostly, they’re not as big a factor as they used to be. We’re really getting to the point where we’re getting down to really building the country now. I mean, there’s still fighting going on. We’ve seen this was a rough month, April. But what we can see now is the Iraqi Army is dramatically better now than it was in 2005. The Iraqi Police, were more problematic than the Army are coming along, I see definite progress. And you know, I don’t pull my punches. I’ve seen a lot of progress even with the Iraqi government, despite the fact that it’s a corrupt culture. But I am very hopeful for Iraq.

HH: Let me tell people on the back of this book, the reason you can trust Moment of Truth in Iraq, the blurbs come from, of course people like Michael Barone and Joe Galloway, the author of We Were Soldiers Once, but unexpectedly from Brian Williams, from the Washington Post, from Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post, from the New York Times correspondent, Clifford May, from the Los Angeles Times, and of course, you’ve got General David Petraeus. So you have earned the respect, Michael Yon, I think because of your candor, of the entire spectrum of war observers both abroad and here at home. That’s a hard one, but I mean highly estimable achievement.

MY: I was so honored by the type of blurbs that I got for the back cover. I got an e-mail from General Petraeus just a couple of weeks ago about the book. It was a very nice e-mail. I just…I just feel honored, because these people know, General Petraeus knows, I don’t always write positive things about what’s going on, and sometimes, I’ll get messages from pretty senior people about that. But all in all, if you tell the truth, the good, the bad and the ugly, over a period of time…and I do want to win. I don’t hide that fact. I do want us to do well. You do end up getting, let’s say, some nice words coming your way.

HH: Once again, if you want to join with all these people in praising this book, you can get if for free if you order a subscription of Townhall Magazine,, or you can order the book itself over at I’ve linked it at Now Michael Yon, people like Command Sergeant Major Mellinger, we’ll come back to him, Lt. Col. Eric Kurilla, have they read the book yet? And what’s their response to it?

MY: Oh, Jeff Mellinger definitely has, because I just had a barbeque with him, actually, and his wife, Kim. He’s up in Alaska, actually, salmon fishing right now. He’s still on active duty. That guy has been in the Army almost 35 years. His brother was actually a sergeant major in the Marine Corps. But Jeff has read it, and I’m going to have another cookout with him, and probably Gary Sinise on about the 15th of May up in Washington, D.C. But you know, he’s read it, and he said he enjoyed it, and he was very appreciative and thankful.

HH: How about Col. Kurilla?

MY: Col. Kurilla, he’s actually off doing his duty right now, and not to go into further, into that, but his wife sent me a nice e-mail that Eric is off doing his job right now. So he’s on his fourth combat tour since he got shot.

HH: Wow. All right, we’re going to take a break.

– – – –

HH: It’s the best book, because Michael Yon has spent the most time at the tip of the spear, as the combat soldiers like to say, all over Iraq, also Afghanistan and the world, former Special Forces warrior himself. If you want to get a copy of it for free, all you have to do is subscribe to Townhall Magazine, Or if you just want to get the book, it is linked at And if you want to read Michael’s dispatches, it’s One of the reasons I send you there is drop some coin in his tip bottle there, because he is independent of all the journalism institutions of the United States. He works off of your support, and we’ve got to keep him in the field. Michael Yon, let’s briefly review for people your background in terms of the time, and what years you were in Iraq, so they know what you bring to this table when you reported this book.

MY: I first went to Iraq in December of 2004. I was a late comer, and I went after a couple of friends were killed in Iraq. One was an old Special Forces friend, Richard Ferguson, was killed on March 30th, 2004, in Samarra, and then another friend was killed, Scott Helvenston, was one of the Blackwater contractors murdered and mutilated in Fallujah. I went to high school with Scott. I went to their funerals, one was in Colorado, the other in Florida. And people at these funerals kept saying, military people, you know, you’re a writer, you should go the war, and I said no, I’m not going to the war, I’ve got no interest in doing war correspondence. But then in April of 2004, the same month as the funerals, Abu Ghraib broke, and I saw these photos, and I remember just thinking you know, we may have just lost the war because of what has happened here with the way this looks. And so, but I still refused to go, but throughout 2004, I had one friend, another friend that I went to high school with, who was then a lieutenant colonel in the Army, Rodney Morris, and he was in Iraq, and Rodney used to call me up and e-mail me constantly from Iraq, you know, come over to Iraq, you need to cover this war. And I kept saying Rodney, love talking with you, but I’m not coming to the war. But finally, in November of 2004, when we did Operation Phantom Fury, which was the second attack on Fallujah, I could tell that we were in the middle of a horrible insurgency that was just growing, and we were adding fuel to the fire. So I went there in December of 2004, and I stayed most of 2005. Then I went to Afghanistan for a short time in 2006, and then I went back to Iraq in December of 2006, and stayed most of 2007. And then I went back for two months so far this year, and I’ll be heading back again soon.

HH: So I just want people to know of which you speak. You have been there and done that, and I’ve got to tell you, I’m so thankful for this book for a number of levels, one of which is it caught me up short, had to stop, on Page 53. You tell the story of the patrol that was lost, of the Two-Seven, to the massive car bomb led by a Lt. Mark Daily. I know his mom and dad, had lunch with them, and I went to his funeral, and I’m glad you memorialized him. But my God, the stupid losses we’ve had in this war, for lack of a nail, as you write, Michael Yon. We just didn’t do this soon enough. We didn’t conduct the counterinsurgency soon enough.

MY: Right. I mean, we didn’t. I just listened to an interview on NPR today, actually it was taped, but they were talking about counterinsurgency. And it’s a very difficult type of warfare to wage. It’s the most complex type of warfare there is. And so in the beginning, firstly, we did not recognize that there was an insurgency, because those who called it an insurgency were basically branded as non-Americans for a while, because you know, we were getting the political spin from Washington that these were dead-enders, or whatever. But clearly, it was an insurgency. And so, until you recognize that you’ve got a fire, you’re not going to show up and call the fire department. And it takes a long time to retrain your military to conduct this kind of war. Well, that’s what General Petraeus and General Maddis from the Marine Corps, General Petraeus from the Army, you know, they set out to do with a group of very intelligent officers, wrote the counterinsurgency field manual, and then got that out there, and started to retrain the soldiers. And now they’ve successfully, they’ve been very successful at that. And now that General Petraeus, well, he’s in charge of Iraq right now, but he’ll be taking over Central Command soon. We’ve just seen a tremendous turnaround in our military, and their ability to conduct counterinsurgency.

HH: Well, that’s what I want to pause on, because people like Lt. Daily and Lt. Blecksmith, and 4,100 other Americans who’ve lost their lives there, and thousands who’ve been wounded there, they didn’t do it in vain. They’ve won. This country is stable, and al Qaeda is pushed back to Mosul, and we’ll come to that. But I want you to stress that, because you go there a lot, and you were just there recently. Explain to people in this audience, and especially to anti-war critics who are listening, and they are there, that victory’s in hand because of these sacrifices by heroes like Daily, Blecksmith and all the other men you chronicle in this book.

MY: It’s true. I mean, Daily was out there doing his job. I was there that day. It was…we had a bad day. But we were making tremendous progress. One battalion of Americans along with their Iraqi counterparts held Mosul for a year, which was incredible, because there were other things going on in other parts of Iraq. We couldn’t sacrifice the troops to go elsewhere. But we have really crushed down al Qaeda to the point where their last vestiges are mostly in Nineveh Province up near Mosul. They’re trying to resurge in Diyala, but I mean, they’re just being crushed down. We’ve made a huge amount of progress, the Iraqi government finally has enough breathing room that it can actually start making some real decisions, and we’ve seen recently when the Iraqi government…many Sunni, by the way, have complained to me for at least a year now that the Iraqi government, mostly Shia, would not take on the Shia militias. Well, they just did. And that’s why we saw the increase in violence in April. I mean, they are clearly going heads-up with some of the militias. And so this is important. The progress is very real. And it’s…we’re making it step by step.

HH: Michael Yon, I’ve also got to compliment you. I had never heard of the 1920 Revolution Brigades until I read your book. And that’s not because I’m ignorant, it’s because I read all this stuff, it’s just the detail in Moment of Truth in Iraq is at a level and a degree of explanation that’s simply not out there. And I think it’s because, other than John Burns and a couple of others, I don’t think anyone’s spent enough time in Iraq to really translate what’s happening there to us until your book came along.

MY: You know, it takes a long time to develop the context. And unless you’re willing to invest that time, and it’s tough, you know, that’s why there’s not so many folks that do it. But unless you’re going to spend the time, you can’t develop the context. But the 1920 Revolution Brigades, they were a very effective enemy against us. They were mostly comprised of former regime elements, many ex-army officers and soldiers. They were very effective, they were serious fighters, but they turned, but they were more pragmatic fighters. They’re not like al Qaeda in the sense that al Qaeda, you’ve just got to find them and kill them or capture them, demoralize them, do anything you can. But you’re not going to ever negotiate with them, whereas the 1920’s, they had more…the things that they wanted were more concrete. They wanted more power in the government, they wanted these kinds of things. Those are things that you can work with.

– – – –

HH: Michael Yon, I like the fact that the theory of the war is in here, as well as riveting war reporting. And I want to go to one part of that, which is your criticism of the U.S. military as “politically dense and media illiterate.” Is that changing? I think it is, because of the outreach I’m receiving from Iraq, from people like Major General Rick Lynch and others to come on the show live from Iraq. It didn’t happen three years ago. It’s happening now. I think maybe you’ve been a part of that turnaround on their part.

MY: They’re definitely improving. There’s no question about that. They have really…they’re more agile than they seem. They’ve learned that the media is an incredible part of the battle space when it comes to counterinsurgency. And part of that is back home. You’ve got to explain to people why this takes so long, why we have so many difficulties, and why…give us time, we can make it. That’s what they have to do. And they’re doing an outreach. They’ve been reaching out, trying to get their message out, and they’ve been successful, increasingly successful. They were not very successful under Sanchez and what not. I mean, General Sanchez, they were not at all, actually. But now, under Petraeus, I just see great improvement.

HH: Now Michael Yon, I know you’re not political. You avoid being political, in fact. I appreciate that. But yesterday, or on Sunday on Meet the Press, Barack Obama said look, after I’m elected, they get sixteen more months, and we’re out of there. What’s your reaction to blanket statements like that, whether from left, right or center, that, you know, a timetable?

MY: Wow, that’s shocking that he would say that. He said yesterday, sixteen more months and we’re out of there. Is that what he said?

HH: Yes.

MY: That’s shocking.

HH: After he’s elected. So he says then we will have been there a total of seven years, and if they can’t stand up at that time, they’ll never stand up. And I’m paraphrasing, but that’s very true to what he said.

MY: That would be catastrophic. I mean, we spent a huge amount of blood and money over there, and we’ve seen a tremendous amount of progress. But if we did do something like that, it would be catastrophic. It would be a complete loss.

HH: All right, let’s go back to the actual war reporting. I’ll tell you, I was exhausted at the end of your recounting of the Battle of Baquba in Operation Arrowhead Ripper. You were right in the fray of this a lot. I don’t think you possibly can convey this, but hat’s off to you. But the exhaustion level among troops who fight in that heat in those close quarters, with such attention to avoiding civilian casualties, I love the fact you point out, they’ll just fall down and sleep wherever they are for as long as they can.

MY: They would. I mean, you would come into a building that’s been bombed out and what not, and there’d be soldiers laying on the ground, and it was hot, it was very hot. You know, this is June and July, and I mean, really, really exhausting heat. Soldiers were getting heat exhaustion, and had to be med-evac’d sometimes for the heat, and they would just crash down in their body armor, and weapon next to them, and fall asleep. Other guys would be on guard duty. And then they would get up and keep fighting.

HH: Let me compliment you on your eye for detail. Never go on a patrol with people with dirty windows. Explain to people why that is.

MY: Well, you know, especially towards the end of their tours, soldiers, they realize they have to be more alert toward the end of their tours, that the closer they get to the end of their tour, the more they start thinking about being back at home, and they start talking about girls, or going to the races, or something, you know, buying a new car if they’re young soldiers, and they stop paying attention to what they’re doing, and they stop…for instance, paying attention to the rooftops, and the places where a sniper might be, or a bomb might be. And you’ll see, you know, when they’ve got dirty windshields, they’re not looking for small wires across the road, which could set off a bomb that can obliterate them. And so you can’t see these little wires when you’ve got dirty windshields. And so I’ve noticed over a long period of time, and so many countless missions that I’ve been on, that if they’ve got dirty windshields, you just have to say I’m sorry, guys, I’ve got pneumonia today. I’m not going on this mission. I’ve started to avoid missions with people that have dirty windshields.

HH: You know, I think that’s why your book is going to become required reading in a lot of the commands across the United States for lessons like that one.

– – – –

HH: Michael Yon, a couple of things here. The surge has been misunderstood as being separate or responsible for the entire turnaround of events in Iraq. It’s a part of it, but also the Anbar awakening was part of the sheiks deciding that they’d had enough of this. Can you explain to people why the sheiks get some credit, a lot of credit, for what has happened here?

MY: Right. You know, when al Qaeda started doing their barbaric acts, which was early on, by 2006, and out in Anbar in particular, the sheiks were tired of it. They had reached out to us, they wanted our help to help them fight al Qaeda, and they reached out to us, and finally we joined forces with them. So that was before the surge. And then in 2007, when the surge began, early 2007, we had already pretty much ejected most of al Qaeda out of Anbar Province, which a lot of people saw as being a lost cause, even as late as 2006. But so then al Qaeda moved to places like Baghdad and Arab Jubur, Baquba, Mosul, they really went to other places. And so when the surge occurred, more troops came in, but we also used different tactics. We pushed those troops off of the bases, and out into the cities, to these COP’s, or combat outposts, which were proving to be very effective, you would see, open up a new COP, and you’d start getting intelligence, the very first day, about where the bad guys are. And so, I mean, once the people realized you’re there to stay. And then with the extra troops, we had the ability to conduct operations like Arrowhead Ripper, where on June 19th, we attacked al Qaeda in Baquba with the help of 1920’s Revolution Brigades. And so all these things conflated, added up to a very serious turnaround.

HH: You also describe in detail some of the tactics that are required for the success of counterinsurgency operations. There’s one vivid story, you’re out on patrol with Staff Sergeant Lee, USMC, and there may be an IED in a culvert, and rather than ordering the Iraqi Army to go in and clear it, Staff Sergeant Lee goes in on his belly to do so, you follow him in, and the moral of that story is you’ve got to demonstrate to the Iraqi Security Forces that you’ve got the guts to do what is necessary to win the war.

MY: And that’s true, and that’s where we see…you know, in the beginning of the Iraq war, a lot of the Iraqis thought, for instance, that American body armor was air conditioners. They thought that we had, they still think, many of them, that we have cold pills, in other words, pills that you can take to keep you cool in the hot weather. So they thought that we were weak. But they’ve seen over time that…they had the impression that the only way that we could beat people was from missiles from afar, that kind of thing, and jets. But they’ve seen that our people on the streets, United States Marines and the Army, when it comes down to street level fighting, man on man, house to house, we are tougher, better fighters than they are, and just as courageous as anything you’ll ever see.

HH: But also, I want to stress this, and very good men, I mean, just extraordinary men of valor, but also of honor and dignity and of tenderness and gentleness at the same time. It’s an extraordinary portrait that you put out here.

MY: Right. You know, at first, they saw that as weakness. At first, they saw that as oh, you’re tender-hearted, therefore you’re weak. But over time, you can…you know, you can prove to somebody you’re a bad guy in one minute. But it takes a long time to prove you’re a good guy. And so over time, they’ve seen that our guys, our soldiers and Marines, are tough, capable fighters, but they’re also very good to the Iraqis. They love the…I don’t know what it is about combat soldiers and Marines, but the more combat they see, the more they like kids. And you’ll see them, the Iraqi kids are actually very easy to like, because they’re always out there smiling, and they always want to say hello and whatever. So the soldiers and the Marines get along very well with the kids, and this has gone a long way to developing bonds also with communities. And so there has been a lot of intangibles that you really can’t quantify in any kind of numbers, but we are influencing Iraq just because of the incredible credibility that our military brings.

HH: And the leadership style of teaching, Lt. Col. Johnson in the chapter Walking Tall – Tonto and the Mayer, about how to teach civilian leadership in Iraq to be leaders. I mean, it’s an extraordinary lesson in how you’ve got to stand up and go in, and Lt. Col. Johnson, what a guy.

MY: He sure was. I remember that Johnson, he really had his work cut out for him – him and many others, actually. One day you’re doing combat operations, and then later in that day, they’re doing detailed negotiations or whatever, or tribal meetings. And one thing that we were trying to do that point is, that was Operation Arrowhead Ripper that you’re referring to, when we attacked al Qaeda in Baquba, but the first thing that we wanted to do afterwards is open up the food distribution back to Baquba. It had been cut off from Baghdad because al Qaeda had controlled Baquba, and they wanted that food distribution open so that the people would see that the government is now supporting them. And Fred Johnson, I detailed some of the events in Moment of Truth, he did stellar work and got that distribution going.

HH: I also want to point out an observation, I should have known because I’ve been around military bases a lot, but you point out American military run bases all over the world, so they know civilian reconstruction, because they run little cities all over the world. And they show people how to solve problems. It’s a remarkable sort of gift to the Iraqi people.

MY: It’s true. I mean, the military is like a microcosm of America insofar as…listen, if you’re going to be a commander who runs a military base, you have to know how to administer a city. You have hospitals to think about, you have school systems, you have police, military police, you’ve got judicial systems, you’ve got sewage and food distribution, electricity, you’ve got the whole gamut.

HH: Cooking…skill sets.

– – – –

HH: Michael Yon, thank you for a great book, Moment of Truth in Iraq, and for a wonderful hour. Let me review for people, if you want the book for free,, buy the magazine, get the book. If you want to get the book via, it’s linked there, and you can always go to to help him keep in the field. Michael, I want to conclude with General Petraeus. And some fascinating history in this book – I haven’t touched on the Brits, I haven’t touched on money as the ammunition in counterinsurgency, I haven’t touched on the Battle of Mosul, the Battle of Baquba. There’s so much I can’t do, but I want to finish on what you call the prime directive of political war, drawn from General Washington’s directive to Benedict Arnold, and how David Petraeus has internalized this, and demonstrated it, and just let you sort of explain why he has brought such momentum to the effort in Iraq.

MY: Well, the moral high ground is everything, and General Washington, you know, way back a long time ago, demonstrated that he had a clear knowledge of counterinsurgency. I mean, our nation was founded on insurgency against the British. But the moral high ground is very difficult to keep, but it’s everything in this sort of warfare. That’s why we have been able to turn the tide on al Qaeda and just start crushing them in Iraq, because al Qaeda doesn’t care about the moral high ground, and we do. It’s very difficult to keep. And so the U.S. military has become, I started to notice in early 2007, it has become the most trusted institution in Iraq. I mean, by 2008, it’s very clear to me, as I travel around, that the Iraqis want to know what the local American commander thinks about something before they make a decision. And so this is all based on moral high ground, not just money. I mean, they want to hear what the American said, because they know he is good to his word.

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