Tea time while pulling security

Ma Deuce Gunner:

How Many soldiers fighting “illegal” wars, who “steal oil” and “oppress” the populace get offered to join a family for tea during a patrol? Anyone?? Anyone?? Beuhler??

That’s what I thought.

No doubt we’ll hear from Juan Cole and similar types about how the Arabic words he tried to use weren’t quite right and how just because you’re in Iraq doesn’t mean that you understand what’s going on in Iraq blah blah blah.

“Win their hearts and minds.”, they say. In this little microcosm of Iraq, a curb in a neighborhood under the desert stars, “Mission Accomplished”.

I shall never forget the 10 minutes I spent with this family. No conversations of substance transpired, no earth shattering foreign policy formed. Simply hospitality and gratitude; just smiles, body language and handshakes. For a while, there was no fighting, no explosions, no terrorist possibly lurking around the corner. Even though I was in full combat gear, sharp steel sheathed, ammunition and explosives strapped to my chest, rifle slung at my front, for a moment, I was just a guy enjoying a hot beverage and some candy with the neighbors.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Our men and women in uniform are America’s finest ambassadors.


  1. On a warm January day, in 1990, I was participating in a REFORGER exercise in Germany. On the edge of a small town, my unit started the process of shovelling the mud back onto the farm we had used for our refueling site (the site was picked, but no one anticipated the weather to warm so quickly; Bradley & Abrams quickly tore up the farm). Just before dusk, a German couple exited thier front door with a steaming pot of cider and plates of cookies. After I helped them set up in thier front yard, they cheerfully passed out thier treats to all the soldiers that were nearby. This was a pleasant difference to the protests we witnessed on a usual basis.

  2. There are always a few bad apples, though. See: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,15740306%255E2702,00.html. The problem here is that iy is more than just that. Justice is not seen to be done, with the result that the USA gets associated with the bad apples – it isn’t distancing itself enough from them. For all I know, this was the right decision – but that hasn’t been established. The effect was much the same in Italy, after no visible steps were taken after the plane/ski lift tragedy. Please note, I’m not trying to condemn the individuals involved, or the justice decisions. I’m just pointing out that this is a terrible sort of ambassador. That’s a very different point.

  3. Good point. You are right that there are always a few bad apples, or apples in the wrong place at the wrong time, or apples portrayed as bad simply because they’re American apples. That being said, I still believe that our troops are, on balance, our finest ambassadors.