I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve (a) written the following sentence and (b) not been talking about George Will:

I haven’t met Ali Khedery, at least I don’t ever recall doing so, but having spent a significant amount of time in Iraq his story rings true to me, especially the bit about Maliki cracking down on his Sunni opposition. I vividly recall spending a tense hour or so parked in the middle of a central Baghdad street with my Iraqi counterparts after they were ordered to arrest a prominent Sunni politician in mid-2007. The Iraqi Brigade commander, himself a Sunni, was ordered by Maliki’s office to conduct the raid and he in turn asked me to come along as an advisor. I informed my higher headquarters and was en route to observe the raid when I was stopped and ordered not to continue – we didn’t want to get involved in internal Iraqi politics. I returned to base and the Iraqis continued the raid, which didn’t result in anything as the politician in question had fled in advance of (and possibly with prior knowledge of) the raid.
I offer Khedery’s column as much for its subtext as for its substance. The story I tell in "In the Ashes" is a story of hate. Religious hate. There’s a wonderful character in the screenplay which is based on a gentleman who does exist and did work for me as a linguist. Abu Time is a Christian in a country extremely hostile to Christians. Indeed, they’re actively hunted down and killed in many quarters as a consequence of their faith.
Late one night about a week after he came to work for me, Abu and I walked back from our workplace at the Joint Security Station to our quarters. He told me how proud he was to be working again, as he’d been essentially unemployed since the US invasion of Iraq. He’d spent the evening translating an Iraqi plan to provide security for the Ashura religious holiday, and as we walked together he said something I’ll never forget. He thanked me for giving him the opportunity to work again, even if that meant he was translating "the plans those sons of bitches have" to protect their worshippers.
His words were less important than the hate with which he espoused them. We talk a lot about hate in this country – religious, ethnic, racial, cultural. But in that moment I realized we haven’t cornered the market on hate. Actually, in the World Cup of hate, we wouldn’t make it out of the group stage, if in fact we made it to the tournament at all.
For the America-bashers, this is a hard concept to grasp. Those who desire to fundamentally transform this nation need it to be a deeply flawed, hateful nation. If that hate doesn’t exist they need to manufacture it.
There is actual hate in the world. Deeply seeded, culturally ingrained hate. Some of it does exist in America but on a global scale the percentage is inconsequential. Real hate not only exists but blossoms in the Middle East and it’s unclear to me what mechanism exists, beyond the total annihilation of one side by the opposition, to stop it.
Protestants and Catholics fought long ago about things we think are silly today. Sunni and Shia are fighting a similar war and one can only hope, and pray, that they’ve learned something of history.