One particularly infuriating time, I was in the town of Irbil in northern Iraq, being driven to a meeting with a Kurdish political leader. We were on a narrow stretch of highway with no shoulders and foot-high barriers on both sides. The lead Suburban in our convoy loomed up behind an old, puttering sedan driven by an older man with a young woman and three children.
As we approached at typical breakneck speed, the Blackwater driver honked furiously and motioned to the side, as if they should pull over. The kids in the back seat looked back in horror, mouths agape at the sight of the heavily armored Suburbans driven by large, armed men in dark sunglasses. The poor Iraqi driver frantically searched for a means of escape, but there was none. So the lead Blackwater vehicle smashed heedlessly into the car, pushing it into the barrier. We zoomed by too quickly to notice if anyone was hurt.
Until that point I had never mentioned anything to my drivers about their tactics, but this time I could not contain myself.
"Where do you all expect them to go?" I shrieked. "It was an old guy and a family, for goodness' sake. Was it necessary for them to destroy their poor old car?"
My driver responded impassively: "Ma'am, we've been trained to view anyone as a potential threat. You don't know who they might use as decoys or what the risks are. Terrorists could be disguised as anyone."
"Well, if they weren't terrorists before, they certainly are now!" I retorted. Sulking in my seat, I was stunned by the driver's indifference.
And we can't figure out why we aren't winning in Iraq?