We meet to exchange leads, socialize and just generally build strong networks of fellow business people. Each meeting we have a guest speaker that gives a 30-45 minute presentation. We have had speakers from the Art Car Parade and Museum of Fine Arts to the Anti-Defamation League and Houston Electric Vehicle Association. You name it, we have had it a speaker on the subject.
On Wednesday mornings I attend a business networking breakfast club called BNA (Business Network Alliance.) I have been a part of the group for a couple years now and cannot say enough good things about the people involved and the effect it has had on my company’s bottom line.
Today’s speaker was a bonus. Tracy Vercher – a good friend and former member of the group that has spent the last year in Iraq as a contract security specialist. His military training along with his expertise in martial arts made him a natural fit for the civilian contract position. Tracy went to Iraq because he was “tired of hearing all the griping about things and decided to do something about it.” He came to our group to share with his friends what he calls the “real Iraq.”
Tracy gave us excellent information on what he sees every single day on the ground, and he says it is vastly different than what the media is showing us. On television you see mud huts riddled with bullet holes and tin doors – you see gaping holes from truck bombs and crying babies – you see angry militants and overzealous marines. What Tracy sees every day is a whole lot different.
This wasn’t a glossed-over pro-war talk. Tracy talked about the tragedies going on each day – he talked about mortar rounds and small weapons fire heard each night – he talked about booby trapped vehicles – he talked about losing six good men to various ambushes, men that he drank coffee with, went on patrol with, laughed and joked with. But he also talked about the people of Iraq. He talked about seeing the majority of the people getting up each day and going to work. He talked about them going to Burger King and Subway for lunch. He talked about them washing their Toyotas and Chevys in their driveways. He talked about the Iraqi lady who tends to her rose garden just outside his apartment. He talked about Iraqis watering their lawns… let me say that again – watering their lawns!
Have you ever seen a blade grass on a newscast about Iraq? Have you seen people shopping at the grocery store? Talking to friends on their cell phones? Watching their satellite television? How about buying a hard drive at the computer store? It is happening every day – THAT is the norm. Sunni and Shia Muslims eat lunch at the cafe along with Kurds and Bathists – it is no different than a restaurant here – the Baptists, Methodists and Catholics eat at the same place without shooting each other. Tracy states that the AIF (anti-Iraqi Forces or insurgents) are an extremely small minority… and they are not fighting for religion or freedom – they are fighting for power.
Some of these AIF had power before Saddam’s regime was toppled and they want it back. Some of them were not in power and just want to fill that vacuum. The bottom line is that despite the rhetoric you hear in the news – they are fighting to control the country… not because of their religion, but because Iraq has the 2nd largest oil reserves in the world. Power and money is what they are after – the people of Iraq do not support them. They support the fact that they are living in a progressively more free society. They support the foreign troops and contractors working to rebuild their infrastructure. They support movement toward a new Iraq.