Desperately short of soldiers who speak Arabic and understand Islam, the U.S. military is quietly courting American Muslims. But they show little enthusiasm for an institution many say is prejudiced against them.

At the peak of violence in the Balkans no one thought that the PFC named Milosevic in our unit, with his Serb nationalist t-shirts and bluster about ETSing and going back home to join the freedom fighters, was anything but a 19-year-old blowing smoke. He was a bit of a freak, but not because we thought he was down with cleansing an ethnic population. No one questioned his loyalty or capability to do the job he was assigned. Same goes for all those in the unit we didn’t ask (we didn’t really have to) and who themselves didn’t tell. There was no purge of latinos (hispanics?) in the IC after Ana Montes was sent up the river. In the military its capability, not ethnocentricity, that counts. That has to be communicated to the target population, along with hard numbers about who is really abused because of their religion in this country. If the foiled kidnap plot against a Muslim soldier in the UK is any indication, eligible and willing Muslims are probably better off joining the fight than sticking with their ostensible friends.

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