Friday, May 11, 2012

US military tells recruits to wage "total war" on Islam

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon]

Here’s a thought experiment: suppose that an extremely sophisticated and well-equipped Muslim-majority army was found to be instructing its officers that a “total war” on Christianity was required; this war being waged on Christendom’s “civilian population wherever necessary”, with the “historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima [and] Nagasaki being applicable” to Vatican City, Bethlehem and the Christian quarters of Jerusalem. None of us, I hope, would dispute that this was the most fantastic and wicked fanaticism; the sheerest and most abominable religious lunacy.

Yet switch the above religions around, and insert “Mecca and Medina” in place of the Christian cities, and you have – verbatim – the material with which officer recruits at the US Defense Department’s Joint Forces Staff College were being enlightened by one Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley until April of this year.

What does one even begin to do with such a piece of information? No doubt it will do wonders for the claim – reiterated by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri just this week – that US troops in the region are the twenty-first century’s “Crusaders”. It’s worth pointing out, therefore, that Dooley’s course was dropped after complaints from the students themselves, and that it was denounced by Chief of Staff Martin Dempsey as “totally objectionable” and “against our values”.

At the same time, this is but one in a long list of such incidents for the US army, whose ranks have been increasingly poisoned by a hideous Christian chauvinism for some years now. The late Christopher Hitchens – no dove on ‘War on Terror’ matters – wrote in 2009 of the “clique within the United States military that is seeking to use the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as an opportunity to mount a new crusade and to Christianize the “heathen””. And the intimidation and marginalization of less devout troops has grown so intense that nonbelieving soldiers have felt compelled to form groups, such as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers, whose websites enumerate in sobering detail the daily infringements of religious freedom that the American constitution is supposed to protect.

If the US is serious, therefore, about confronting dangerous religious ideology, it has plenty to be getting on with in its own armed forces. The dishonorable discharge of Matthew Dooley – who is at present merely “suspended” – would be a useful start.

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