|The Guardian, the BBC and the Daily Mail have today covered the news that an optional course taught at a US military college in Virginia contained teaching material which instructed officers that there is no such thing as ‘moderate Islam’, that Islam is the enemy of America, and that Hiroshima style attacks against the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Madinah could be envisaged.|
From the Guardian:
“A course for US military officers has been teaching that America's enemy is Islam in general and suggesting that the country might ultimately have to obliterate the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina without regard for civilian deaths, following second world war precedents of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima.
“The Pentagon suspended the course in late April when a student objected to the material. The FBI also changed some agent training last year after discovering that it, too, was critical of Islam.
“The teaching in the military course was counter to repeated assertions by US officials over the past decade that America is at war against Islamic extremists, not the religion itself.
“"They hate everything you stand for and will never coexist with you, unless you submit," the instructor, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley, said in a presentation last July for the course at Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. The college, for professional military members, teaches mid-level officers and government civilians on subjects related to planning and executing war.
“Dooley also presumed, for the purposes of his theoretical war plan, that the Geneva conventions that set standards of armed conflict, are "no longer relevant".
“He adds: "This would leave open the option once again of taking war to a civilian population wherever necessary (the historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki being applicable to the Mecca and Medina destruction decision point)."
“His war plan suggests possible outcomes such as "Saudi Arabia threatened with starvation ... Islam reduced to cult status".
“A military service record summary provided by army human resources at Fort Knox, Kentucky, shows that Dooley was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation from the US military academy at West Point, New York, in May 1994. He has served tours in Germany, Bosnia, Kuwait and Iraq. He has numerous awards including a Bronze Star medal, the fourth-highest US combat award.
“In what he termed a model for a campaign to force a transformation of Islam, Dooley called for "a direct ideological and philosophical confrontation with Islam", with the presumption that Islam is an ideology rather than just a religion.
“He further asserted that Islam has already declared war on the west, and the US specifically.
“"It is therefore illogical" to continue with the current US strategy, which Dooley said presumes there is a way of finding common ground with Islamic religious leaders, without "waging near total war".
“The course on Islam had been taught since 2004…It was offered five times a year, with about 20 students each time.”
Mark Mardell, the BBC’s North America editor, adds that, America's top military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, has condemned the course as "totally objectionable". General Dempsey said the course “ran counter to our values of appreciation for religious freedom and cultural awareness" and was "just objectionable, academically irresponsible".
The BBC states that "...not surprisingly, Gen Dempsey has ordered a full investigation into what other US military schools might be teaching about the religion.”
The investigation to be undertaken in light of this revelation is not without merit given a former incident involving FBI training manuals which portrayed offensive and inaccurate information on Islam and which seemed to suggest that infringing Muslim civil liberties in counter-terrorism efforts was justified.
As Mark Mardell comments on the BBC, “As far as I can see this is not intended in any sense as a rather sick academic exercise in stretching the bounds of what could be thought. It is actually what the officer teaching it believes.
“In other words: completely nutty stuff that would disgrace the wilder fringes of the blogosphere.
“What does seem rather surprising is that all those commanders, captains and colonels must have sat through the course and not felt the need to tell someone that something rather weird was going on.”
More surprising still is the use made by defence and intelligence academies of so-called ‘Islam experts’ in their training programmes. As noted by Islamophobia Watch, the FBI defended its invitation to US Islamophobe and co-founder of the Stop Islamization of America movement, Robert Spencer, in August 2010. And closer to home, the Defence Academy at Shrivenham has frequently invited Dr Patrick Sookhdeo to talk about Islam and ‘Islamism’.
Given the spate of recent incidents of US soldiers abusing their role in Afghanistan, posing with bodies of mangled corpses, urinating on Afghan bodies, burning copies of the Qur’an at an airbase in southern Afghanistan, the Abu Ghraib scandal and the killing spree of a US soldier last March in which 16 Afghans were killed, one can only wonder whether what these academies have been found to be teaching has had an impact on the attitudes displayed by US soldiers and officials towards Muslims at home and abroad.
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