by David J. Rusin, Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2013 (view PDF)
Editors’ note: This article discusses many public figures in the context of the positions they held in December 2012 when the article was submitted. There has been much turnover in government and military posts since then, but the problems caused by political correctness remain despite the changes in personnel.
As U.S. service members risk their lives to combat violent jihadists abroad, military leaders, both uniformed and civilian, capitulate to stealth jihadists at home. By bending to Islamists’ appeals for religious sensitivity, these leaders ignore the most crucial lesson of the Fort Hood massacre: Political correctness can kill.
The War on Training
The U.S. Army seems to have succumbed to PC-Islamist sensitivities. It has issued a special handbook for soldiers that appears to justify jihad as “communal military defense … when [Muslims] are threatened or under attack.” In addition, U.S. servicewomen have been urged to don head scarves when interacting with Afghan locals while all soldiers are warned to “respect Islam” in order to prevent violence there.
A key battleground in the war of ideas between Islamists and the West is military training because Islamists seek to suppress knowledge of their beliefs and goals. This campaign hit high gear in 2011 when journalist Spencer Ackerman of Wired launched a series of articles documenting “offensive” training employed by various government agencies. He highlighted, among others,FBI materials stating that Islamic doctrine calls for war against non-Muslims and equating greater religious devotion with the potential for violence.
On October 19, 2011, dozens of Muslim groups, many Islamist in nature, signed a letter to John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism advisor, with a copy to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, demanding that the administration “purge … biased materials” and jettison “bigoted trainers.” However, Panetta’s Department of Defense was already on the case. Five days prior, Jose Mayorga, deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, had directed the Joint Staff to compile information on the “current processes used to vet CVE [countering violent extremism] trainers.”
The Islamists’ most notable scalp to date—presented to them by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army general Martin Dempsey—is that of Matthew Dooley, a decorated Army lieutenant colonel who had taught at the Joint Forces Staff College of the National Defense University. At issue was Dooley’s course on Islam and Islamic radicalism during which he spoke of Islam as an ideology, not just a faith, and war-gamed provocative scenarios in which it would be confronted as such.
A colonel enrolled in the class complained to his superiors, leading to the course’s suspension in April 2012. On May 10, Wired published course materials focusing on a handful of slides conjecturing about “total war” and taking the conflict to civilians, but which also included a disclaimer that the specific counter-jihad model …read more