Moral Low Ground


“The United States Is at War with Islam”: Joint Chiefs Chairman Orders Review of Military Schools after Anti-Islamic Curriculum Revealed at Joint Forces Staff College

Are US troops learning to hate Islam? (Photo:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has ordered US military schools to review course materials to ensure that no anti-Islamic themes are being taught following the revelation that students at one such school were told that the United States is at war with Islam.

According to the New York Times, the chairman, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, ordered the review after students at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia came forward to question some of the material they learned in a class called Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism. The class, taught to midlevel officers at the Norfolk school, contained course material which Lt. Gen George Flynn, Dempsey’s deputy for training, described as “inflammatory.”

Gen. Dempsey told the Times that instructors and guest lecturers at the school were apparently “advocating ideas, beliefs and actions that are contrary to our national policy, inconsistent with the values of our profession and disrespectful or the Islamic religion.”

Among course materials was a slideshow which included the assertion that “the United States is at war with Islam and we ought to just recognize that we are at war.” 

“That’s not at all what we believe to be the case,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby stressed. “We’re at war with terrorism, specifically al-Qaeda, who has a warped view of the Islamic faith.”

Kirby said the “war with Islam” incident was “just one example.”

“These assertions are not in keeping with our principles or ideas,” he told the Times. “We believe the right thing to do was to suspend the course do to some of the things that were presented in the course.”

But convincing many in the Muslim world that the United States is not overtly hostile toward their religion will be a hard sell. This has been a tough year in the war for Muslim hearts and minds.  In January, a video was leaked which showed US Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Afghan resistance fighters. That incident was followed by a plea deal that spared Marine Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who led his men on a bloodthirsty murder rampage in Haditha, Iraq, from serving any prison time. Twenty-four innocent Iraqis, including children, died at the hands of US Marines during the Haditha massacre. The following month, US troops mistakenly burned Qurans, leading to violence which killed 30 people, including six Americans. Last month, US Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales massacred 16 innocent Afghan civilians, including nine women and three children, in Kandahar province. And earlier this month, more grisly photos of US troops posing with dead Afghan resistance fighters emerged.

There is also a widespread feeling among the world’s Muslims that the United States really is at war with Islam. At the start of America’s War on Terror, then-President George W. Bush declared that the United States was on a “crusade,” which evokes the same response among Muslims as the word “jihad” does among Americans– only with a much stronger connotation.

Later, when faced with the “why do they hate us” question, top US general Jerry Boykin opined “because we’re a Christian nation. We are hated because we are a nation of believers.” Boykin, who believes that Bush was appointed by God, wanted to fight jihad with jihad: “Our spiritual enemies will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus.” Boykin also called Allah “an idol.”

“I knew that my God was bigger than his,” he said of a Somali warlord. “I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”

The Christianization of the United States armed forces has also alarmed many Muslim observers. From Bible quotes on former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s intelligence reports to BIble quotes engraved on American weapons used to kill Muslims to repeated Quran desecrations to racist and Islamophobic troop training meant to demonize and dehumanize the enemy, there is plenty of ammunition for those who claim that the United States is indeed at war with Islam.

Moral Low Ground does not believe that our nation is at war with Islam. Nor do we believe that most of our military leaders are, either. But the persistence of anti-Islamic incidents such as the recent offensive training material utilized at the Joint Forces College demonstrates the need for continued vigilance and competent oversight to ensure that this sort of behavior is minimized. For when all is said and done, incidents like this incite violence against US troops and hatred of the United States itself. It is in our nation’s best interest to see that anti-Islamic materials are never again used in our military schools.

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