Top Ten Ways the US Military can Avoid Teaching Hatred of Muslims

The Pentagon brass are condemning a course on Islam taught at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., which mischaracterized mainstream Muslim persons and organizations as radical, violent extremists, and called for treating the Muslim civilian populations the way the Japanese at Hiroshima were treated. Those who took the class were encouraged to think of themselves as a ‘resistance movement to Islam.’ A review has been ordered of that class and of hundreds of others taught within the Department of Defense.

Note that there are 1.5 billion Muslims and only 310 million Americans, and Muslim countries like Turkey and Indonesia are now in the G20, so this is not a fight you’d want to pick with the Muslim mainstream.

Spencer Ackerman of the Wired War Room reported on the course and also shared some of its powerpoint slides on line.

Aljazeera English also received material and broadcast on the controversy:

What is odd is that the US military is deeply dependent on Muslim allies, and Muslim officers train all the time at places like Ft. Bragg, where I have met them. That is, American officers and Muslim ones are most often colleagues and do a lot of things together. How could they sit there and listen to Lt Col Matthew Dooley’s bull crap?

In my experience, the US officer corps is made up largely of very bright people and most of them are well informed, about the Muslim world and many other subjects. I’ve had the privilege of addressing them myself at think tank events in Washington DC on subjects such as al-Qaeda’s recruitment videos and the fringe groups’ ideas about cosmic war. But since there are lapses in any organization, here are some helpful suggestions to the military about courses on Islam:

1. Such courses should be taught by people with academic credentials in the study of Islam. Many officers do a Master’s degree in Middle East studies at major universities (I’ve taught them at Michigan). They have the training to teach. But why not also bring in civilian university teachers with Ph.D.s from good universities?

2. Bringing in the Imam of the local mosque, or better, doing a field trip to a mosque, should be an essential part of such a course. Meeting living breathing American Muslims is necessary if Americans are to understand Islam.

3. Some bigot who happens to have been stationed somewhere in the Muslim world, has read Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes and Brad Thor fiction, and has a lot of crazy ideas is not a proper teacher of such a course.

4. The less our officer corps sounds like Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, the better.

5. Deliberately killing civilians is a war crime. Officers who openly advocate such a course of action should be cashiered.

6. The Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt now has the largest number of seats in parliament in Egypt. It is not an extremist, violent organization, and US political relations with Egypt now depend on Washington getting up to speed in understanding it. A kindred group, the Nahdah or Renaissance Party, has the prime ministership in Tunisia. Officers who provoke international incidents with foreign governments by making false allegations against their parliaments should be drummed out of the service.

7. If you can’t say it about Jews or Catholics, you can’t say it about Muslims.

8. The one thing that would guarantee a century-long war of religions and massive terrorism against the United States would be for it to bomb Mecca. Why Muslim-haters are fixated on this tactic baffles me. Would Christianity disappear or be weakened if someone nuked the Church of the Nativity? Sunni Muslims don’t have a pope-like figure or a central bureaucracy, and neither is at Mecca. It is just a place they visit on pilgrimage. The Kaaba or cube-shaped building that they walk around has been destroyed many times by flash floods and they have just rebuilt it. By destroying it, you’d just enrage them (the very threat enrages them) and provoke them to revenge on the US, without weakening them in any way.

9. If intelligent officers sit through a course in which the teacher seems to be a maniac and says hateful and implausible things, they should, like, object.

10. The Iraq War is over. The Afghanistan War is winding down. The US military is unlikely to be fighting ground wars against Sunni Muslims in the next decade. Turkey is a NATO ally that the US is sworn to defend from attackers. Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Bahrain and Afghanistan are non-NATO allies of the United States. An officer advocating war on mainstream Muslims is making policy that only a president and a Congress can make. He should be drummed out of the service.

30 Responses

  1. The people those compiled the manuals are the main culprits; they must know what kind of manuals they are preparing. They must know their motives. How Pentagon can say they do not know what is in the manuals? This ignorance is the strangest thing to believe. How such a vitriolic & in accurate manual can go out in the class as a teaching manual.

    Pentagon should carry out a thorough investigation, find out who are the people behind these manuals so damaging to the interest of the USA.

    These people should be court marshaled & brought to justice. They are the real culprits. They did it deliberately to damage US interest among 1.5 billion Muslims around the globe

  2. Dooley proposed taking the war on Islam to the Muslim civilians. Anwar al-Awlaki advocated killing American civilians. Two Americans advocating slaughter. Awlaki was killed. Dooley will be re-assigned and reprimanded.

  3. “If you can’t say it about Jews or Catholics, you can’t say it about Muslims.”

    Exactly. Because the end result is that if you empower sectarian violence, it will turn on you. Once you say about Muslims, it WILL be said about Jews and Catholics. It’s just a matter of time.

    • FancyNancy, maybe I am misreading your comment but it sounds like you are either OK with saying “it” about Muslims but not Christians and Jews, or you are trying to convince Christians and Jews not to say it or else they will eventually get the same treatment. I have an idea, lets not say “it” about Muslims because as the article clearly shows, its counter productive to most decent and well meaning people around the world. Oh BTW, I am a Muslim and I am a very loyal American.

  4. Funny how all this Islamophobic propaganda keeps popping up in anti-terrorism training programs for the military and law enforcement all over the country. Such wide distribution cannot be a random coincidence.

    Is there a concerted program to inject this disinformation into the training programs? If so, who are its patrons and inside agents?

  5. What is going to be done to correct the misinformation that those who have been through the course have already received?

  6. I’d like to offer another helpful suggestion:

    11. The Joint Forces Staff College probably has records of every person who was exposed to the offensive material. Gen. Dempsey and the Joint Chiefs should require them to attend remedial courses.

    • Like the lawyer who spews out some “prejudicial inadmissible” tripe in a jury trial before an objection and ruling from the judge can happen, the folks who drum up all this tribal spear-shaking know that no amount of “instruction to disregard” will un-ring the bell, or put the toothpaste back in the tube.

      I personally doubt that humans will learn to manage, let alone master, the ugly and destructive parts of their nature, in this and in areas like economy-trashing and planet-demolition, before the active few like the colonel and the rest have catalyzed a reaction that will kill most or all of us.

      And maybe they even believe they are “doing God’s Work, since He’s so dang SLOW at it…”

  7. This post doesn’t manage to address the question of whether this was a glimpse into the reality of the DoD mindset toward Islam, ie: an implicit but almost always suppressed posture, or if it is genuinely the work of a few fringe kooks.

    Most of the commenters are going for the kooks version, but then, how was such material successfully produced and disseminated? What process is followed? And doesn’t the fact that this process was successfully negotiated offer strong evidence that the content of the material is congruent with DoD thinking?

    It is the same question as lingers over Abu Graib – aberration, or something sanctioned by the entire system.

    We can argue either scenario, but please, let’s not immediately jump to the conclusion that this problem is simply the instructor or the producer of the training manuals – they clearly felt themselves to be expressing a view that was consistent with the aims and thinking of the US military and it is that which requires far greater pause for thought re: implications.

  8. Notwithstanding your observation about our officers, other than (perhaps) junior officers who are just passing through, these guys now have careers based on accepting and doing what they are told.

    Someone with the confidence of a pertinent masters level course at a reasonable university would certainly know better, but he’d keep his mouth shut. There’d be positively no upside in rocking the boat, and to do so for the sake of his/her integrity would be a mark against him as a team-player, however assinine the lecturer might later be proven to be.

    That bears repeating: unless their “lesser opinion” is invited (as in a staff meeting or seminar), their job is to not to question beyond clarification, and even if a whistleblower is right, and acknowledged as such, within the organization they will be tagged as an unreliable part. There are, in fact, special places for such units, but in general they would stand to be disgarded and these guys know it.

    • Speaking of which, there was a tangentially related piece on 60 minutes last week about a couple Air Force officers who weren’t going along with their organization’s program when their very lives were at stake.

      That being the case, they became whistleblowers. Somewhere I saw a study about whistleblowers, where inevitably the world of formal organizations found such characters to be persona non grata. The best anyone has done, and I think it was that woman who blew the whistle on Enron (Sharon Watkins?), was to work through a speaker’s bureau, giving presentations to corporations about ethics.

      Think about what this means.

  9. “there are 1.5 billion Muslims compared to 310 million Americans” Reduce that 310 million to exclude Muslim Americans, Hindu Americans, Buddhist Americans, Atheist Americans and many other non-Christian or non-Jewish Americans. I’m guessing the comparison would be even more astonishing. Take out the black and oriental Americans as well. I’ve never seen a band of blacks or orientals hating Muslims. So who really does hate them now that it is narrowed down?

    • Those forces indoctrinated to attack fake enemies abroad will be available to attack fake enemies at home. I guess since our forces completely bungled the mission of getting even one Moslem country to be our obedient colony, the masterminds behind this were putting all their chips on the domestic option, where the odds would be a lot more favorable to them.

  10. I notice also that, in addition to the bigotry, the course material, which I downloaded a copy of, says the following: “As a professional soldier, you have a Constitutional oblgation- by law and oath, to assess all threats, and if necessary confront and defeat all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and “your oath as a professional soldier forces you to pick a side here.” This from a Lieutenat Colonel? Does he believe that professional soldiers have the obligation to pick fights and choose sides? This undermines the authority of the nation’s policy-makers in favor of the soldier choosing to fight whomever he assesses to be a threat to the United States.

    I say that a professional soldier does not have the luxury of choosing fights, and must follow all lawful orders issued by the commanders, who follow the orders of the civilian leaders of the country, in defense of the nation.

    In other words, it seems that LTC Dooley is also a bit of an anarchist who is working to subvert the constitution. This is especially ironic considering that the same page of the course says the following: “The 1st Amendment offers no protection to anyone actively working to impose a system of laws that subverts our constitution.” I agree with that last statement.

  11. maybe some good will come of this.
    Maybe the Air Force will get back to its core mission and get out of partisan politics, race-baiting, institutional hatred, etc.
    One can hope.

    • The Christian Right has obsessively targeted the USAF, especially at the Academy in Colorado Springs, where many theocratic leaders are located. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has fought this tirelessly, but clearly high-ranking sympathizers within the service are protecting these indoctrination efforts.

      However, the very idea of an Air Force is essentially ideological and thus political. Recall Billy Mitchell; he was an acolyte of Douhet as were founders of the RAF. Douhet claimed that strategic bombing of civilian populations would make war unthinkable; the pursuit of this discredited faith (at least short of nukes) by Mitchell’s lieutenants led to the very political Strategic Air Command led by Curtis LeMay (later George Wallace’s running mate in his ’68 White House bid).

      I’ve gotten so angry about it that I’m convinced the nuclear religion of LeMay is simply merging with the apocalyptic religion of the theocrats, with a shared goal of overthrow of the government.

      • The merger has been accomplished, Super.

        I bet you even know about Pantex, the private bidness in Amarillo, TX that “maintains” and assembles “our” nuclear weapons. The quotes on “our” are to express my skepticism that all that destructive force is really there for the general welfare, as opposed to the welfare of the Generals. Pantex is staffed by people who beleeeeve it is their duty to advance the Apocalypse and get themselves Raptured. “I got my salvation,” sayeth the bomb-building Rapturist-Apocalypticist, “you DESERVE to be incineradiated for your unbelief in my version of All That Is That Matters.”

        Here’s the pallid version, with vague references to a few problems at this plant that handles billions of kilotons worth of naked force: link to

        And here’s a slightly more chilling take: link to And for a look back in terror: link to

        And remember: “Our” nukular deterrent is the foundation of Pax Americana. The biggest ones are currently “operated” on all our behalf by those Xtianists in the Air Force.

  12. None of the GWOT invasions and occupations are justified anyway, so discussion of people’s religion, even if it were true, should not be a part of military training unless it is to help the invaders have some clue on what they are doing.

  13. What’s new, a corrupted military? President Eisenhower warned in 1961 about the Military Industrial Complex, MIC.

    The US military is strongly influenced, if not controlled by those controlling the MIC, the billionaires whose main goal is to make themselves and their puppet millionaires filthy rich by all means, legal and illegal including illegal wars.

    Maybe some of these billionaires strongly influence or control the out-and-out “fraud” in the financial industry, the FDA, the Federal Reserve, a privately owned corporation.

    Money, wealth, power and egomania ARE THE ROOTS OF ALL EVIL.

    America needs a president and politicians that are honest, non-secretive, truly intelligent, humble, experienced, traveled and with wisdom, integrity and spirituality that will represent the 99.4% of Americans. Out with the story telling, manipulative and lying legally educated bums. In with such qualified academics. Such a president would truly help to heal America and the world. He would have the chance to become the greatest president in American history.

    Guess who for President?

  14. This is not happening by blunder. Christian extremist organizations are pulling every string they can to get their “experts” teaching propaganda courses to government employees and the military.

    Specifically their fake anti-terrorism experts:

    link to

    And teaching missile crews that God supports nuclear war:

    link to

    But also many other areas of military life:

    link to

    link to

    link to

    link to

    link to

    It’s even happening at the state and local level:

    link to

    The theocratic movement spits at the government, yet loves the parts that wear uniforms. Which should tell you something about what they’ve got planned.

  15. Speaking as a retired Lieutenant Colonel (USAF/ANG) –

    For those not familiar with the military, a Lieutenant Colonel at the Pentagon is NOBODY. The Pentagon is so full of Generals and Admirals that even a full Colonel there is NOBODY.

    Not sure how this Dooley ended up having that much influence.

    • Have you forgotten Lt Col Oliver North? L/C’s are guys with just enough smarts and just enough knowledge and experience, to make a difference in a specific scenario while falling on their sword for the convenience of their betters.

      Not to say, however, that another career on Fox news wouldn’t await them, as proven by North and his GS opposite number, G. Gordon Liddy.

      • North didn’t work at the Pentagon, but at the National Security Council. There’s a big difference. A Lt. Col. can, indeed, be a big wheel at the NSC, or even the White House, but there are so many stars at the Pentagon that nobody cares.

    • this guy wasn’t at the Pentagon.
      He was an instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College, which is in Norfolk, VA. I think this was an elective course, so the students selected whether or not to attend.
      I presume that most knew what the course was going to be about before registering. Up until the one whistleblower attended, I presume that all other students were of a similar mind. That’s the scariest p[art of this story.

      I have done some analysis and consulting at the National Defense University in DC, the capstone DOD academic institution.
      I was with the State Department program to train Afghan Police for a while.
      I saw a bit of anti-Muslim bias institutionalized in both of those, as well.
      It starts at the top.

  16. “4. The less our officer corps sounds like Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, the better.”

    Most thinking people recognise that the US is no longer a Democracy but an an Oligarchy. I would have thought that the 1% do not want the officer class taught by ‘experts’ or University Professors, but want Anders Behring Breivik clones who will not bat an eyelid when eventually finding out that an invasion of another country, with the resulting loss of life of 100’s of thousands of civilians, supposedly because it had WMD’s, was actually just to secure energy supplies and to destabilise the ‘enemies’ of Israel.

  17. Usually, I would react with pride to Professor Cole’s mention of Indonesia, but given today’s cancellation of a Lady Gaga concert in Jakarta thanks to a small but vocal Islamist movement tightly linked to the police, I cannot.

  18. An analogy would be the situation of white supremacists (or black supremacists, for that matter). Although there is no basis in law for singling them out, the military goes to some lengths to keep these people out, while law enforcement routinely assumes that such groups will be on the other side, i.e. enemies. Is this wrong? Because if you can say it about the Nazis, you can say it about the Muslims.

Comments are closed.