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
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 courseon 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 was meant “to generate dynamic discussion and thought” and did not constitute government policy. According to The Washington Times, Dooley’s attorneys at the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) have maintained that “the discussion about all-out war … was conducted by a guest speaker. It involved theoretical ‘out of the box’ thinking on what happens if Islamic extremists commandeer Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and begin destroying U.S. cities: How does the U.S. respond?”
External lecturers in the class were a major target of Wired, which highlighted their politically incorrect statements such as that the Crusades had been initiated after centuries of Muslim incursions and that Islamists see the fall of Arab regimes as stepping stones to global dominance. Ironically, one maligned guest speaker, Stephen Coughlin, had been fired from his post with the Joint Staff years earlier because of his own controversial work on Islamic warfare.
Though one could debate whether aspects of Dooley’s approach were unbalanced, the military’s reaction surely was. Hours after the Wired exposé appeared, Dempsey condemned the class at a news conference. “It was just totally objectionable, against our values, and it wasn’t academically sound,” he said, adding that Dooley, referred to as “the individual,” was no longer teaching. Soon Dooley was ordered removed “for cause,” and his superiors produced a negative officer evaluation report, derailing his career. On November 26, Ackerman relayed that Dooley had been transferred to a “bureaucratic backwater.”
TMLC lawyers argue that the military chose to “throw him under the bus in public” without ever privately instructing Dooley to tweak the course’s content. The center further asserts that Dempsey’s words prejudiced the investigation, that the syllabus had been approved, and that university policies guarantee the right to academic expression “free of limitations, restraints, or coercion by the university or external environment.” Two congressmen also objected to what they saw as excessive punishment; in response, the Pentagon issued a report defending Dooley’s dismissal on the basis that the class “did not meet appropriate academic standards” and was “overtly negative with respect to Islam.” According to a TMLC press release, the military’s primary goal was to appease Islamists and make an example out of Dooley, so others “will refrain from telling the truth about Islam or confronting the difficult strategic challenges facing our nation for fear of jeopardizing their professional careers.”
Read more at Middle East Forum
- Denying Islam’s Role in Terror: Explaining the Denial (counterjihadreport.com)
- Problems in the FBI Denying Islam’s Role in Terror (counterjihadreport.com)