Koranic Quagmire

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rather than killing as many of our enemies as possible and making sure that the rest know that so much as laying a finger on a single hair of an American citizen is completely unacceptable, our military is beginning to opt for a "faith-based" alternative to waging an actual war:

BAGHDAD, IRAQ — The men crouched on the floor of the carpeted tent listen attentively to a cleric seated on a wooden bench in front of them, some leaning forward so as not to miss a single word.

Be patient, he tells them. Follow the prophet's example. Forgive those who wronged you.

Islamic teachings have been passed along at such gatherings for centuries. But this is no religious madrassa.

The tent is surrounded by fences topped with barbed wire, soldiers stand at its entrance and the students wear the yellow overalls of detainees at U.S. facilities.

The "enlightenment" class that took place one recent morning at Camp Cropper, near Baghdad's international airport, is part of a radical overhaul of a detention system still tainted by the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in 2004.

"The travesty, the failure in leadership that led to Abu Ghraib can never be allowed again," Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone said in a recent interview.

Since May, when he took charge of U.S. detention operations in Iraq, Stone has opened internment facilities to greater outside scrutiny and given inmates a chance to discuss their cases with military authorities.

He also has introduced a battery of programs aimed at turning suspected insurgents into model citizens.

Teachers, clerics, psychologists and other specialists use the Quran to moderate inmates' views. They provide counseling and basic education to rehabilitate the mostly poor, uneducated detainees, some of whom have been exposed to extremist indoctrination.

Stone said he aimed to overturn the notion of detention as "warehousing" for insurgents.

"It is the battlefield of the mind," the general said.

The task has taken on new urgency as the number of detainees held by U.S. forces in Iraq has soared. About 25,000 people are held at Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca, near Basra, the two primary U.S. facilities in Iraq.

Many adults wait years before being tried or cleared, leaving them prey to recruitment by extremists housed with them.

In a bid to restore the credibility of the system, Stone has allowed representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Iraqi government, military and other agencies to visit Cropper and Bucca.

Similar efforts have been made in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Singapore. But, until recently, there had been no comparable effort in Iraq.

Some analysts say there isn't enough data to gauge the effectiveness of such programs.

Stone said that none of the more than 1,000 detainees who had been through his programs had been arrested again.

But he acknowledged that it was too soon to tell whether that would remain the case. [bold added]
General Stone, when he says that this is "the battlefield of the mind", clearly understands his words about as well as a parrot comprehends the human voices it imitates. Otherwise, he would realize that he is wasting his time (and our money) by making use of the exact same faith-based method and the exact same content that turned our enemies into brutes in the first place -- to attempt to civilize them or render them less hostile in the very least!

This activity by our government is so wrong on so many levels I barely know where to begin. About the best I can come up with at this instant is to say something like, "Damn straight this is a battle of the mind -- and you're on the wrong side!" Our nation was founded on the notion that man has the inalienable right to live his own life as he sees fit. To protect that right from foreign and domestic enemies was the explicit purpose of its government, no more and no less.

I don't give a damn whether some fool in the Middle East kowtows towards a rock and mumbles prayers five times a day, so long as he can't harm me. Our government's job isn't to provide him (or anyone else) religious instruction. It's to make him unable to harm me or at least afraid to try.

Over two centuries of American success in self-defense have shown that bullets are cheaper and more effective for this purpose. But apparently, our leaders have chosen to act by blind faith instead, and hope that by some miracle, Koranic teachings will suddenly lead to a different result this time.

Our government appeared to be far closer to acting properly with respect to the Koran when it was rumored to be flushing it down the toilet.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

"Our government appeared to be far closer to acting properly with respect to the Koran when it was rumored to be flushing it down the toilet."

Awesome line. I think what this episode illustrates is the failure of the "reformist" model for our war strategy. This (largely) Neo-Conservative strategy rests on the premise that in order for the US to be safe the Islamic world must be reformed. Therefore it is up to US troops to turn a seething cauldron of hatred, mysticism, and tribalism like Iraq into an enlightened Western nation. This is pure socio-political fantasy. Yet it is our foreign policy.

I think a better strategy would be to destroy all military and economic threats posed by the Islamic world and then isolate that Islamic world in its historic lands as much as possible. Rebuilding, reforming, "democratizing" are all, in today's context with 5 years of data to draw from, altruistic in my opinion. We are waging a war that focuses on helping Muslims instead of waging a war that focuses on protecting us.

John KIm

Gus Van Horn said...

"We are waging a war that focuses on helping Muslims instead of waging a war that focuses on protecting us."

That, too is a good line.