June 1, 2012  

Off course on Islam

TO GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY for pulling the plug on a Joint Forces Staff College course that taught “Islam had already declared war on the West” and, as reported by Wired’s Danger Room, suggested “Hiroshima-like tactics” in response. We’ll refrain from throwing darts while DoD’s review of the circumstances wraps up, but one has to wonder how the elective class, “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism,” survived for eight years at the Norfolk, Va., school, and how many captains, commanders, lieutenant colonels and colonels from across all four armed services took its unhinged notions with them when they left.

To state the evidently-not-obvious-enough, Islam’s 1.6 billion adherents are in no way monolithic, and attempts to paint them as such undermine the understanding that is so crucial to good strategic and tactical thinking. What military leaders need is more courses that explain how the world actually works. Developing knowledge and insight, as opposed to ignorance and fear, is a far better way to prepare those leaders to identify the real threats amid a world full of neutrals and friendlies.