An investigation has started into a course taught at a U.S. college for military staff officers that gave tacit approval to unconditional attacks on Mecca and Islamic civilians.
The course offered at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, cited the atomic bomb raids on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the World War II fire-bombings of Tokyo and Dresden, Germany, as justification for such actions against Muslims.
The contents of the course, "Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism," explicitly went against the stance laid out by U.S. President Barack Obama to conduct dialogue with Islam.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has ordered that the course be suspended and called for an investigation.
The course has been offered at the Joint Forces Staff College since 2004. Active military officers gave lectures in the course, which has been taken by about 600 staff officers with ranks of colonel, lieutenant colonel and captain or their equivalent, according to U.S. Defense Department officials.
Since the summer of 2010, one part of the course was taught by an Army lieutenant colonel and covered an operational model for combating Islamic jihad. In documents used in that session, the allegation was made that at least 10 percent of the 1.4 billion Muslims in the world were radicals, and that even moderate Muslims supported the use of violence.
The claim was made that total war had to be conducted, calling any strategy to seek common ground between the United States and Muslims as "irrational."
A document also said there was no need to follow the Geneva Convention, which calls for excluding civilians as targets of fighting, when involved in combat with Muslims because Islamic terrorists often targeted civilians.
"This would leave open the option once again of taking war to a civilian population, whenever necessary (the historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki being applicable to the [destruction] of Mecca and Medina)," the document said.
The document also states, "Some actions offered for consideration here will be seen as not 'politically correct.'"
According to the website of the organization that obtained the document, other instructors in the course pointed out that Muslims hated Christians and Jews and felt it was their mission to scorn them.
Officials at the U.S. Defense Department learned of the contents of the course this spring when a participant blew the whistle. A report was submitted to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Dempsey issued the order in late April to suspend the course and conduct an investigation.
In a related development, reports surfaced last year that the anti-Muslim Christian Crusades of the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries were cited during a training session for Air Force officers who would be placed in charge of launching nuclear weapons.
An official in charge of press relations at the Joint Forces Staff College acknowledged to The Asahi Shimbun that the contents of the course in question were inappropriate. The official gave no clear response on whether any disciplinary measures would be handed down to the instructors, citing the fact the investigation was ongoing.
This is not the first time actions by the U.S. military have fueled speculation about an anti-Islam bias. The burning of the Koran by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan touched off enormous criticism around the world.
The course taught at the Joint Forces Staff College goes against the stance taken by Obama of viewing only al-Qaida as the enemy of the United States rather than all Muslims. Obama has sought dialogue and reconciliation with moderate Muslims.
However, part of the course in question not only said 10 percent of all Muslims were radicals, but also indicated that even moderate Muslims were sympathetic of the violence used by their more radical brethren.
(This article was written by Hirotsugu Mochizuki and Yoshiaki Kasuga.)
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