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10 May 2012

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Basilisk

Sorry for the anonymous post. I am the culprit, Basilisk

Walrus

Col.Lang, I'm glad you raised this subject. My thoughts on this behaviour are unprintable.

Matthew

Col: I take a more cynical view. We have always had charlatans and snake oil salesmen. But the focus here should be on the gate-keepers. Who approved these courses?Did any senior officers sit through these hate-fests? If so, some of them should lose their jobs.

turcopolier

Matthew

This is Basilisk's piece, not mine. pl

turcopolier

walrus

Once again, it is Basilisk's piece. Hre forgot to sign it but I concur. pl

brenner

I just looked at al-Arabiya (English)where this is a headline story. By contrast, it has yet to be picked up by the NYT or Huffington. The disconnect between the Washington/media echo chamber and the rest of the world is now near total

The beaver

After the FBI , now the military - makes us wonder which other agency(ies) is/are doing the same !

Basilisk

Beaver,
There is a dearth of knowledge. Too many inquiring minds and too few knowledgeable commentators. PL could take this on full time, but no one is smart enough to ask him

Medicine Man

Although I am happy to have Col. Lang as a resource, I think there is something seriously wrong that has the time to chat with us on a blog. By all rights his time should be 100% monopolized by the USG. I understand that government policy is that no Arabic speaker with family ties to activists in the middle east will be considered for government service. How many people does this rule out? Most Arab language experts I would guess. The Colonel is a limited resource left critically untapped for some reason.

Basilisk

My comment about PL was tongue in cheek. He is of a rather higher order than those who make their livelihood teaching pick-up courses for various agencies.

I'm afraid there is another contributing factor beyond the lack of highly qualified instructors. Again and again, when I suggested to young analysts that they learn Arabic, the response, was generally, "why? I'll be in another job in two years."

There is an inescapable belief in the IC that standardization is better than specialization. It was described to me once as "the FBI approach."

"Your job is to catch bank robbers; it makes no difference whether they are in Keokuk or Coeur d'Alene."

That doesn't work well in the intelligence business as we have proven again and again.

By the way, assigning that failing to the Bureau was unfair, they actually have some genuine specialists who are the best at what they do.

turcopolier

Basilisk

I am 72 this month. I have a bad back. I wore out my body. Let someone else wear out their bodies and minds. I will continue to write my books. pl

The beaver

And one of the contributors is this person:
http://shireenkhanburki.blogspot.ca/

She is the one who started the false scuttlebutt about Barack Obama being a Muslim apostate back in 2008 - an argument which was vigourously disputed by those who did study the religion:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2008/0519/p09s02-coop.html
http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/281/who%27s_smearing_obama

The Twisted Genius

Greetings from the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. I finally snagged a decent open WiFi connection.

I find it shocking that this mindset is so deeply rooted in the military education system. Judging by the comments to the Wired article, it's just as deeply rooted in American society. I grew up in a family steeped in a deep hatred of the bolsheviks, communists and/or Russians. But even family veterans of the Lithuanian Freedom Army admitted that most Russians were really decent people.

Basilisk - Amen to your comment about the preference for standardization rather than specialization in the IC. I think the preference for the superficial generalist really took hold in the last ten years along with the rise of a whole class of careerists seeking only the next higher grade. It brings to mind PL's article on "Bureaucrats Versus Artists..."

rjj

Good LORD. I decided against posting a flippantly promiscuous generalization about Dooley, Coughlin and she probably being crypto-Irish with an identity transplant.

confusedponderer

TTG,
re: your comment about your family's veterans of the Lithuanian Freedom Army admitting that most Russians were really decent people ...

An aunt of mine was deported at the end of WW-II by Russians to do forced labour in a Siberian coal mine. The poor thing lost half her lung in a cave in. One day I asked her whether she hated Russians and she told me that she didn't. She said that the Russians there didn't have it any better or worse than she did anyway, even shared the little they had. She got almost dreamy when speaking of the beauty of summer in Siberia. The flowers, the flowers ...

Her husband, sadly kin, was an unrepentant Nazi for whom Jews and Russians were subhuman. To him the advance through Russia was 'the best time of his life'. They were quite a mismatch, at a time when divorce was not an option.

Another aunt of mine never got over the fact that Polish soldiers serving in the Red Army, when they overran them fleeing East Prussia mock executed my then 13 year old father. She turns rabid at any mentioning of Poles, or Russians.

My father never spoke about it. Not once. All he said was that we don't know how good we have it. He was separated from family on the trek, and had to find his way west on his own. When he tried to cross the line separating the East from the West, he was caught by Russian soldiers twice. They let him through the third time. He later learned Russian. His attitude towards Russians was ambivalent since I recall he strongly objected to me wanting to buy a pair of Russian binoculars when I was a boy.

Basilisk

Thanks to Stuart Ackerman of Wired.com and reporters who decided to follow up, this story is mainstream now . See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-18032968

The last paragraph, "What does seem rather surprising, he adds, is that all those commanders, captains and colonels must have sat through the course and not felt the need to tell someone that something rather weird was going on." is especially instructive.

The follow up story on Wired.com is at http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/05/dempsey-islam-irresponsible/

Thanks, General Dempsey for being one of those "rational thinkers."

Alba Etie

I wonder how much of this apocalyptic vision of wanting to "nuke the "Islamist is rooted in the Christian Dominionist and other fundamentalist belief system ?

Abu Sinan

Colonel,

From what I heard on al Jazeera and on NPR, the class had been taught for an entire year before someone objected to the materials being taught. Why did it take an entire year for someone to speak up? Is it because this opinion is now common in the military so it didnt seem odd that it was being taught? Or is there a reluctanace to report instructors for objectionable materials?

The fact that this was taught for an entire year without comment is worrying.

confusedponderer

TTG,
what I wanted to get at is, as trivial as it is, that people are shaped by what they experience, but that they can react the same or similar experiences in fundamentally different ways according to their education or inclination.

I think it gives credit to your family that they would be able to say that most Russians were really decent people, despite of their experiences in the Lithuanian Freedom Army.

It is so much simpler to generally dismiss all Russians as, say, filthy commies, rather than to see and accept nuance.

To get back to the topic at hand, the quacks peddling their half-assed ideas about Islam roundly fail in that regard.

jr786

What new madness is this!? Haven't we been throught his already, discussing on these pages the infamous powerpoint presentation??

How can a country be at war with a religion?

Disgusting.

rjj

wrt objecting to course content: I assume The Army is not The Agora. Was dropping out of the course an option? If so, look at the dropout rate.

Basilisk

Sorry, folks, it's Spencer Ackerman of Wired.com

Basilisk

jr786, regrettably, it is not a single PowerPoint presentation, but an entire little cottage industry of them. The ones that caused this particular outburst appear to be the Dooley presentations to the Armed Forces Staff College.

Just a scenario, you understand, but one that has been stamped out by official JCS reaction.

Babak Makkinejad

It is foolish, no doubt.

The danger to the United States lies in the very definite possibility that she could become identified as an Enemy of Islam by an overwhelming majority of Muslims.

[I have been told that very many people in Punjab already think so.]

Once that transition has taken place, it cannot be reversed - in my opinion.

It will make US intercourse with Muslim states and their leaders difficult to impossible.

800 years agao, the Catholic Church concluded that there was no margin in War against Islam.

Evidently, the Protestant Christians in US are ignorant of the reasoning behind the decision of the Bishop of Rome in this regard.

Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA

It may be time for a high level, outside review of all the military's schools to root this out. I'm thinking of an otherwise fine Air Force officer with whom I worked two years ago. A Naval Post Graduate School graduate, he spoke of "The Caliphate" as we old guys spoke of "Monolithic Communism" back in the day.

Too many active duty people that I still know as well as recent retirees rely solely on Fox News which in turn, IMO, heavily influences their world view including the view that Islam is somehow inherently evil.

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