(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Press reports last week revealed the shocking practice of teaching anti-Islam material to US army personnel at the Pentagon. In one such report, offered by the Independent on May 12, the Pentagon has acknowledged "that an instructor at its Joint Forces College in Virginia for military officers was until recently teaching a course advocating 'total war' with Islam that could require obliterating the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia without concern for civilian deaths".
The Independent report says that the details of the course were obtained by a blog on Wired.com, drawn from a presentation given by the teacher, Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley, in July last year. In his course, called Perspectives on Islamic Radicalism, Dooley taught that destroying Islamic holy sites without concern for civilian deaths would follow the precedents of the nuclear strikes in World War II on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the bombing of Dresden and Tokyo.
The war plan, which Dooley presented his trainees with, was based on the need for "a direct ideological and philosophical confrontation with Islam". He said: "They hate everything you stand for and will never coexist with you, unless you submit."
He added that as America would wage that war, it would be free to ignore provisions of the Geneva Conventions that set the rules for armed conflict, as "no longer relevant", said the report.
In justifying wholesale Muslim civilian deaths in his war plan to Pentagon soldiers, Dooley said: "Islam has already declared war on the US." As a result, he said that the US should retaliate by waging total war rather than engage in the current "illogical" American stance of seeking common ground with Islamic leaders around the world.
He also taught: "We have now come to understand that there is no such thing as 'moderate' Islam. It is therefore time for the United States to make our true intentions clear. This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated. Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction."
The elective course had been offered five times a year for groups of 20 officers at a time. It may therefore have been taught to as many as 800 mid-level and senior US military officers before it was closed down by the Pentagon.
Dooley was described as a highly decorated officer who had served in Iraq, Bosnia and Kuwait, among others.
In the meantime, the FBI revealed that it, too, has recently been forced to revise some of its instruction material, to excise references that could have been insulting to Islam. So it was not just the Pentagon.
Naturally, when such embarrassing news came into the open, the act was deplored by US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey who said, in a press conference at the Pentagon, that "it was just totally objectionable, against our values, and academically irresponsible".
Such words may sound soothing and may help calm down. But they still leave many questions unanswered. But before I start listing some of the questions, I should say that such teaching is much more than objectionable and irresponsible. This is incitement of the first order. It is the perfect prescription for realising the dream of those who based their weird interpretation of history on the fiction of a clash of civilisation, in the hope that Islam will be the "modern world's" target and enemy. This may sadly offer evidence that the war on terror has indeed been the war on Islam and the Muslim world, and that any claim to the contrary needs meticulous revision.
Now to some questions, which although may never have answers, still have to be highlighted.
How could a teaching course of this dangerous nature run for almost eight years - since 2004 - without being known to the high officials who now rushed to denounce it and end it. How did it escape their notice for such a long time?
Would it be easy to accept that the 800 educated officers who had over the years taken the course did not realise it was contradictory to the US values, as well as the simplest principles of civilised behaviour?
Is it possible that none of them questioned the legality, let alone the morality, of destroying holy places and killing innocent civilians? And what about the claim that soldiers are routinely educated on the laws of war and the international conventions that govern the conduct of soldiers in times of war? Did no one notice the stark contradiction?
Could none of the students ever mention that something unusual was happening during that course? Did neither of those officers have noted that what was taught negated the repeated claims of US President Barack Obama that neither Islam nor Muslims were the enemy, and that the only enemy is the terrorist, or did they possibly believe that all Muslims were terrorists?
Did the abrasive language used by Dooley not raise doubts in the minds of the officer trainees that that was not the way to spread democracy, to build institutions, to introduce civilised values and to win hearts and minds?
How alarming if there were no doubts in their minds, and if the officers accepted the instruction as normal.
These certainly are not all the questions that come to one's mind with respect to this stunning disclosure, but may suffice for the purpose of a short article.
Let me now turn to the Arab and Muslim world and wonder how the case in question should be perceived.
There could be much shock, but little surprise. Shock because this is probably the first time this part of the world realises that such hate instruction has been taking place at the highest military establishment in the US. No amount of explaining or rejection is sufficient to eliminate doubt or accept innocence. And little surprise because the last 10 years have witnessed other appalling soldier practices against Muslims and Muslim holy symbols. In 2005, the eruption of the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal shocked the whole world. So did other cases of desecration of the Muslim holy book, the Koran (flushing it in a toilet) in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in 2005 and the burning of copies of the Koran by US soldiers in Bagram Base, in Afghanistan, this year.
It will be extremely difficult now to defend the claim that such acts were individual incidents committed by a few bad apples.
It is sad that US-Muslim relationship has been unnecessarily subjected to so much harm and abuse when all the right components for an ideal relationship are firmly in place. It will take decades to repair the accumulating damage, assuming no more shocks and harm are on their way.