Political correctness has run amok in the US military

There seems to be a clear double standard at work in the US military’s information operations; it is apparently perfectly okay, even requisite, to mention the enemy’s religion when we are apologizing for some slight or error, but it is almost always verboten when reporting on the enemy’s actions against us in the name of that religion.

There is something wrong when the US military has time to issue a press release on the destruction of Korans in Afghanistan (we don’t even know who destroyed the Korans, based on the release, but rest assured the US military will be accused of doing it), but in an 86-page report on last fall’s murder of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, it cannot mention the shooter’s name or note that the attack was carried out by a Muslim terrorist who was inspired by a radical Islamist preacher linked to al Qaeda and based in Yemen.

Lest I be accused of Islam-bashing here, I want to forcefully state that I believe that Muslims are our greatest ally in the war against radical Islamist terrorists. Through US military trainers, I have embedded with Iraqi Army, police, and Awakening forces in Fallujah, Haqlaniyah, Mosul, and Baghdad. I’ve watched Iraqi Muslims fight for their country and heard them describe their horror at what al Qaeda and Islamist terrorists represent. Iraq and Afghanistan will ultimately be won, or lost, by those Muslims who stand against the tide of radical Islamists. I’ve entrusted my life to these Muslim warriors and am proud to have walked with them.

But we must not shy away from identifying who the actual enemy is and what they represent. Political correctness only serves to blind us to the nature of the real threat. US servicemen and Americans deserve far better than the so-called blue ribbon panel that released “Protecting the Force: The Lessons from Fort Hood,” or ISAF press releases apologizing for the destruction of Korans.

Top ISAF leaders are “outraged” over the alleged destruction of Korans. Are any top military leaders outraged over the military’s failure to identify the Fort Hood shooter by name, religious affiliation, or motivation?

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Anonymous says:

    Bill as a Muslim American I couldn’t agree with you more. I fear that not identifying the enemy as such not only misleads Americans, but Muslims inside and outside of America as well. It’s a shame someone with your intelligence and eloquence is not on Fox/MSNBC/CNN more often.

  • Scott says:

    How do you win a war if you can’t name or identify the enemy?

  • James says:

    Let’s call the murders of those contractors in Falluja (did I spell that right?) a few years back what it was: A LYNCHING ! ! !
    A lynching at least as horrific (if not even more so) as the lynchings brought about by the KKK against the blacks we now acknowledge; a hate crime and horrific crime against humanity perpetrated by a group of criminals turned into international war criminals.
    A group of thugs that have (as GW Bush said) has hijacked one of the world’s greatest religions; a significant portion of these loser thugs weren’t even born into Islam or are even of Arabic lineage that “converted” over from Judea-Christian origins.
    Can the term “Al Queda” (which I understand means “the base” in Arabic) have a similar connotation as the term the “mafia.” As the term “mafia” is almost synonymous which the phrase “organized crime,” so too can the term “al queda” be synonymous with organized terror or terrorism.
    In my opinion, it is going to take an organized, measured, and unified international response to “put down” international terrorism.
    In the US Constitution, it mentions “the Law(s) of (the) Nations.” In the end, that is what it will take for US to finally subdue and put down Al Queda.
    I’m no big fan of GW Bush (not by any stretch of the imagination). But, some of the things Bush said were very accurate. For instance (when referring to Al Queda in general) “they are a threat against civilization.” Now, what group of individuals out there seem to have a habit of dwelling (or, more accurately, hiding) in caves?
    They look as though they got stuck on the evolutionary ladder with neanderthal.
    What group of individuals have a tendency to hide (at least) their (leaders) identities from proper authorities by dressing up as women (by wearing a burqa)? (Many of whom have a tendency to frequent strip bars which I do understand is against Islam.)
    I don’t know know what the Koran has to say about that, but I do know for a fact that the Bible (at least the Old Testament) forbids it.

  • Mr T says:

    Convert or die? How is that explained?

  • Xavier says:

    Apparently a bunch of Korans are more valuable than 13 lives.
    So the American soldier is worse than inanimate objects.

  • man_in_tx says:

    Mr Roggio: With all due respect, what you describe is far more sinister and deadly than mere “political correctness.” What you describe is a collapse of moral courage among this country’s military leadership — a collapse that overtly forbids any negative mention of Islam or its adherents (e.g., Muslim terrorists). What is worse, that collapse is married to a cringing fear of what enraged Muslims might do if the truth is actually spoken. As Ms Pamela Geller (Atlas Shrugs Blog) has pointed out, this fear is actually a manifestation of dhimmitude — willful submission to the demands of Shari’a law on the part of non-Muslims who lack the wherewithal to support the violent spread of Islam. The authors of this risible “blue ribbon study” should be laughed out of Washington.

  • I too agree that this is more than the case of political correctness running amok.
    What has happened is that the scholarly “experts” in American universities and think tanks have failed understand the nature of the enemy.
    These folks have not delivered.
    Meanwhile, Pentagon and politicians are left with the conventional wisdom of Islam as a religion like any other — and it shows!
    Good luck with that — the danger the United States faces in the short to medium term is in the form of WMD attacks, should the present policies/confusion continue.

  • Patrick says:

    I agree 100% with your statements. Thank you for saying what needs to be said.

  • Civy says:

    Very insightful Bill. It is the huge majority of Muslims who wish to live peaceful and productive lives that have the most skin in the game in destroying radical Islam. Everyone I have ever read or seen who is knowledgeable on the problem says exactly the same thing. I wonder when it will soak in with the West? What won An Bar, and ultimately Iraq, was helping the moderates take back their lives, not our superior military power.
    With respect to military leadership that will not stand up and say the truth, they aren’t getting much help from civilian leadership either, but then what makes great men great is they rise above such things.
    A special “Teflon” leadership cadre, led by someone like Colin Powell, to elicit advice from the Muslim community, create guidelines, and speak out publicly on specific issues when appropriate, seems a reasonable response. The way Hasan’s many obvious problems were swept under the rug is an outrage that just turns my stomach.
    The draft military had its problems, and so does the professional, career, military. Good, bad, indifferent, whatever. I’m not here to bash or judge, only point out that the nature of the beast needs to be studied and systems need to be created to push back against unproductive and dangerous tendencies that develop in professional militaries.
    Foot-dragging with regard to MRAPs in AnBar, ducking of responsibility for Abu Ghraib by senior officers (and civilians), reluctance to adopt Clear-Hold-Build as a winning strategy, previous choice of commander for US forces in Afghanistan, conditions at VA hospitals, bungled testing of 2nd Gen body armor, the Boeing tanker fiasco, COP Keating siting, and now Hasan. These are indications of systemic back-scratching, and evasion of responsibility, on the part of a professional military with long careers to protect.
    Can we finally just man up and say what needs to be said? The professional military is no more able to self-police than any other profession is.

  • KW64 says:

    Our commanding officer ordered everyone in the organization to read the Fort Hood report. It could have been so much more useful as well as much shorter and more informative.
    In the area of performance reiviews, the report punted about details but there are several problems with the current process. If one reviewer had kept details of nonperformance by Hasan and then it was reversed and a good rating given instead future reviewers do not know it and it would hardly be unique. Bad ratings require real convincing documentation while good ratings are not so demanding. The fact that one bad rating can ruin a career makes everyone in the evaluation tree reluctant to pull the trigger on someone. Officers rotating every three years can mean that they’ are often not completely convinced about someone’s unfitness because it takes time to learn about them and if the higher level reviewer is new to his position, the 1st reviewer’s experience may be questioned without overwhelming evidence that is inconvenient to develop.
    One bad review should not destroy a career because it could just be a personal thing but no ratings should be swept under the rug and be denied to future commanders. Documentation of good performance should be just as demanding as a bad rating because there is favoritism as well as bad blood. It seems that the Hasan case represents not just failure to report the bad, it also reflects false reporting of the good.
    Officers rating employees need to be good managers and look out for the best interest of the whole organization over the long term.
    not someone who just gets by during his watch. While the Fort Hood report hinted at that fact, it would have been more effective if the details were spelled out.

  • mAX says:

    Good for you, Bill. My sentiments exactly.

  • david sky says:

    The reason that this supposed “double-standard” you mention is in existed is simple. The USA is engaged in a psychological/information warfare campaign, attempting to portray its battle as one against so-called “terrorists”.
    It is doing everything it can to undermine claims that this is a war against Islam and Muslims. I am surprised you are not aware of this.
    Why do I put “terrorist” in quotes? Simple: Americans would be “terrorists” as well, if another country launched a 5-6 decade campaign of social and geo-political engineering against our nation.
    In fact, when we evicted the British from our lands, we were “terrorists” to the them. But Americans do not see themselves as terrorists; instead they see themselves as brave heroes.
    The more one studies the term terrorism, the more one realizes that it is completely misused to cast political judgement before the listener can effectively come up with a conclusion himself.
    The American public has a misguided and poorly informed view about why the USA is subject to terrorist attacks. This naivete is what allows the US government to use the full force of our military against people who may never have attacked us, if we had given them sovereignty.
    However, we have, for decades, eschewed giving those people sovereignty and we have armed their enemies; as such, it is no surprise that we were attacked.
    The first step to a more enlightened analysis of who these men are, comes not from calling them terrorists, but understanding that they come from a population the United States has suppressed, and assisted Israel to suppress, for several decades. The debate would be more accurate if people focused on the USA’s own culpability in the rise of politically motivated attacks against itself.

  • t davis says:

    Those contractors in fallujah were actually,tortured,dismembered and then strung up,in the name of what religion.The scumbag master mind was captured by one of our elite seal teams.God Bless these brothers.Three of these Petty Officers Matthew McCabe,Julio Huertas and Johnathan Keefe were being prosecuted because this guy had a boo boo on his lip and a bruised chest.He claimed to have been slapped around by the seals while in their custody.General Cleveland and others could stop this very disturbing prosecution of our fine warriors at anytime.But the propaganda war must be very slow because they claim statments by the seals were diffrent then the detainee.So Gen Cleveland’s worry is the possibility of a “cover up”rather than the detainees “relatively minor”injuries.I won’t mention the detainee’s name because I don’t want a visit from homeland security,or the secret service,or Gen Cleveland.The first rule in the Al Q handbook of terrorism is to claim the American soldiers did it.Then let the propaganda war begin.

  • Mr. Civy
    Your post is emblematic of how flawed assumptions lead to comprehensively incorrect analysis.
    All available evidence points to the fact that huge majority of Muslims have been influenced to view us suspiciously and with hatred, and to sponsor those who want to attack us. Because this is the message that is being preached in mosques all over the world, and in turn, influences the local media too.
    Your initial statement is just wishful thinking. Everything else you have said in your post relies on a fundamentally flawed assumption, and they do not stack up.
    People like you (no disrespect intended) form the mainstream in our military and political establishments. That is the reason why we continue to fail this war. If we don’t shape up soon, nuclear strikes by Islamic groups is coming soon, to a city near you and me.
    I have been able to think through these issues deeply, because I am not part of the establishment – academic or otherwise. The book is out there. With the analysis background of a doctorate in nuclear physics from a top American program, and having spent almost 15 years doing scholarship on Islam, I know what I am talking about.

  • My2cents says:

    I followed the link to the report, it has got some damning items if you work your way past the verbiage. One of my favorites is in the discussion section of Finding 2.15 on page 22 (26 of 86).
    “DoD policy on prohibited activities is limited and only addresses active participation in groups that may pose a threat to good order and discipline. However, this does not include contacting, establishing, and/or maintaining relationships with persons or entities that interfere with or prevent the orderly accomplishment of the mission or present a clear danger to loyalty, discipline, mission, or moral of the troops.”

  • KnightHawk says:

    Great post Bill, the more that speak up about this the better.

  • UAVmfg says:

    Political correctness is what is wrong in the military but also a disease that is infecting our entire country!! Nobody wants to say how they really feel about touchy subjects for the fear of offending someone. This country is becoming a bunch of panzies and that is going to be our demise!

  • Anonymous says:

    Muthuswamy, interesting how your “deep thinking” on the matter didn’t lead to any evidentiary support for your ridiculous claim that the “majority of Muslims” are trained to “hate us” and “sponsor those who attack us.” According to your link, I guess your solution is to distribute an alleged “sanitized” Koran that would win over 1 billion Muslims with peaceful verses replacing the ones that are interpreted as violent. Fortunately, our military leadership is smart enough to never entertain such a stupid idea which would surely lead to more problems and more enemies not allies. Success in Iraq and elimination of radical islamist military leaders has been acheived with the support of Muslims and Muslim governments. By the way, your “education” in no way qualifies you as an expect on how to conduct a war. If raw intelligence or academic degrees were the standard, we’d be looking to leftists like noam chomsky to define our military policy….not gonna happen!!

  • TimSln says:

    Well stated Bill. Couldn’t agree more.

  • Civy says:

    The only place “the huge majority” of Muslims hate the US is in your mind. Polls throughout the middle east, even in the ‘axis of evil” Iran, show exactly the opposite to be true.
    Even if it were true, and it’s not, it doesn’t follow that they would not work with us to rid themselves of the radicals. I hated my boss for years, but I still worked for him. I am suspicious of many things, some of them I still choose to support because they still represent the best choice.
    Perhaps you should re-read Bill’s post. He wouldn’t be here if your claim were correct, he’d be dead. We also wouldn’t have won AnBar and Iraq.
    I’ve worked with enough middle easterners to know that what they say isn’t very important. They say what they have to in order to get by. What they do is important, and what they do is root out and kill the radicals with much more vigor and a lot less restraint than we do. You may recall, restraining the Sunnis in An Bar from going after AQ all gung-ho and guns blazing was a problem for us when they first decided to throw in with us. Once AnBar was under control they organized their first expeditionary brigade to hunt down AQ in Diyala – literally going out of their way to kill AQ, not us.
    Your views are wildly out of touch with the facts. I try to actually have facts at my disposal before thinking deep. It helps in reaching valid conclusions.

  • t davis says:

    So what is politically correct?If it’s a war on terrorism who actually are the terrorists.Muslim extremists,Islam extremists,drug lords,war lords or are they just unemployable foreign fighters who cannot hold a job and are recruited by the taliban or aq with promises of all the drugs,food and money you can ingest.Our soldiers are trained everybody is innocient until they shoot at you or try to blow you up.Our soldiers are trained to win the hearts and minds of the innocient and to serve and protect them from those who want to bring them harm.The murders at Ft Hood were committed by an American who believed in the preachings of a cleric who was an extremist.The officer clearly participated in a group that undermined the loyalty to his troops and to the over all mission.He comitted the worst act of treason imaginable.His sentence should be swift and final.

  • Paddy says:

    Bill, good comments on PC in the military, but you are totally wrong about so called “extremists”, these are not extremists, these are true Muslims following the teachings and tenets of ISlam. at the Center for Strategic Analysis wwwc4sanalysis.org we have been studying and training numerous people (Airforce, Police, Homeland Security officials, civilians) in understanding who the enemy really is, I think you have a great site, but you have taken the easy way out by not speaking the truth about Islam. Mr. Civvy you are hopelessly deluded and fooled by your “taqqiya”, Mr.Muthswamy is actually correct as far as the hatred from most muslims to all non-believers – The Koran (5, 51) orders
    “o ye who believe ! Take not the Jews and Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them..Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk “. I have lived and grew up among muslims and can vouch for this.
    B safe, Paddy

  • Mike Hollins says:

    I agree with your comments completely. Political correctness is a doctrine cooked up decades ago by communists from the “Frankfurt School” for the express purpose of undermining American culture and tradition. It has succeeded better than they could have dreamed.
    Thirty years of swallowing this insidious poison has even sapped our will to confront the Islamic jihadists who want us all dead. If they had calculated how best to make us beat ourselves, they couldn’t have done better.

  • Mr. Civy
    I respect your honored point-of-view.
    Let me take a moment to backup my earlier post with data.
    Here’s an article published in 2003:
    “True dislike, if not hatred, of America is concentrated in the Muslim nations of the Middle East and in Central Asia, today’s areas of greatest conflict.”

  • Civy says:

    There are large Muslim communities in Detroit, Atlanta and Modesto. If what you are claiming were true the newspapers of those cities would be filled with reports of Muslims murdering their Christian neighbors indiscriminately. Since this is in fact NOT happening, I submit that your ‘analysis’ is paranoid.
    I don’t care what the Koran says. I care a lot what instruction Muslims take from it, as that is what affects their behavior. Muslims living in the US, in particular, ignore the mandate to live in a theocracy, and choose instead to live in a democracy – one which guarantees their right to practice their religion free from government interference. (It doesn’t give them a right to expect radicalized behavior be white-washed or swept under the manila envelope by the DOD)
    That Constitutional right, the same right that brought the first Europeans to this country, is much more important to most Americans, including Muslim Americans, than protecting themselves against the odd Muslim radical who threatens us in a way no different than Christian crazies that bomb abortion clinics, murder judges, or threaten the Olympic Games. I think you’d have to put McVeigh in that group, so it’s a real threat.
    Finally, since more people died in the Mexican drug wars last year than died in the last 3 years in Afghanistan, I think your concerns are somewhat misplaced. You, or any random American, is much more likely to be harmed by the Mexican drug war than anything going on in the Muslim world. (There was over a kidnapping and/or murder a day in Phoenix alone last year) Not so for those Muslims who have to live in that world. Thus, they are the ones with the skin in the game, not us.

  • Bill Ardolino says:

    “Iraq is a different matter altogether. Decades of Saddam’s “secular”

  • Mr T says:

    Count me in the group that believes we are at war with “Islam”. Some people may want to claim we are only at war with a faction of Islam or just the extremists. An example would be Sunni Muslim attacks on Shia Muslims even in mosques. However, I think that the Muslim attacks on other Muslims are more about power and greed than Islam itself. It’s one thing to say Islamic Worldwide Caliphate. It is another to decide which clerics or which group of Muslims control the money in local areas. In each village, or town, or city, there are people who get the money/resources and decide how to distribute it. Democracies vote who does that. Muslims in many countries fight it out. Those helping to root out Al Qaeda are either looking for power in their local areas, or tired of the death and destruction in their areas. I still maintain that they are pursuing a goal of worldwide Islamic rule (and resultant demise of the west). They just need to control their own area first.
    Another point. Muslim countries do not want to allow other religions in those countries. They do many things to prevent it and the imposition of Sharia law makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have a different faith. In other words, Muslim countries impose Islam on its citizens. To deny Islam (or merely criticise it)means death in some places.
    I have no doubt that many “Muslims” in Muslim countries are only Muslim in order to survive. The threat is real and most don’t want to chance it. This faith by sword approach is very effective. The resulting groupthink allows extremists to control the population by force. Now they are pushing out to other countries to spread Islam and its forced faith. Many Muslims participate in jihad without going to the battlefield. They provide financial, logistic, and moral support to the mujahadeen. They are doing their duty for Islam.
    In America, you are more likely to choose Christianity because your parents did or because its easier to get along in society, but the threat of death or jizya tax is not there.
    There are hundreds of Muslim clerics from all factions of Islam that could issue fatwas right now to stop the violence. Why are they not doing it? They are supporting the jihad and want the west to be vanquished. Many for moral reasons, many for financial reasons. All in support of Islam.
    When Muslims allow freedom of religion all over the world, then maybe I will be persuaded differently. What would happen in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Yemen? Would 20% of the population stop being Muslim and pursue other faiths or none at all? 50%? Until then, I will continue to be politically incorrect and call it as I see it.

  • “But Muslims, most of whom can only work with us to the extent we are not perceived as being “at war Islam,” are also the solution, and those who fail to recognize this advance inherently unrealistic solutions.”
    By and large, people realize that Islam has a violent outlook toward unbelievers. However, many think that if this point is brought up then we would be perceived as waging “war on Islam.”
    But to ignore this is to basically wage an ineffective and losing war.
    I think the way out is not only point out Islam’s shortcoming under the cover of science, but importantly, point out that Muslims too are victims of certain attributes of Islam.
    This is the kind of strategy I have outlined in my book.

  • Render says:

    I let this one fester for bit too long…
    David Sky – “The reason that this supposed “double-standard” you mention is in existed is simple. The USA is engaged in a psychological/information warfare campaign, attempting to portray its battle as one against so-called “terrorists”.”

  • Hanging on every word says:

    Thanks, Render. I was waiting for that. Nice dissection of an apologist who assumes no one here has any sense of history or follows events. Actually glad now that Mr “We Had It Coming” Dawood Sky came down from Above to school us “sheeple”.


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