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← Fault Lines - Religion in the military

NumberCruncher's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by NumberCruncher

I'm a Brit ex-serviceman. I worked with the US military several times when I was in the Army. After I retired, I spent the best part of two years in Iraq as a civilian security advisor for USAID. Anybody from Baghdad who remembers the SAFE Report or the KSI IDR: that's me. If I've jogged anybody's memory with those: hi guys, it's good you're here to read this.

Anyhoo...

Armies are generally a reflection of the society from which they are drawn and the US military clearly contains more active believers than the generally agnostic Brit Army. However: I have yet to come across one who has said to me that s/he regards the War on Terror as a Christian crusade against Muslims. Many see their duties tying in with a personal Christian responsibility to fight oppression, but beyond that: no. Christianity long ago ceased to be spread by the sword and, besides, I've found that Americans have this inbuilt revulsion for expansionism. Speaking in very broad terms, Americans believe passionately in democracy, fairness and the right to do what you do providing you don't hurt anyone. These attitudes are reinforced by the American military ethos which is actively promoted.

For me, giving briefings on the nature of Islamic terrorism, I was surprised at how difficult it was to get British officials to understand that the guy who blew himself up - he really did believe that he would wake up to find himself in Paradise with virgins, boys, slave markets, rivers of etc etc and that is why he wrapped his genitals in cotton wool. US officials, more accustomed to the concept of religious belief, would simpy accept it.

It is the Muslims who support radical Islam who are waging a war of religion and the rest of the world which is on the receiving end of it and has been since the 9th Century. In the Muslim world, everything is seen through the prism of religion and specifically the prism of Islam in a way that we in the secular West and particularly in Britain find very difficult to understand. Remember that when watching anything produced by al-Jazeera.

Sun, 28 Jun 2009 08:30:00 UTC | #374477