No time for holy war.Byline: The Register-Guard
Last June, Army Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin stood in full uniform in front of a church congregation in Sandy, Ore., and clicked through slides of Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden Osama bin Laden: see bin Laden, Osama. and Kim Jong Il Kim Jong Il
or Kim Chong Il
(born Feb. 16, 1941, Siberia, Russia, U.S.S.R.) Son of Kim Il-sung. He was designated his father's successor in 1980 and became North Korea's de facto leader on his father's death in 1994. .
``Why do they hate us?'' Boykin asked. ``The answer to that is because we're a Christian nation... . We are hated because we are a nation of believers.'' He added that the ``spiritual enemy'' of the United States ``will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus.''
There's certainly nothing new about depicting military or political struggles in religious terms. American presidents and generals since George Washington have rarely failed to invoke the name of the almighty during times of war or crisis.
Boykin, however, has taken this familiar practice to a new and dangerous level, one that has damaged the United States' already precarious position with the Islamic world.
As an American service-man, Boykin is fully entitled to any religious beliefs he chooses to embrace. It's no one's business if the general heeds a calling to become a fundamentalist Christian or, for that matter, a fundamentalist Moslem.
But when a military officer has been named the new deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and when he stands up in public, wearing his Army uniform, and describes the struggle against terrorism as a conflict between Judeo-Christian values and Satan, that's a problem. A big one.
Not surprisingly, reports of such remarks by a senior Pentagon policymaker have prompted outrage from Muslim organizations. The Council on American-Islamic Relations The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is an advocacy group for Muslims in North America; its professed goals are to "enhanc[e] understanding of Islam, promot[e] justice and empower American Muslims. has urged the Bush administration to remove Boykin from his post. The multi-denominational Interfaith Alliance called for a formal reprimand REPRIMAND, punishment. The censure which in some cases a public office pronounces against an offender.
2. This species of punishment is used by legislative bodies to punish their members or others who have been guilty of some impropriety of conduct towards them. .
The reaction of a Muslim world that is already cynical about America's motives is easily imagined. While President Bush's administration has emphasized that the U.S. is targeting terrorists and not Islam, Boykin has reinforced the impression that America is waging a holy crusade against the Muslim faith.
Ironically, Boykin's job is to guide the hunt for bin Laden, Saddam, Mullah Omar and others the administration has put on its "most-wanted" terrorist list. Not only has the Pentagon failed so far to fulfill that mission, its top man on the job has given the very people he is stalking exactly what they need to attract new followers and funding - and to escalate their deadly struggle against the United States.
Pentagon officials might have controlled the damage if they had publicly condemned Boykin's remarks. Instead, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking overall military officer of the United States military, and the principal military adviser to the President of the United States. , said he didn't think Boykin's remarks violated any military rules. (It's intriguing to speculate what Myers might have said if Boykin were a devout Muslim and had made disparaging dis·par·age
tr.v. dis·par·aged, dis·par·ag·ing, dis·par·ag·es
1. To speak of in a slighting or disrespectful way; belittle. See Synonyms at decry.
2. To reduce in esteem or rank. remarks about Christians or Jews.) Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld praised the general as ``an officer that has an outstanding record in the United States armed forces Used to denote collectively only the regular components of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. See also Armed Forces of the United States. .''
That's an understatement. Boykin's resume reads like a Tom Clancy novel, with special ops and counter-terrorism activities ranging from Iran to Somalia to the Middle East. He rose from the ranks, starting as a Delta Force commando and moving up to serve in the Joint Special Operations Command The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is a component command of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). It was established on December 15, 1980, in the aftermath of the failure of Operation Eagle Claw. and the CIA CIA: see Central Intelligence Agency.
(1) (Confidentiality Integrity Authentication) The three important concerns with regards to information security. Encryption is used to provide confidentiality (privacy, secrecy). . He's an accomplished soldier who has made a huge mistake.
Boykin has done some backtracking (algorithm) backtracking - A scheme for solving a series of sub-problems each of which may have multiple possible solutions and where the solution chosen for one sub-problem may affect the possible solutions of later sub-problems. on his comments, apologizing to anyone he might have offended and pledging to curtail his future public appearances. That's insufficient. The general has a right to believe whatever he wants and to worship how and wherever he pleases. But his public comments represent the U.S. military and the nation he serves - and have inflicted damage on both. He should stand aside.