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Author Topic: The New American Militarism
WarrsawPact
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This was fascinating for me, since I've been thinking about thew subject quite a lot, and I just know it will be awesome forum fodder for anyone with the patience to read through it. I have a lot to add and a lot to quibble with, but this is just to get the ball rolling:

The Normalization of War by Andrew J. Bacevich

The first sentence: "At the end of the Cold War, Americans said yes to military power."

Bacevich builds his argument about the prospect of unending American militarism and a whole host of important related issues. For example, there's the troubling trend in the military to think of themselves as morally superior to the society they serve -- and in a democratic country, alarm bells should be going off for you right about now...

This is just delicious. Follow the link, and to start, go ahead and just read from where the essay begins.

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KnightEnder
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I was just thinking about you. Somebody on television was quoting Nitzsche. The jist of it was that "man is never really at peace. That even during times of "peace", there is still some form of conflict going on. And that there are no winners or losers, just those that live to fight another day."

I think it might have been at the end of a show on Vietnam I was watching on The History Channel. Anybody familiar with that Nitzsche quote? I'll respond to this after I've had time to read the linked article.

KE

[ April 30, 2005, 02:25 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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kelcimer
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quote:
It was "coercive diplomacy" -- the object of the exercise no longer to kill but to persuade.
War has always been about persuading. Persuading your enemy that it's not worth fighting you. that hasn't changed.
quote:
American commanders, affirmed General Tommy Franks, could expect to enjoy "the kind of Olympian perspective that Homer had given his gods."
I'm still reading Tommy Frank's book and I'm past the point where he said that. The point is to be really really good at what you do so that as few of your own die. I find it difficult to see that as a bad thing.
quote:
While confidence in the executive branch, the Congress, the media, and even organized religion is diminishing, confidence in the military continues to climb.
Well, it was brought down pretty good by Vietnam and subsequent years. What goes down must come up.

That was a good read. The author has good concerns. I very much like where we are going with our military, but I have to concede that he is asking good questions.

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RickyB
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"American commanders, affirmed General Tommy Franks, could expect to enjoy "the kind of Olympian perspective that Homer had given his gods."

I don't know the context, but this sounds like hubris. [Big Grin]

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RickyB
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From the article: "But my disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute. Fiscal irresponsibility, a buccaneering foreign policy, a disregard for the Constitution, the barest lip service as a response to profound moral controversies: these do not qualify as authentically conservative values."

Like I was saying after the last elections: Go on, dittoheads. Y'all have the power. Do your thing. At this rate, 2008 should be a foregone conclusion...

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kelcimer
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It was a comment about how far the command center has come along in being connected to the battlefield and vis versa. The he outlined this change from his experience as a soldier on the battlefield, being part of command during the Gulf War, and being commander of Wars in Afghanistan & Iraq. Which he is right. The degree with which the command centers situational awareness is just so incalcuably better then anything previously had. It's not "Olympian perspective" as such, but it's the next best thing.
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FiredrakeRAGE
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quote:
I very much like where we are going with our military, but I have to concede that he is asking good questions.
It is very much a question of purpose. Is the purpose of the military to make our foreign diplomatic exercises more successful, or to defend the actual shores of the United States?

It seems to me that a lot of the reason that the use of the military continues to be the panacea is simply that a politician cannot fail to enhance the military. With the modern media, a politician cannot be for a smaller military and not be a peacenik.

A little more isolationism might be a good thing. While defense spending might drop (meaning a drop in jobs, etc), I believe that recalling much of our military (and 'downsizing' it) might make for more corporations within the United States. It is one thing to base a corporation (or invest in a corp.) that is in a country that is not all that stable when the US military will respond to any real instability. It is an entirely different thing (a thing with much higher insurance costs) when the US military will not operate too far outside the United States.

RickyB -

If you read the article, it complained that both political parties were intent on the same large-military policy. This isn't a 'Republican' or 'Democrat' article, it is an article that attempts to critique our current military stance.

--Firedrake

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RickyB
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Kelcimer - thanks. I kinda figured there was some context that made it ok. I never had the impression that Tommy Franks is a gasbag [Smile]

FD - I understand that. However, the quote I offered refers specifically to the excesses of the current administration.

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Mike_W
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This is the thing I was trying to get at way back when I got into a bun fight with Lewkowski about much of the justification for the Iraq war being profoundly liberal, rather than conservative.
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potemkyn
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quote:
With the passing of crisis, the army raised up for the crisis went immediately out of existence. This had been the case in 1865, in 1918, and in 1945.
This is totally untrue in two of the cases. In 1865, a large portion of the Army was used to maintain Reconstruction in the South for the next decade and then the rest was sent West to clear the Great Plains of Native Americans. Then of course there were the foreign adventures that the US attempted during the post-Civil War era culminating in the Spanish-American War. Same thing with 1945, there was a drop, but the Army did not return to anything like pre-war troop and equipment levels. And a lot were overseas. Plus there was Korea right afterwards and plenty of involvement in South America and Europe. This is not as unique as he would like to believe. The US military has characteristically not gone away after global shattering events. In 1918, it is more likely that since the army had been growing for under two years and most of it still wasn't equiped by the time the war ended that there never was any way or ability to support said army.

Potemkyn

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Pelegius
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I have two quirrles with the military.
1. People die in wars. This sounds self-obvious, and it is. Every time we go to war we send people only a few years removed from childhood to kill other young men, or be killed by them. And the civilians, one Time artical said in an unitintional moment of ironic understatment, "The U.S. Army does not count civilian casualties in times of war." (That was a few years ago, so the wording might not be perfect, but that was definitly the idea.)
2. Its absurdly expensive. The U.S. spends more on the military than any other country. Fine, its very wealthy, but the fact that it spends more on the military than on almost anything else. The department of defense (note that this does not include the Coast Guard and quite a bit of defensive spending which is clasified under Homeland Seurity)'s budget for 2006 comes to $419.3 Billion. Compare this to budget on The Department of Health and Human services, responsible for Medicar, Medicade, Bioterroism prevention and much more: $67.2 billion. Or the department of Education's: $56.0 billion. I have heard NASA described as a drain on our finaces, but with a budget of $16.5 billion even the rocket scietests are underfounded. The famously obscure but still important Department of Labor gets $11.5 billion . I could go on, but all just add this link: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2006/budget.html

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potemkyn
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Pelegius,

Ironically, the more money they spend, the fewer the number of people who die.

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Pelegius
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I must dispute that point. Costa Rica spends no money on its military and no people have died in a Costa Rican military engagement since it stoped spending money on its military, which is, by the way non-existant. If Costa Rica, in the middle of war-ravaged Central America can do it, then why can't the U.S. in peacful North America.
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potemkyn
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Because the US is insisting on being the world's vigilante. Since it is going around like this, the more it spends reduces the amount of people who will die.
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FiredrakeRAGE
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Potemkyn said:
quote:
Because the US is insisting on being the world's vigilante. Since it is going around like this, the more it spends reduces the amount of people who will die.
Ugh. Yes, military adventurism is sometimes bad. However, the United States is not a 'vigilante' if they do not ask the permission of the world, the UN, or anyone but the citizens of the United States. We do not need permission to go to war!

--Firedrake

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WarrsawPact
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"Vigilante" implies that there are judges who would otherwise be providing due process.

This is not the case. Dictators are suspiciously good at avoiding court dates, when anyone even bothers to point out that they're committing democide.

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Pelegius
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Actualy there is a court. The International Crimanal Court. We had a discussian going on about the U.S. and the U.N., but it seems to have vanished. It's not here, it's not in the archives. Has any one seen it? Should we put its face on a milk carton?
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Richard Dey
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KE:

The Sophists often argued that man was self-destructive. Bacevich is a pawn of the military elite. I've never trusted him. One of his arguments is that politics led our military into bad wars -- when I've already shown that the military also was leading our politics into bad wars: "Ground War in Southeast Asia Could Help Our Side" argued our brass in *The Boston Herald in the late fifties. When Ike warned of the military-industrial complex, he politely avoided the 3rd quean in the trinity: politics.

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WarrsawPact
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Pelegius -

The ICC uses what "police officers" to collect those who violate the "international law" regime?

Think Saddam, Kim Jung-Il, or Osama bin Laden -- and their henchmen -- are going to get their subpoena notice in the mail and go, "Darn, I'd better show up for that!"?

No, you serve that notice at the end of an M-16 wielded by a US Marine.

The end of the Cold War left the world without a functioning international law regime -- Bosnia made that crystal frikkin' clear. As with the end of previous epochal wars, we'll need to come up with something new.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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WarrsawPact said:
quote:
The end of the Cold War left the world without a functioning international law regime -- Bosnia made that crystal frikkin' clear. As with the end of previous epochal wars, we'll need to come up with something new.
Or we can enforce US law within US borders - and let the rest of the world figure out its own system.

--Firedrake

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WarrsawPact
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You're kidding, right?

Take the open waters of the world and subtract the US Navy, which has more combat power than every other navy combined.
You try and tell me what happens.

Tell me how the rest of the world is going to handle jerks like Saddam and Kim and various other dictators. The credible threat of force by American military power makes even an indirect conventional attack on US interests so foolish that -- lest no one has noticed -- it doesn't happen!

Do you think this whole structure holds itself up? That South Korea and Taiwan and Israel and everyone we protect can handle themselves just fine?
That a free trade regime can wrap the whole world 'round without our Navy and forward bases?

What century are you guys living in?
We don't go on military adventures just for the hell of it. We may be a little too eager by many people's standards... but we're not totally off our rockers. This is how we're making inroads everywhere. This is the implicit or explicit threat that allows our diplomacy to be so much more effective than the super-diplomats of the 18th century and earlier could have imagined. This is what keeps Europe peaceful while they spend historically tiny percentages of their GDP on their own militaries and ponder a unified Europe. This is, indirectly, what keeps our economy humming.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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quote:
Do you think this whole structure holds itself up? That South Korea and Taiwan and Israel and everyone we protect can handle themselves just fine?
Of course not. Like it or not, US military might is what keeps a significant number of countries out there stable. The question is 'is such a large investment, in both money and manpower' worthwhile to the United States? I do not think it is. Yes, our economy might take a hit if China and Taiwan were to go to war – but I doubt it would cripple us. More to the point, we could scale back our military (air/army/navy/marines) to the point where they can defend our shores – but not much else. Lower taxes, more manpower, etc. will enhance our economy.

quote:
Take the open waters of the world and subtract the US Navy, which has more combat power than every other navy combined.
You try and tell me what happens.

Yes. Things that do not directly concern the United States happen. If things that directly concern the United States happen, then we should involve ourselves – else, let the countries squabble among themselves.

--Firedrake

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WarrsawPact
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Firedrake - Considering that the US trades with pretty much everyone, how can removing the Navy that protects our wondrous free trade regime do anything BUT cause things that directly affect us?
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FiredrakeRAGE
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WarrsawPact -

I started to reply to your post with the simple fact that 'government exists to protect the rights of citizens, to regulate commerce, and provide for mutual defense - not to protect foreign markets'. Then I realized – you and I are talking about different things. The United States can speak softly, but carry a big stick – and we can do it without our current deployment. If there is a true threat, we can react to it – as long as we do not have troops stationed all over everywhere. The point, however is one of finesse. If our economic situation is bad enough that we require a military presence to ensure fair trade, we need to do two things. We need to gradually scale back the economic addiction to our military, and we need to scale back our economic reliance on foreign stability.

--Firedrake

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potemkyn
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huh...

A vigiliante is defined as "One who takes or advocates the taking of law enforcement into one's own hands."

I've always understood the term to apply to a lawless situation where justice needs applying...seems apt from where I stand. But it's not really worth debating.

Potemkyn

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potemkyn
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http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/04/30/northkorea.ap/index.html

Sorry, just got word. My buddy, Kim Jong-Il told me that America is the world's "hooligan." My apologies for the initial mixup.

Potemkyn

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FiredrakeRAGE
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<chuckle> That's right. Let's take Kim Jong-Il's word for it. There's a sane voice.

--Firedrake

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kelcimer
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quote:
Actualy there is a court. The International Crimanal Court.
Gotta echo Warrsaw. Who exactly do you expect to enforce anything they say?

And yeah, the ICC violates our Constitution.
Constitution trumps UN every time.

[ May 01, 2005, 12:59 AM: Message edited by: kelcimer ]

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David Ricardo
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In a related note, part of the problem is that the military is becoming unduly influenced by sinister religious elements.

For example:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/archives/004975.html#004975

quote:
quote:
The Toughest 44 Jews In The World

From the NY Times:

Less than two years after it was plunged into a rape scandal, the Air Force Academy is scrambling to address complaints that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the school that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive.

There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.

The 4,300-student school recently started requiring staff members and cadets to take a 50-minute religious-tolerance class.

I don't know what is going on here, but it doesn't sound good. Specifically when you have this sort of thing coming from the leadership:

The superintendent, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, conceded there was a problem during a recent meeting of the Board of Visitors, the civilian group that oversees the academy.

''The problem is people have been across the line for so many years when you try and come back in bounds, people get offended,'' he said.

The board chairman, former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, warned Rosa that changing things could prove complicated. He said evangelical Christians ''do not check their religion at the door.''

Here we go again. Some basic info about the academy:

More than 90 percent of the cadets identify themselves as Christian. A cadet survey in 2003 found that half had heard religious slurs and jokes, and that many non-Christians believed Christians get special treatment.

''There were people walking up to someone and basically they would get in a conversation and it would end with, `If you don't believe what I believe you are going to hell,''' Vice Commandant Col. Debra Gray said...

Rosa and other academy leaders say some among the large number of Christian cadets -- nearly 2,600 are Protestant, some 1,300 are Roman Catholic, and about 120 are Mormon -- may not realize that evangelism is unwelcome among their fellow students. The corps of cadets also includes 44 Jews, 19 Buddhists and a few Muslims, Hindus and others. There are 15 chaplains and one rabbi.

Again, I don't know what is going on, and I am suspicious of anything that comes from the pressure cookers that are our military academies, but there has to be a little something to this story. At any rate, the reason I am posting this is not to engage in Christian bashing, but to expose this absurd statement:

Two of the nation's most influential evangelical Christian groups, Focus on the Family and New Life Church, are headquartered in nearby Colorado Springs. Tom Minnery, an official at Focus on the Family, disputed claims that evangelical Christians are pushing an agenda at the academy, and complained that ''there is an anti-Christian bigotry developing'' at the school.

Whee! Focus on the Family and James Dobson again. Gotta love it. Now on to the statement from Mr. Minnery-

Of 4300 students, 90% are Christian. That means that 44 Jews and 19 Buddhists (world renowned for their bigotry) are terrorizing 3870 Christians.

For those of you keeping count, that is one Jew for every 88 Christians, and one Buddhists for every 204 Christians. Talk about tyranny of the minority!

Oy Vey!

I wish I could see videotape of Minnery saying that with a straight face.

Somehow, I find it disturbing that religious bigotry and fundamentalism are expanding their control over our military institutions -- especially when religious fundamentalists seem so eager and intent on using the power of the state to interfere with my personal life at every level.

I also would hate to see how this expansion of religious extremism throughout the military institutions would further propagate the foolishness of moral superiority already widespread in the higher echelons of our military. After all, it is not so very hard to get caught up in fool's errand arrogant military adventurism around the world when a large proportion of your military commanders believe that the United States military is indeed fighting a religious crusade against the non-Christian heathen of the world.

[ May 01, 2005, 04:06 AM: Message edited by: David Ricardo ]

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KnightEnder
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Amen Dave.
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WarrsawPact
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quote:
More than 90 percent of the cadets identify themselves as Christian. A cadet survey in 2003 found that half had heard religious slurs and jokes, and that many non-Christians believed Christians get special treatment.
Gee, sounds like conditions in... the rest of the United States.

Poor babies!

I can't believe only half the people there had heard a religious joke or slur. I hear them all the time.
People are suspiciously easy with jokes and slurs against Catholics (especially during the priest abuse scandal) and Evangelicals (I think antiathy towards Bush had a lot to do with this), for example, and where I live we've got plenty of Jews willing to poke fun at themselves. My Jewish friend once told me I'm way more of "a Jew" than he is, for example. Another Jewish kid I know at my college told me not to "Jew on him" in a money matter.

But no religion that is a real minority out here is ever the target of a joke. I would almost hesitate to call LDS a minority here, since there were many at my high school and one was my good friend, but you just didn't *hear* Mormon jokes. You didn't hear Hindu or Muslim jokes (I knew several of those, but not nearly so many as Christians/Jews).

I don't know... maybe the jokes and slurs at the AF Academy are more mean-spirited, and maybe Christians actually do get preferential treatment (as opposed to the belief of preferential treatment ... many times you can find something if you just look hard enough for it, whether or not it's real). I've seen allegations of preferential treatment shot down before. A "white" kid where I work thought that the Hispanic management at my store was treating other Hispanics preferentially, giving them all the raises, etc. I took the kid aside and pointed out that my brother had been promoted, that every department was "racially" integrated, and that the people who had gotten promotions recently just happened to be people with seniority. The two months before he had gotten there had seen three "whites" get promoted. I also said that I had had nothing but friendly relationships with the management for two years without the slightest hint of racism.

Wow. Look at this post. All anecdotes.

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David Ricardo
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Here is a fleshing out of more of the actual abuses at the Air Force Academy. Here is the 14-page report about the religious abuses:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/archives/005013.html#005013

http://www.au.org/pdf/050428AirForceReport.pdf

quote:
quote:
1.) We have been informed, for example, that, during a Basic Cadet Training session attended by a team of observers from the Yale Divinity School, one of the Academy chaplains — Major Warren “Chappy” Watties — led a Protestant worship service in which he encouraged the attending cadets to return to their tents and proselytize cadets who had not attended the service, with the declared penalty for failure to accept this proselytization being to “burn in the fires of hell.”

2.) We have also been informed of numerous instances in which prayer was a part of mandatory or otherwise official events at the Academy. For example, we have learned that each mandatory meeting of the cadet cadre during Basic Cadet Training has opened with a prayer, and
that many other official events at the Academy — including mandatory meals in Mitchell Hall (the Academy’s Cadet Dining Facility), mandatory awards ceremonies, and mandatory military-training event dinners — have been opened with prayers.

3.) For example, we have been told that a number of faculty members have introduced themselves to their classes as born-again Christians and encouraged their students to become born again during the course of the term. We have also been informed of at least one instance where a history instructor at the Academy ordered students to pray before they were permitted to begin their final examination for the course. In addition, we have received copies of a full-page “USAFA CLM 2003 Christmas Greeting” published in the Academy’s newspaper, the Academy Spirit. The
“Greeting” lists approximately 300 signatories — arranged by Academy department — who jointly declared their “belie[f] that Jesus Christ is the only real hope for the world;” announced that “[t]here is salvation in no one else;” and directed cadets to contact them in order to “discuss Jesus." Among
the signatories are 16 heads or deputy heads of the Academy’s academic departments, 9 permanent professors, the then-Dean of the Faculty, the current Dean of the Faculty, the then-Vice Dean of the Faculty, the Academy’s Director of Athletics, and the Academy’s head football coach, as well as
spouses of these and other members of the Academy faculty and staff. And we have received copies of a sign placed on every plate in the Cadet Dining Hall and posted widely throughout the Academy announcing a Christian-themed program related to the movie The Passion of the Christ.

4.) Notably, we have received a host of reports about incidents in which Brigadier General Johnny Weida, in his official capacity as Commandant of Cadets, has endorsed religion generally and his own faith (as an evangelical Christian) in particular, in clear violation of the Establishment Clause.
General Weida has, for example, officially endorsed “National Prayer Week” in a mass email message to the Cadet Wing that can only be described as a prayer and a directive to pray. Among other things, General Weida’s e-mail message instructed cadets to “[a]sk the Lord to give us the wisdom to discover the right, the courage to choose it, and the strength to make it endure”; and the message informed the cadets that “He has a plan for each and every one of us.” Similarly, in an official “Commander’s Guidance” document, General Weida instructed cadets that they “are accountable first to your God.” Such official proselytization and prayer by a public official is, of course, the hallmark of unconstitutional conduct under the Establishment Clause.

5.) It is our understanding that Christian cadets who wish to attend Christian religious services and religious study sessions (such as “Sunday school” or Bible study) on Sundays are eligible for “non-chargeable passes” — i.e., special passes to leave the Academy grounds that do not count as regular leave. By contrast, cadets who celebrate the Sabbath on other days of the week — such as Jewish or Seventh-Day Adventist cadets, who celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday — are not able to obtain such non-chargeable passes to attend Saturday services off the Academy grounds. Indeed, we have been told that Saturday Sabbath observers frequently are denied any opportunity at all to attend religious services because mandatory events such as training, parades, and football games are routinely scheduled for Saturdays, and cadets are not permitted to miss those activities in order to attend religious services. Meanwhile, such mandatory events are not scheduled for Sundays, when they might otherwise conflict with the ability of cadets to attend Christian worship services.

There is much more. Shocked? You should be, and no, I won't calm down, Jay, because I don't think I am being hysterical or shrill. I simply fail to understand why reasonable people on my side of the aisle continue to run political cover for these folks.

I fully expect to be told I am getting 'worked up over nothing,' that these 'are just a small portion of conservatives,' and that 'everyone has a right to be heard.' Whatever. These aren't your average every day pople who just want to practice their religion freely. We are talking about a coalition of proselytizing zealots who want to control government, codify their religous outlook, and most of all, who want to control you.

No. We aren't talking about the Taliban or the radical mullahs in Saudi Arabia. They aren't stoning people, or throwing homosexuals off of towers. A pretty peculiar yardstick to measure your behavior with, though- "Hey- we're not as bad as the Taliban!" I feel better now.

I am particularly dismayed by the people who want to pooh-pooh these groups, claiming they are just a fringe element that should be ignored. Many want us to believe that all of these groups are individual actors- even people like Jay, who can clearly recognize the political ties between George Soros, Media Matters, America Coming Together, etc., but wants to pretend there is not a coordinated effort to impose a specific brand of Christianity on everyone.

Andrew Sullivan is sometimes over the top in his rhetoric, but he has an excuse- he is homosexual. They are gunning for him, first. You and I are phase two. We ignore these folks and abandon Andrew at our own peril, and if we do not confront these people, you can kiss goodbye the coalition that has swept Republicans into power.

When faced with a choice of this loose-knit coalition of frauds, bigots, hucksters, and letting the 'evil' loony left in charge, well, suddenly MoveOn doesn't seem that damned scary anymore, particularly when you consider how marginalized the Cynthia McKinney crowd is. They may tax the hell out of me and leave us with an impotent foreign policy, but I can count on them staying out of my bedroom, my science classes, my pharmacy, my marriage, and my Doctor's office.

Go ahead- force me to make a choice.

BTW- the Air Force Academy is located in Colorado Springs, home of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.

Similarly, the Air Force Academy itself is investigating itself for the same abuses:

http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123010398

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potemkyn
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Not that this isn't a serious issue, but why is he mentioning Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Oooohhh there in the same city.... the connection is a serious non sequitur.

I think that there is reasonable evidence to pursue this further, but to make claims that this is a "coalition of proselytizing zealots who want to control government, codify their religous outlook, and most of all, who want to control you" seems a bit hyperbolic.

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