There will be people who see nothing wrong with the U.S. army becoming an army of evangelising Christian Soldiers. None of them should be allowed anywhere near a critical and supposedly “population-centric COIN” operation.
Al-Jazeera became aware of the above video through the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who have been aware of it since last fall. Jeremy Scahill at HuffPo has the rundown:
…US military forces in Afghanistan have been instructed by the military’s top chaplain in the country to “hunt people for Jesus” as they spread Christianity to the overwhelmingly Muslim population. Soldiers also have imported bibles translated into Pashto and Dari, the two dominant languages of Afghanistan.
…In a video obtained by Al Jazeera and broadcast Monday, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, the chief of the US military chaplains in Afghanistan, is seen telling soldiers that as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility “to be witnesses for him.”
“The special forces guys – they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down,” he says.
“Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That’s what we do, that’s our business.”
The translated Bibles appear to be the New Testament. According to Al Jazeera, US soldiers “had them specially printed and shipped to Afghanistan.” On the tape, one soldier describes how his church in the US helped raise money for the bibles. Al Jazeera reports that “What these soldiers have been doing may well be in direct violation of the US Constitution, their professional codes and the regulations in place for all forces in Afghanistan.” The US military officially forbids “proselytising of any religion, faith or practice.”
But by describing the bibles as “gifts” the chaplain tells troops, they can get around the regulations.
In the comments to Scahill’s post,Chris Rodda of the MRFF writes:
I’ve posted quite a few pieces here [at HuffPo] about the proselytizing of Muslims by our military, but all the photographs, other videos, and even quotes from military officers admitting they’re doing this have, for some reason, not been enough to convince most people that this is really going on, and how serious a problem it is. Maybe this video will wake people — and our military leadership — up.
Maybe it will serve as a wake-up call for those who believe that anything even close to “textbook” COIN operations can be done by the US military in Afghanistan. For Obama’s vague plan to have any chance of success, so-called “hearts and minds” operations are essential. Fat chance of those working well if a band of zealot Christian Soldiers are tasked with them. As Scahill notes:
Trying to convert Muslims to any other faith is a crime in Afghanistan. The fact that the video footage is being broadcast on Al Jazeera guarantees that it will be seen throughout the Muslim world. It is likely to add more credence to the perception that the US is engaging in a war on Islam with neo-crusader forces invading Muslim lands.
Former Afghan prime minister Ahmed Shah Ahmedzai described the video as ”very damaging for diplomatic relations between the two counties,” while Sayed Aalam Uddin Asser, of the Islamic Front for Peace and Understanding in Kabul, told the network: “It’s a national security issue … our constitution says nothing can take place in Afghanistan against Islam.told Al-Jazeera ”If people come and propaganda other religions which have no followers in Afghanistan [then] it creates problems for the people, for peace, for stability.”
Yet more colonial White Man’s Burden thinking, just like the other set of American interventionists in charge of US foreign policy.
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