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The Pentagon Unleashes a Holy Warrior

Commentary

A Christian extremist in a high Defense post can only set back the U.S. approach to the Muslim world.

October 16, 2003|William M. Arkin | William M. Arkin is a military affairs analyst who writes regularly for The Times.

"Well, you know what?" Boykin continued. "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." Atto later was captured.

Other countries, Boykin said last year, "have lost their morals, lost their values. But America is still a Christian nation."

The general has said he has no doubt that our side is the side of the true God. He says he attends prayer services five times a week.

In Iraq, he told the Oregon congregation, special operations forces were victorious precisely because of their faith in God. "Ladies and gentlemen ... I want to impress upon you that the battle that we're in is a spiritual battle," he said . "Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army."

Since 9/11, the war against terrorism has become almost exclusively a special operations war, melding military and CIA paramilitary and covert activities with finer and finer grained integrated intelligence information. Hence, the creation of Boykin's new job as deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence.

The task facing Boykin, Rumsfeld insiders say, is to break down the wall between different intelligence collectors and agencies and quickly get the best information and analysis for American forces in the field.

But even as he begins his new duties, Boykin is still publicly preaching.

As late as Sept. 27, he was in Vero Beach, Fla., speaking on behalf of Visitation House Ministries.

In describing the war against terrorism, President Bush frequently says it "is not a war against Islam." In his National Security Strategy, Bush declared that "the war on terrorism is not a clash of civilizations." Yet many in the Islamic world see the U.S. as waging a cultural and religious war against them. In fact, the White House's own Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World reported this month that since 9/11, "hostility toward America has reached shocking levels."

"Arabs and Muslims respond in anger to what they perceive as U.S. denigration of their societies and cultures," the report stated.

The task for the U.S., the report said, is to wage "a major struggle to expand the zone of tolerance and marginalize extremists."

Appointing Jerry Boykin, with his visions of holy war in the Islamic world, to a top position in the United States military is no way to marginalize extremism.

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