Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The U.S. military performing "religious re-education" in Iraq on children

The Washington Post reports that with the population growing in Iraqi detention centers, the U.S. military has now began engaging in "religious re-education" programs. The detention centers in Iraq are under the command of Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone.

Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to "bend them back to our will" and are part of waging war in what he called "the battlefield of the mind." Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the "House of Wisdom."

The number of Iraqi's now held in detention camps, according to the Washington Post article, has grown to around 25,000, of which over 820 are children as young as 11 years old. Not only does this program include children, but, Maj. Gen. Stone said that the program, in fact, has now shifted towards the children:

The 25,000 detainees now being held in U.S. facilities in Iraq include more than 820 juveniles, Stone said, most of whom are held in the House of Wisdom, which opened last month and is located at the Camp Victory military base near Baghdad's airport. He said that six additional young people had been sent to him just yesterday, and that "the trend is towards the youth," including 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds. He described older juveniles -- the 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds -- as "harder nuts" and said that 50 to 60 of them have been removed from U.S. detention facilities and turned over to Iraqi authorities for trial. (my emphasis added)

This is not the first time that a nation has tried to "educate" children in an ideology; Adolph Hitler had youth camps:

From 1940 to 1945, over 2.8 million German children were sent to these camps. There were separate KLV camps for boys and girls. About 5,000 camps were eventually in operation, varying greatly in sizes from the smallest which had 18 children to the largest which held 1,200. Each camp was run by a Nazi approved teacher and a Hitler Youth squad leader. The camps replaced big city grammar schools, most of which were closed due to the bombing. Reluctant parents were forced to send their children away to the camps.

Life inside the boys' camp was harsh, featuring a dreary routine of roll calls, para-military field exercises, hikes, marches, recitation of Nazi slogans and propaganda, along with endless singing of Hitler Youth songs and Nazi anthems. School work was neglected while supreme emphasis was placed on the boys learning to automatically snap-to attention at any time of the day or night and to obey all orders unconditionally "without any if or buts."

Isolated in these camp and without any counter-balancing influences from a home life, the boys descended into a primitive, survival of the fittest mentality. Weakness was despised. Civilized notions of generosity and sympathy for those in need faded. Rigid pecking orders arose in which the youngest and most vulnerable boys were bullied, humiliated, and otherwise made to suffer, including sexual abuse.

This is the difference between the "carrot" versus the "stick" mentality. In Iraq, we use soccer teams. In Germany, it was abuse. The goal, however, to condition minors to believe and act in a certain, pre-dispositioned manner, is the same. The method used is same; segregate children for conditioning.

Can our nation sink any lower than to sponsor the religious "re-education" of children in a country we invaded and occupy? For anyone to even attempt to justify this practice by claiming that it turns "extremist's" into "moderate Islamist's", means that the person has to totally disregard the facts; we are holding children in detention camps and trying to modify their religious beliefs. This would be no different than if an Evangelical parent had their child placed in a detention camp and their child was "re-educated" to be a more "moderate Protestant". The outcry that would ensue from such an action would be deafening and it underscores the utter hypocrisy that is occurring today in our political discourse and policies.

The religious foundation Operation Straight Up (OSU), tried to send our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan copies of a religious "video game" called "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" in care packages. When it was brought to light that the video game entailed "soldiers for Christ" trying to convert non-believers and killing them, the Pentagon put a halt to it. But, keep in mind, the Pentagon only put a halt to it after America learned about it; not when it was proposed. Yes, that is what our soldiers need to play while occupying an Islamic country; a video game where killing non-believers won you points!

This LA Times op/ed details just how hard the religious-right is pushing to indoctrinate our own military into not just being religious, but, being a certain religion. The "war on terror" is no longer a war against terrorist organization's; it has been turned into a religious war by our government and our military. The war in Iraq is no longer about fighting Al-Qaeda (who wasn't even in Iraq until after we invaded the Middle East); it is about indoctrinating children into a certain religious belief.

For one minute, just one, can we even begin to try and comprehend how an American family, after a foreign invasion of our country, would feel if they were thrown into prison, called "rotten egg's" as Maj. Gen. Stone called those detained in Iraq, and their CHILDREN were put into a detention camp to be "re-educated religiously" into a different ideology by the occupiers? Can we even begin to fathom the hatred that this would foster in American citizens as news spread?

And, if only to punctuate that the Iraqi government is but a puppet to the United States, Maj. Gen. Stone quotes Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi as saying; "America could win the war if they just applied the exact process that you're putting in detention to the rest of the entire nation," (Stone's words). Yes, if we merely put EVERYONE in Iraq into a detention center, if we were but able to lock up ALL of the CHILDREN and if we merely RE-EDUCATED everyone to OUR way of thinking, we could win the war! This mentality, that if only we turned Iraq today into Germany of the 1940's, we could win the war is the very definition of insanity.

This "program" needs as much attention brought to it as possible. It must be denounced. It must be stopped. America is not Germany and this is 2007 not the 1940's. A country, our country, cannot be allowed to detain the children of a nation we invaded and occupy, much less, be allowed to sponsor "re-education camps" for those children.