I’m glad to see that NR is not necessarily against Boykin. So far as I can see, the best argument for removing him (and one made by a number of people who e-mailed me) is that his comments (however unfairly interpreted) have made it impossible to get the sort of co-operation that his job implies from the leadership of the Muslim nations from whom we will be looking for co-operation in the war against terror. Realpolitik is an ugly business, but if that is to be the reason for firing a patriot who has served his country with honor it should be explicit.
Boykin’s remarks (as so far released) were tactless, but their substance gives no other reason for his dismissal (and I write as someone with beliefs that the good general would undoubtedly think would doom me to the Devil’s fiery pit). A recent New York Times editorial calling for his dismissal gives an example of the muddled thinking displayed by those who would remove him. Here are some extracts:
“Not only did a high-ranking government official make remarks that espoused a single religious view…”
Since when has that been a disqualification from office?
“…and denigrated others…”
But he didn’t. Yes, he made clear that he was not a follower of Islam (to put it mildly), but his ‘denigration’ was reserved for the terrorists.
“President Bush and all other top officials have said often, and rightly, that the United States is not engaged in a religious war. General Boykin…should not be undermining that policy…”
To repeat, Boykin did not say that he was engaged in a war against Islam, but a war against terrorists, terrorists he considers to be the agents of Satan. Now that’s not my explanation as to bin Laden’s motive, but, given the nature of his crimes, it should be no surprise that someone who is religious sees the evil of the man in those terms. And, as for the US not being engaged in a religious war, that’s only partly true. Of course, America should not declare war on Islam. That would be madness. The US should be looking for allies in the Muslim world, a large proportion of which wants to have nothing to do with Wahhabism’s vicious delusion. At the same time, there’s no denying that the war against the US is religiously inspired. The failure to understand the implications of that is one of the major failures of the current administration. America may not be fighting a religious war, but someone is fighting a religious war against America – and the US should respond appropriately.
Sorting out the US Army’s chaplaincy problem might be a start.