The Pentagon plays mind games with Muslims

Richard Cohen
Copyright 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010; 10:41 AM

In a devilish bit of psychological warfare, the Pentagon has invited the Rev. Franklin Graham to speak there next month. Graham, son of evangelical preacher Billy Graham, is probably best known in the Muslim world for pronouncing Islam a ???very evil and wicked religion??? -- a judgment with which something like a billion people are bound to differ. The mere entry of the man into the iconic building on the Potomac is bound to throw our enemies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places in the Muslim world off-balance. They must wonder about a trap. Could America be so stupid? The answer is a resounding ???yes.??? But our enemies -- impressed as they are with our incredibly weaponry, drones that fly high and forever, commanding officers both scholarly and lean (read Thucydides, run four miles), a president who writes his own speeches and books, not to mention the recent introduction of the stunning and mysteriously hyped iPad -- are not going to believe that in trying to win the hearts and minds of Muslims, the invidious and appallingly unsophisticated Graham has been invited to the Pentagon. This, they will conclude, is some sort of clever psych-ops plan. Graham???s upcoming visit was revealed and denounced by the indomitable Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force officer who naively accepts the Constitution at face value and believes in the separation of church and state. His organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is protesting the Graham visit, apparently not realizing the invitation to speak is part of yet another plan to drive our enemies crazy. It follows, in fact, the clever operation at Abu Ghraib ??? weren???t those pictures wonderful? And the inadvertent use of the word ???crusade??? by former President Bush to describe what the U.S. was attempting to do in the Muslim world. Some Muslims apparently felt that the several crusades back in the Middle Ages were more than enough. They had a point, and Bush, to his credit, apologized. Graham, though, has not apologized. He has explained and he has amplified, but none of that is bound to appease Muslims, who, for some odd reason, do not think their religion is evil. They will be insulted by Graham???s invitation to speak May 6 for the National Day of Prayer (mark your calendar) and perplexed as well. That has to be the explanation for it all. The Pentagon is trying to drive the Muslim world crazy. This time, it just could work.

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