Charles Cameron has been guest blogging here in a series on radical Islamism and terrorism and is now branching out in to more general posts that touch upon apocalyptic or esoteric religious movements.. A former researcher with the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, his most recent essay, an analysis of the powerpoint presentation of Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan, appeared in the Small Wars Journal.
Personally, I found this post very interesting because I have seen repeated – and in my view, nutty – speculation or argument by progressives that the U.S. military has a secret fundamentalist Christian agenda. Charles highlights a flipside form of paranoia below reminiscient of Richard Hofstadter:
Millenarianism and the Paranoid Style
by Charles Cameron
A major writing his thesis for the MMAS degree at SAMS / Fort Leavenworth a couple of years back took for his topic “Strategic Implications of American Millennialism”. He wrote about the impact that (eg) the expectation of Christ’s soon return to Jerusalem implying that the Israelis should rebuild the Temple on Temple Mount (and thus arguably displace the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock which currently stand there) might have on peace talks in the ME. And he thought that thinking of this kind was a poor foundation on which to build US foreign policy. I imagine he got the degree, since his monograph has been available on the web along with 2,500 others.
It seems that early this week, a pre-millennialist Christian ran across the document an began to alert others. If you search Google for “Strategic Implications of American Millennialism” today, you’ll get 13,000 hits, including one on the blog of a prominent “prophecy” writer, John McTernan, and another on the “Worldview Matters” podcast of Christian Worldview Network, which offers an interview with McTernan. McTernan claims:
This … is an United States Army report about the literal believers of the Bible and how they affect American foreign policy. It is the most dangerous document to believers that I have ever read in my entire life. After reading this document, it is easy to see the next step would be to eliminate our Constitutional rights and herd us into concentration camps.
So a grad student’s monograph is being taken for something with the authority of a Field Manual, and thousands of Christians are concerned enough that their government is about to intern them that they read the monograph as strong evidence of that theory.
This ties in with late 1990s concerns that FEMA was about to herd people into camps. Indeed, a commenter on McTernan’s blog writes:
Why would the National Guard need so many “Internment/ Resettlement Specialist” for “FEMA camps”…in the USA? This administration recognizes there will be those who WILL NOT compromise their faith, military members included (about 25-50 million Americans according to some articles). So, these people (we) will have to be dealt with. Put two and two together: the radical thinking of this administration and the “FEMA camps” for those that need “reeducation
The FEMA concentration camp story has long legs — I first wrote about it in a paper on “web-based conspiracist and apocalyptic interpretations of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency” back in 1999, when it was routinely tied in with Y2K concerns — and the degree of “connecting the dots” can be pretty impressive: one commenter on a FEMA camp scare site proclaims:
….the Bush Family are very strong supporters of the new world order and if viewed closely; resembles the Communest [sic] Manifesto
I don’t think we should read the sudden interest in concentration camps for evangelicals as pointing inexorably to some terrifying outcome, but it is becoming part of the scenery. What its impact on military personnel who regard people like McTernan as prophetic voices will be is hard to estimate — but Maj. Stuckert who as far as I can tell is currently deployed to Kabul, is in for a shock when he finds out that a paper he wrote now has him figuring as a principal spokesman for the US Army’s preparations to serve the Antichrist. And the same is presumably true for Col. Stefan J. Banach, the Director of SAMS, who is named as “Responsible Person” on the monograph’s “Report Documentation Page” — who has already fielded at least one irate phone-call on the subject, and is suggested as a target for such calls by McTernan.
One thing that might really help ease the situation would be for DOD or the School of Advanced Military Studies to post a note attached to Maj. Stuckert’s monograph, stating unequivocally that it does not represent Army policy but is one of 2,500 similar theses explored by students in the course of obtaining a degree, and as such presents one student officer’s views only.