It was one year ago today that 13 American soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their nation. American soldiers enlist knowing they will almost certainly be sent to a theater of war. Many know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’ll go outside the wire, and be at grave risk, every day, for months, a year, on end. They’ll come home for a year, and go right back and do it again. They have a right to think that at their home station, they are safe from perils of war. Instead, they were slain by the hand of a man they should have been able to trust as their own flesh and blood.
The Army is a huge, often impersonal organization. There will inevitably be occasions where members fail to live up to the highest standards of the service. Lord knows, many was the time I struggled to make the right choice.
But as horrific as the cowardly attack was, it was the actions of the Army beforehand that were shameful. As the Army fights a war on two fronts against radical Islamists, it bowed to the demands of political correctness, and kept in the service a doctor who was so marginally competent, he’d never make a living in private practice. As this evil fool became more radicalized, and was seen to less stable, his superior officers let the problem slide, and then shifted it from their desk by allowing him to transfer to another station.
Courage is a funny thing. Physical courage is common. It’s surprisingly easy to place your only body at risk. Why else would people be in bar fights, go rock climbing, or play football?
But moral courage… That is a far more difficult proposition…
How seductive the call of our lesser selves that distracts us from our duty. Had any officer made the correct and right, and moral call, and prevented Hassan from advancing in the Army, those 13 soldiers would not have been cut down. But it was so easy for Hassan’s superior officers to just pretend that the problem would go away. It was easier than sitting him down and telling him to his face he wasn’t good enough to be an officer. It was easier than sitting down with their own superiors and saying that Hassan needed to go. Instead of holding Hassan to the standards set, it was easier to pretend that he was “close enough for government work.”
Ever been on a bus, train, subway, and that weird dude comes on board? He’s nutty, but you avoid eye contact? Just hoping he’d go away and leave you alone. Hassan’s superiors did the same damn thing. And it got people killed.
Having screwed up, the Army doubled down on stupid and cowardly. When the investigation into the shooting was conducted, the Army couldn’t even bring itself to admit what the problem was. I understand that we aren’t at war with every single Muslim in the world. But the Army couldn’t even bring itself to say what Hassan himself proclaimed was his reason for his murderous rampage. Not one mention of him being a radicalized Muslim in the whole report. There are Muslims in the Army who serve with honor and distinction. But there have been multiple incidences where Muslims wearing the uniform have put their perverted vision of their faith ahead of their oath to their nation. With the increased emphasis on mental health in the services, the Army can’t even approach it from a mental hygiene point of view- how do you tell if one of your soldiers is becoming radicalized? When does devotion become something sinister? Where do commanders draw the line? Nothing the Army can do will erase the moral failings of Hassan’s commanders who failed in their duty. But it is not too late for the Army to atone for its shameful failure to address the issue of radicalized Muslims in the ranks. How many more soldiers will die at the hands of another soldier before the Army does the right thing?