I could have titled this column "Your tax dollars at work" in describing a recent $6 million Defense Department-funded study that reached the outrageous conclusion that Islamic terrorists are "misunderstood."
Was the Fort Hood shooter misunderstood? I don't think so.
This silly study by researchers at Arizona State University is a classic example of how the federal government wastes our tax money. I think the desert sun must have fried the brains of the ivory tower authors of this phantasmagorical study.
Conservative Judicial Watch described the ASU/DoD project as follows: "A new government study says Muslim terrorists are widely misunderstood and don't wish to impose Islam around the world, as is commonly believed in the West; they simply murder innocent people to defend against attacks by enemies of Islam."
That idiotic conclusion should give a lot of comfort to the families and friends of the 3,000 innocent civilians who were murdered by bloodthirsty Islamic jihadists in the 9/11 terror attacks. Frankly, I think survivors of the 9/11 victims should sue ASU and the Pentagon for inflicting additional pain and suffering on them 11 years after the deadly attacks.
I occasionally talk to well-meaning but misguided people who refuse to acknowledge that we're involved in a War on Terror - known as "overseas contingency operations" in Holder/Obama-speak - and/or those who refer to domestic terror attacks like the Fort Hood shooting rampage as "workplace violence."
These folks would rather stick their heads in the sand than recognize that Islamic extremism constitutes a clear and present danger to U.S. national security.
Researchers at the ASU Center for Strategic Communication (whatever that is) analyzed more than 2,000 al-Qaida "propaganda items" and catalogued more than 1,500 quotes from the Qu'ran, or Koran, that Islamic extremists used to justify their terrorist attacks over an 11-year period. They concluded that "most of the quotes are about enduring hardships and maintaining faith and hope in the face of attacks by the enemies of Islam."
These academic airheads then recommended that the West should "abandon claims that Islamic extremists seek world domination" and "focus on addressing claims of victim-ization."
Judicial Watch called these recommendations "comical," and I agree, but it isn't comical to spend $6 million in taxpayer dollars on this kind of academic piffle.
And moreover, the Defense Department is also spending $4.5 million on another academic study about how Islamic extremists "use narrative to influence contested populations" in different parts of the world.
Now there's a real head-scratcher, but it only costs $4.5 million, which is chump change in Washington.
Personally, I think Congress should slash the Pentagon's huge "strategic communication" budget because most military officers don't understand it, they don't do it very well and they continue to violate American journalism standards by paying foreign journalists to write favorable stories about the United States.
Instead, DoD should turn its strategic communication operations over to the State Department's Office of Public Diplomacy, which could do a far better job of defending and explaining U.S. foreign policy objectives for far less money.
• Retired diplomat Guy W. Farmer was a public diplomacy specialist in the U.S. Foreign Service.