Hard Left in Military (Part 3)
United States Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS (Part 3)
Analysis of Telephone Interview of Timothy L Challans, Ph.D.
I also did an in depth analysis of Professor Timothy Challans’ book Awakening Warrior. The analysis has much more information than the one for his telephone interview, but I did not use it as it was quite lengthy. I highly recommend that you do read the analysis of the book, as it contains even more stocking information about what Challans believes and was teaching at the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS). As late as 2011,
Professor Challans was still writing for the US Army as late as 2011. He wrote an article for the Special 2011 edition of Military Review (The Professional Journal of the U.S. Army) from the CAC Leader Development and Education, Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This is an official US Army journal. The article was titled: Leading Our Leaders (When policy undermines morality, leadership must come from those ostensibly being led). This shows that Challans writing were still being used at the War College. This article is blatantly anti-Christian, and Challans is challenging the idea of even having chaplains in the military!
July 22, 2007
By: Robert Ellman
Organization: Intrepid Liberal Journal (ILJ)
Found at: http://intrepidliberaljournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/awakening-warrior-interview-with-author.html
Topic: The book Awakening Warrior: An interview with author Timothy Challans
With this report, I would like you to keep a few things in mind.
Professor Challans was interviewed about his book Awakening Warrior: Revolution in the Ethics of Warfare (2007) State University of New York Press. The interview was transcribed and the following quotes are from this transcription. A complete text of this interview is found at Radio Interview. What I did was take direct quotes from the interview and when appropriate I made comments. My comments follow under “JMcT”, and any words in bold were by me.
Before the Questions and Answers, Challans biography was given.
Challans, a native of Colorado, is a West Point graduate and earned masters and doctorate degrees in philosophy at The Johns Hopkins University. For more than ten years he taught over a thousand military students from the rank of cadet to colonel, at West Point (USMA), the Command and General Staff College (CGSC), and the School for Advanced Military Studies (SAMS). He has spoken widely and presented numerous papers pertaining to the ethics of warfare. Challans was the principal author for the Army’s 1999 doctrinal manual leadership, FM 22-100, Army Leadership. His troop experience includes the 172nd Infantry Brigade at Ft. Richardson, Alaska and the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Cambell, Kentucky.
ILJ: I suspect many reading this who are like me, liberal and largely anti-war, are confused about the concept of integrating ethics and warfare. Tim is it really possible to wage the brutality of war ethically and why does that matter?
Challans: I think that’s a very good question. And whenever we do go to war that’s a huge failure when our politicians are not successful at diplomacy. We have engaged in a tremendous ethical failure. But the reality is at times we will have to fight … am not a pacifist myself although I am largely antiwar. I think we’ve been involved in far too many wars, more than we should. And that the leadership, both political and military doesn’t know how to engage in this kind of moral dialogue and we need to get a lot better at it.
JMcT: Who is for war? But, he is an instructor at the School of Advanced Military Studies and teaching officers who are to defend America in war. It is important to try and keep out of wars. But, to say “far too many wars, more than we should,” as if it is America’s fault. Notice how he belittles the civilian leadership over moral dialogue. Later, he defines this as America’s Christian thinking that is the main problem with this moral dialogue. He goes into great detail about Christianity in his book Awakening Warrior: Revolution in the Ethics of Warfare.
ILJ: In the second chapter of your book, you argue that the promotion of religion is undermining the ethics of our military and you even write that army chaplains “should get out of the ethics business in the military.” Why do you regard religion as a dangerous influence to the military’s moral compass?
Challans: If we’re looking at the three main religions in the world: Judaism, Islam and Christianity, the sacred texts for these religions really offer us very little if nothing when we go to answer these two questions,
1) When should we go to war?
2) And how should we fight it once we’re in it?
So I think the background that chaplains bring with them does not really help us in thinking about the moral questions that are at stake. And particularly the Bible is uninformative in this way. It tells us “Thou shall not kill.” OK, what do you do with that? What does the soldier do with that when he finds himself in war?
Additionally, since we’re working with the rest of the world now, I think we need some kind of ethical interoperability with the rest of the world. The rest of the world, the rest of the Western World … Europe, for example does not think of ethics in these terms. So if we’re going to be able to have a common conception of ethics, in a profession that is part of governmental structure in a democratic republic then it may be enough to think in terms that are not religious and that there are plenty of ideas out there where you don’t have to go to religion to understand respect for persons, rule of law and ethical ideas such as those
My book also controversially challenges the Just War Tradition, the just war thinking that thinkers from Augustine to Michael Walzer defend. I believe we need a totally new conception, one reason being that our Just War Tradition has developed hand-in-hand with theological thought. For example, what good does it do to say the “legitimate authority” is a just war principle? Has there ever been a case in history when the leaders of any nation would say that they did have legitimate authority to go to war? Moral authority, especially religious moral authority, is one of the root problems of our muddled thinking about the ethics of warfare. I offer an original set of ethical principles of war, reasoned from some of the most profound ethical theories.
JMcT: Notice his direct attack on Christianity and the Bible. This is why in the thesis Strategic Implications of American Millennialism written by Major Stuckert, he was so free to write what he did, and it was signed off by Dr. Challans. Notice how he wants to merge American ethics with the Europeans. This is why Major Stuckert was so free to attack Christians for being against the UN and EU. He actually thinks that Christianity is somehow a great problem, when it comes to warfare. This explains the approach to Major Stuckert’s thesis. Major Stuckert mirrors these exact thoughts.
ILJ: Your book poses many important philosophical questions challenging what you describe as the “warrior ethos.” Yet for me, the nitty gritty of your book comes down to these two sentences in Chapter Four.
You write, “The great paradox is that America goes to war against forces that it plays a large role in creating, and each war spawns new threats of largely its own creation.” That’s a harsh assessment. Do you really believe American militarism is responsible for the rise of radical Islam for example?
Challans: It may not be directly responsible if we’re thinking in the direct cause and effect relationship that you would see on a billiard table, one pool ball running into the next. But things connect up in a systemic way. And these forces are at work in ways that we really don’t sit back and reflect about.
So yes our approaches in solving problems at certain times will create the conditions for future problems. Just as in medicine today’s cures for certain diseases create tomorrow’s diseases. So, yes I do think there is this concept of blowback that the way we go about not only militarization but our economic expansion has tremendous systemic effects. An invisible hand kind of interaction where nobody is consciously intending or making something bad happen. But all these forces are at work, they’re at play in ways we don’t really think about and actually do create worse conditions making the world more dangerous year after year.
JMcT: Challans was asked a direct question: Do you really believe American militarism is responsible for the rise of radical Islam for example? He does not respond by saying no, but in a roundabout way says yes!
The US had nothing to do with the Taliban in Afghanistan as it came to power in direct reaction to Russian imperialism. The Iranian revolution was not caused by US militarism, but radical Islam because Iran had become too westernized and needed a purge. America saved Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from Iraq and then Osama bin Laden used this as an excuse to attack America. He claimed America was starving Iraqi children, when it was the United Nations personnel that took bribes in the Food for Oil program. It was the UN and not America which was starving the children.
The American army which saved Muslims in Bosnia and Somalia were trying to do the same in Lebanon until attacked by agents of Iran with the loss of 249 Marines. If anything, it was the Soviet Union which gave rise to radical Islam. This is part of the pattern with Challans that he appears to have a greatly distorted view of America and American history.
ILJ: In making your case for an ethics revolution in military culture, you challenge America’s moral standing over some of its proudest moments in history. One of them being, America’s victory over Japan in World War Two. Specifically, you accuse America of unjustifiably dropping atomic bombs on Japan when the war was essentially over. Growing up I was taught that even though the outcome was not in doubt, diehard Japanese soldiers would’ve kept fighting and taken many more American lives had President Truman not given the OK to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Couldn’t one argue that using atomic weapons was ethical because it minimized American casualties?
Challans: Here is a great example of how the military pursuit of victory – at any cost, by the way created more dangerous conditions. Our policy of unconditional surrender—an American invention in the annals of warfare beginning with Grant in the Civil War— put the Japanese Empire on notice that we were the ones who were not going to give up and accept a defeat. And here is the problem with the warrior ethos. It sounds good to us when we espouse the notion that we will never give up. But what happens when others take the same stance?
It is precisely the warrior ethos existing on both sides in that war that escalated the brutality in the Pacific theater. The warrior ethos challenges the conventions of winning and losing. What does victory even mean is our enemy will never accept defeat? This is such a deep question at such a fundamental level that it does not even register in the minds of most warriors. And for a long time now it is not just the soldiery that refuses defeat but whole populations. The talk of victory in the current war against terror is nonsensical given that people won’t let another power achieve victory. (Continued)
JMcT: Did he teach at the War College that we cannot win the war against Islamic terrorism? Did he hurt the morale of American officers by teaching them we cannot win?
His attack on General Grant is bizarre. For example, the Romans, Persians and Mongols all required unconditional surrender.
Japan was an evil imperialistic empire that raped its way through China and Korea long before it attacked America. This man puts America on their level. The Japanese slaughtered huge civilian populations in China and Korea. They fought the American army to the death. Okinawa was a picture of what it would be like to fight on the mainland. Even after America used nuclear weapons, THE JAPANESE MILITARY WANTED TO FIGHT TO THE LAST MAN. The army nearly had a military coup against the Emperor because he wanted to surrender.
Somehow in Challans’ mind the brutality of the Pacific war was caused by America demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan. It appears that Challans is not aware of the Japanese war ethos at the time called “Bushido.” It was Bushido, which was the Samurai mentality that was at the core of brutality. If America did not destroy Japan and its Bushido ethos, the war would have continued when Japan recovered. The Japanese national ethos of Bushido had to be destroyed, but somehow Challans finds a way to blame America for the brutality of the Pacific war.
Challans (Continued) I mention in the book the irony of ending the war by attacking the Japanese population at large in order to bring about a military victory. And I juxtapose that against Japan’s entry into the war that was the attacking of an American military base in Hawaii at a time before Hawaii was a state. That should symbolize our presence in the Pacific and our interference with Asia’s designs in their own region. (Continued)
JMcT: To the professor, the Japanese are honorable because they did a sneak attack on our military base, and we are bad because we destroyed their cities!
We tried not to destroy their cities, but the bombings were not precise enough to take out the industrial sites. The Japanese war industry was located in the heart of the cities. After a few weeks of fire bombing, the Kamikaze attacks stopped and the Japanese military machine was crippled. It was not destroyed but crippled.
Maybe Challans would have liked to trade the Japanese cities for our soldiers? We refrain from bombing their cities, and they then kill tens of thousands more Americans. Is this what the professor is driving at?
What Professor Challans and his American hating mindset do not understand is that a land invasion of Japan would have killed millions upon millions of Japanese civilians. Look what the Japanese army did to its own civilians during the battle of Okinawa; they killed 1000s who tried to surrender and huge numbers committed suicide!
After the war, America was kind to the Japanese and helped rebuild the nation and create a great friendship between the two nations, which has lasted since the end of the war. We even turned land back to Japan.
Challans states that America was interfering with Asia and Asia’s designs in their own region! What happened was Japan was at war with China and Korea! Apparently Challans thinks that our fleet was in the way of Japan’s ability to conquer all of Asia!
Challans (Continued) So this goes back to your further question how our actions can create more dangerous situations. When we talk about setting the example for the world and then engage in wholesale destruction of a population, I think that while we may want to justify that for ourselves I don’t think we would want the rest of the world kind of picking up that example. And I’ll just mention Ramzi Yousef, the ’93 bomber of the World Trade Center who wanted to exact revenge on the World Trade Center symbolically for the destruction we brought against Japan at the end of World War Two.
Now, many sources will define terrorism as the threat or use of force against non-combatants for some kind of political objective. It’s inconsistent for us to use that definition when we want to define terrorists who are attacking us but we will not allow that definition the way we describe what we do. Now if we go so far as to say well, all of the Japanese citizens were combatants – then the problem with that is if everyone is being consistent about that, I think that’s pretty much what the attackers on 9/11 said about the occupants of the World Trade Center. Consistency is important here. And we need to think these things through very clearly
JMcT: Challans is saying the 911 Islamic terrorists are justified in their thinking of attacking American civilians because the American military firebombed Japanese cities! This is breathtaking. If Challans was still an active officer, he should be court marshaled for this statement. Where does freedom of speech end and treason begin? It appears he is giving aid and comfort to America’s enemies during a time of war! How can this man teach our officers and what is he teaching them?
Challans uses the thinking of Muslim terrorists to justify a warped view of America. I feel like crying when reading this, and thinking this man was an American officer AND TAUGHT IN UNITED STATES COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE and West Point.
Is it possible that Osama Bin Laden would feel very comfortable under the teachings of Professor Challans? Does this represent a new thinking in the American army?
ILJ: You also cite dropping the atomic bomb as the start of the cold war as an example of American military excess creating more conflict for it to fight. In fairness to America, Stalin brutally consolidated his Iron Curtain over Eastern Europe and since the Soviets were developing atomic weapons themselves, wasn’t the Cold War inevitable?
Challans: Well, yes. In some ways it had unfolded, maybe yes. And this goes back to my previous comment – that something like the Cold War unfolded as a result of thousands of decisions and hundreds of things that were happening. And many historians will now say we dropped the bombs more to keep Russia out of sharing a victory with us in Japan than the traditional rationale. But this may also be reason to think that we if reword McArthur’s most famous line, we should think about the role of diplomacy. Maybe its more important to say there is no substitute for diplomacy.
JMcT: What utter total nonsense to say that the US dropped the atomic bomb to keep Russia from sharing the victory, The United States asked the Russians to join in the war with Japan! The Cold War was the direct result of a madman by the name of Joseph Stalin and not anything done by the United States. Diplomacy worked the same with Stalin as it did with Hitler. Somehow Challans finds a way to blame everything on America. It is evident that there is some powerful anti-American ideology behind the thinking of Professor Challans.
ILJ: Timothy you’ve been very generous with your time, a final question if I may. What sort of feedback, if any, have you received from the military establishment about your ideas in this book?
Challans: The feedback has been positive, from students and colleagues. Nobody has approached me to challenge me on anything I’ve said. I think the time is right for a moral dialogue of the sort I’m trying to carry out, one that can be critical enough to help us better understand where we’ve been, what we’re doing, and where we’re going.
JMcT: It seems impossible that Challans could think and speak like this and openly function as he did at the School of Advanced Military Studies. Were his colleagues really aware of what he believed about America? Was anyone in the army aware of this interview and his book? Since he was employed by the War College at the time of this interview, did he have to clear this with the military? At this time, Colonel Kevin Benson was in-charge of SAMS.
If he was openly teaching this view of America, it appears to be very similar to Major Nidal Hasan giving jihad PowerPoint presentations and no one stopped him.
Looking at this as an American citizen, allowing this man to teach officers in the War College is a direct threat to the integrity and security of the United States military. Based on this interview and his book Awakening Warriors, he is not fit to teach at any military college.
I would like to add just one section of Professor Challans’ book to this interview, to show scope of how bold he is about his teachings against America and the military. The section is from the closing of the book. He mentions there is hope for how terrible America is because of the students going through SAMS! He then specifically mentions Colonel Kevin Benson who wrote Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A “Vision” of the Future !
“I end with guarded optimism, for the warrior is awakening. Some warriors are beginning to think about war and morality in a serious way. Some are even thinking about means and ends in a more intellectually robust way. For example, planners who were involved in the current war in Iraq, who had been graduates of the School of Advanced Military Studies, such as Colonel Kevin Benson, had done some serious planning for the phase of the operation after the kinetic phase.” Page 185
Then with breathtaking boldness, he writes that soldiers need avenues for public reason and disagreement of orders and to even dissent or disobey with the military. It is simply difficult to believe that this man could write and speak like this and then teach at School of Advanced Military Studies. He is a professor that wants officers to have the ability or disobey orders!
“But since the days of invincible ignorance are gone (the medieval separation between the political and military spheres), we need a revolution in discourse so there are legitimate avenues of public reason and disagreement, dissent, and disobedience within the war machine. We need a healthier culture so that people know when and where they can speak out, disobey, walk away, or even resign in protest.” Page 186
I recommend that you take the time to read my analysis of Awakening Warriors.