The United States Air Force has been training its young missile officers on the ethics and morals of launching nuclear weapons through the process of citing various parts of the New Testament, as well as commentary from a former member of the Nazi Party.
Led by Air Force Chaplains, this mandatory Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare discussion is one of the first things that new missile officers are exposed to in their first week of training, and includes St. Augustine’s “Christian Just War Theory”. St. Augustine’s “Qualifications for Just War,” according to the way it is cited in a 43-page PowerPoint presentation, are: “to avenge or to avert evil; to protect the innocent and restore moral social order (just cause)” and “to restore moral order; not expand power, not for pride or revenge (just intent).”
The Air Force documents were released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and provided to Truthout by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a civil rights organization. MRFF President Mikey Weinstein said more than 30 Air Force officers, a majority of whom describe themselves as practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics, have contacted his group over the past week in hopes of enlisting him to work with the Air Force to have the Christian-themed teachings removed from the nuclear weapons ethics training session.
While there are many issues with these Christian-themed teachings, including a constitutional violation of our First Amendment which established the separation of church and state, one of the more glaring observations of the missile training presentation include multiple quotes from the Ex-Nazi and apparent moral authority, Wernher Von Braun. Von Braun’s resume includes using captured Jews in concentrations camps as well as captured French anti-Nazi civilians to help build his V-2 rocket, which killed thousands of British Civilians.
The “Jesus loves nukes speech”, as it is called by many air force personnel, includes a variety of challenging ethical questions and uses both the Old and New Testament as well as other religious documents to help trainees answer these questions. For example, in the Old Testament, “Abraham organized an army to rescue Lot,” God motivated “judges (Samson, Deborah, Barak) to fight and deliver Israel from foreign oppressors.” A later slide outlines a passage from the Book of Revelation which tries to explain how the “mighty warrior” Jesus Christ, believed that some wars to be just.
Weinstein said the combination of citing fundamentalist Christianity and a Nazi scientist as a way of explaining to missile officers why launching nuclear weapons is ethical is a new low for the Air Force.
“Leave it to the United States Air Force to find a way to dictate the ‘ethical’ value of nuclear war and it’s inevitable role in the ‘natural order’ of humanity’s existence, to its missile launch officer trainees by merging unadulterated, fundamentalist Christian end times Armageddon doctrines with the tortured ‘people who are guided by the bible endorsements of a former, leading Nazi SS official,” Weinstein said.
Title: Air Force Cites New Testament, Ex-Nazi, to Train Officers on Ethics of Launching Nuclear Weapons
Publication: Truthout, July 27th 2011
Author: Jason Leopold
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University
Student Researcher: Taylor Falbisaner, Sonoma State University
Update: July 29, 2011 The Air Force, in response to an this report published by Truthout has withdrawn materials used in a training session that relied upon Bible passages and a quote from an ex-Nazi SS officer to teach missile officers about the morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons.