Nidal Hasan

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It looks increasingly as if he snapped at the thought of participating in a war he might have seen as anti-Islam. This, if borne out, is grim news:

"He was making outlandish comments condemning our foreign policy and claimed Muslims had the right to rise up and attack Americans," Col Lee told Fox News. "He said Muslims should stand up and fight the aggressor and that we should not be in the war in the first place." He said that Maj Hasan said he was "happy" when a US soldier was killed in an attack on a military recruitment centre in Arkansas in June.

An American convert to Islam was accused of the shootings. Col Lee alleged that other officers had told him that Maj Hasan had said "maybe people should strap bombs on themselves and go to Time Square" in New York. He claimed he was aware that the major had been subject to "name calling" during heated arguments with other officers.

It's therefore hard to see any silver lining here. It's a tragic massacre in the first place. It will doubtless increase suspicion of Muslim servicemembers, which in turn propels more religious polarization, which makes winning this war harder still. You can instantly see how the Malkins will spin this, and how a war on American Muslims can get jump-started in America.

The danger of this war on terror, it turns out, is that it not only collapses when it hits the ground in Muslim countries - as the sheer impossibility of using force to control Islamism in Iraq and Afghanistan reveals itself - but that its religious nature can divide the West as well, rendering a minority suspect and further undermining the chances of a multi-faith democracy successfully fighting a religious war without succumbing to more primal identities. Every which way, Osama wins.

The news is pretty depressing right now; but few events have been as demoralizing as this one.

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