ABSTRACT

Strategic Implication of American Millennialism   [open pdf - 378KB]

From the thesis abstract: "Since the beginning of the Republic, various forms of millennial religious doctrines, of which dispensational pre-millennialism is the most recent, have shaped U.S. national security strategy. As the dominant form of millennialism in the U.S. evolves, it drives changes in U.S. security policy and subsequent commitment of the instruments of national power. Millennial ideas contribute to a common American understanding of international relations that guide our thinking irrespective of individual religious or political affiliation. Millennialism has great explanatory value, significant policy implications, and creates potential vulnerabilities that adversaries may exploit. In the simplest usage of the word, millennialism refers to any belief system, religious or secular, which anticipates a purification of society or the world through dramatic and sweeping change. In the U.S. today, the most well-known and influential form of millennialism is a religious variant known in formal, theological parlance as dispensational pre-millennialism. This contemporary form of millennialism took shape during the 1970s and has significantly shaped current U.S. security policy. Dispensational pre-millennialism is loosely based on depictions of battle between the forces of good and evil in the biblical Book of Revelation. In the U.S., dispensational pre-millennialism contends that in the very near future Jesus Christ will 'rapture,' or remove his church from the Earth. A period of intense tribulations and battles will follow, culminating with a cataclysmic defeat of Satan. Jesus would then establish an earthly kingdom for 1,000 years -- the millennium. Today, the theological doctrines of dispensational pre-millennialism contribute significantly to American culture. This has resulted in a pervasive sense of determinism and pessimism that has significant implications for U.S. security policy around the world. Military leaders, planners and strategists require greater understanding of American millennial thought. Millennialism shapes both American culture and U.S. government policy. While most Americans are influenced to some degree by the ideas of pre-millennialism, many are unaware of the philosophical or theological underpinnings. Military leaders charged with interpreting policy into strategy and acting on behalf of the nation on the international stage cannot afford to remain ignorant of the effects of pre-millennialism. Due to a general lack of awareness of millennialism and an uneasy reticence to discuss religious factors, understanding and analysis of our own policies and motives is often deficient. Additionally, the cultural imprint that derives from millennialism impairs our understanding of the words, actions and motives of other actors on the world stage. These factors can be problematic for any military leader or planner attempting to achieve U.S. Government policy objectives through strategy, operations and programs."

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2008-05-22
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Public Domain
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Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library: http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/
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application/pdf
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