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Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror

by Michael F. Scheuer

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865817,791 (3.63)6
Access a Comprehensive Bibliography Though U.S. leaders try to convince the world of their success in fighting al Qaeda, one member of the U.S. intelligence community would like to inform the public that we are, in fact, losing the war on terror. Further, until U.S. leaders recognize the errant path they have irresponsibly chosen, he says, our enemies will only grow stronger. According to the author Michael Scheuer, the greatest danger for Americans confronting the Islamist threat is to believe--at the urging of U.S. leaders--that Muslims attack us for what we are and what we think rather than for what we do. Blustering political rhetoric "informs" the public that the Islamists are offended by the Western world's democratic freedoms, civil liberties, inter-mingling of genders, and separation of church and state. However, although aspects of the modern world may offend conservative Muslims, no Islamist leader has fomented jihad to destroy participatory democracy, for example, the national association of credit unions, or coed universities. Instead, a growing segment of the Islamic world strenuously disapproves of specific U.S. policies and their attendant military, political, and economic implications. Capitalizing on growing anti-U.S. animosity, Osama bin Laden's genius lies not simply in calling for jihad, but in articulating a consistent and convincing case that Islam is under attack by America. Al Qaeda's public statements condemn America's protection of corrupt Muslim regimes, unqualified support for Israel, the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and a further litany of real-world grievances. Bin Laden's supporters thus identify their problem and believe their solution lies in war. Scheuer contends they will go to any length, not to destroy our secular, democratic way of life, but to deter what they view as specific attacks on their lands, their communities, and their religion. Unless U.S. leaders recognize this fact and adjust their policies abroad accordingly, even moderate Muslims will join the bin Laden camp.  … (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I read this at the beginning of 2005, which was a pretty good time given I read a good number of books. This was an interesting book. It discusses the issue with an emphasis on looking at it from Bin Laden's and the Middle East's point of view. It is clear that the author knows his material, which he presents in a thoughtful fashion with various examples to illustrate the arguments. He brings in history, political, cultural and other sources, many unclassified that anyone can read to show Bin Laden is not just a mere terrorist, but a competent leader of an Islamist insurgency. He also points out that Muslims hate the U.S. for its policies, not for their democracy, contrary to what every other demagogue or politician would have us think. Overall, an excellent book that more people should be reading to better understand the real nature of Al Qaeda's threat to the U.S. ( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
For all of it's clout, I frankly did not find this book very interesting or very convincing. Rather, it sounded like the author had a bone to pick with his former employers. ( )
  publiusdb | Aug 22, 2013 |
I actually read this sometime in 2003, but the image is still in my head (God how I hate penmanship lessons). At any rate this book provides an insightful look into the thought process of how the American mind looks at both itself and the world. ( )
  lafon | Mar 31, 2013 |
This book does many things well. Namely, an analysis of what the middle eastern wars really are, and what the nature of these wars is really like. All of this does much to show the difference between the world we live in and how it is marketed to us. Scheuer, however, is not able to give us a very good plan for what needs to be done about the problems he brings up. ( )
1 vote M.Campanella | Mar 30, 2009 |
The single most important work on terrorism written by the foremost tracker of Bin Laden who retired from the CIA. Scheuer critically points out that the West should not dismiss Bin Laden nor underestimate him. Scheuer's analysis is timely and right on the money. His description of Pakistan for example, although written in 2007, still very much applies and he predicted, correctly, that al Qaeda will be resilient.

His prose, although forceful, is clear. According to Scheuer Bin Laden has six reasons for targeting the United States: 1) American support of Israel against the Palestinians; 2) American troops occupying the Arabian penisula; 3) American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan; 4) American support of other nations particularly Russia, China and India in their oppression of Muslims; 5) American pressure on Arab states to keep oil prices artificially low (they are, in comparison with other countries); 6) and American support for apostate and tyrannical Muslim governments including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, among others.

In the early 1980s, a Palestinian ideologue named Abdullah Azzam (p. 76) was coordinating the jihad from Peshawar, near the Afghanistan border.

Azzam’s Peshawar center was known as the Afghan Bureau. His deputy and financier was a Saudi named Osama bin Laden.

Was the idealistic 19- or 20-year-old Barack Obama inquiring about the Afghanistan jihad?

There is a great deal to mull over in this work and Scheuer is a good example that qualified people at the analyst, and based on other evidence, in the field, levels continue to serve this country well. George Tenet, in his memoirs, remarks that Scheuer was six levels below him and therefore he did not heed Scheuer's warnings that Bin Laden, et. al., were becoming a much more significant threat. The failure of our leaders to heed the warnings by those at the operations and analyst levels led to the deaths of Americans.

Chechnya, pp. 12

"Chechnya is included to warn those in the West who believe the Islamist threat would dissipate if Bin Laden is captured or killed." Since 2002, after the Russians killed the leading Islamist Ibn-al-Khattab, the "pace and lethality" of attacks increased (p. 86).
  gmicksmith | Aug 9, 2008 |
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Access a Comprehensive Bibliography Though U.S. leaders try to convince the world of their success in fighting al Qaeda, one member of the U.S. intelligence community would like to inform the public that we are, in fact, losing the war on terror. Further, until U.S. leaders recognize the errant path they have irresponsibly chosen, he says, our enemies will only grow stronger. According to the author Michael Scheuer, the greatest danger for Americans confronting the Islamist threat is to believe--at the urging of U.S. leaders--that Muslims attack us for what we are and what we think rather than for what we do. Blustering political rhetoric "informs" the public that the Islamists are offended by the Western world's democratic freedoms, civil liberties, inter-mingling of genders, and separation of church and state. However, although aspects of the modern world may offend conservative Muslims, no Islamist leader has fomented jihad to destroy participatory democracy, for example, the national association of credit unions, or coed universities. Instead, a growing segment of the Islamic world strenuously disapproves of specific U.S. policies and their attendant military, political, and economic implications. Capitalizing on growing anti-U.S. animosity, Osama bin Laden's genius lies not simply in calling for jihad, but in articulating a consistent and convincing case that Islam is under attack by America. Al Qaeda's public statements condemn America's protection of corrupt Muslim regimes, unqualified support for Israel, the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and a further litany of real-world grievances. Bin Laden's supporters thus identify their problem and believe their solution lies in war. Scheuer contends they will go to any length, not to destroy our secular, democratic way of life, but to deter what they view as specific attacks on their lands, their communities, and their religion. Unless U.S. leaders recognize this fact and adjust their policies abroad accordingly, even moderate Muslims will join the bin Laden camp.  

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