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Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq Hardcover – February 12, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Scheuer, former CIA analyst and trenchant critic of U.S. terrorism policies (Imperial Hubris) develops his argument that America suffers from a collective insistence on sustaining Cold War paradigms in a fundamentally altered world. For all its culpable errors, the current administration is merely the present-day incorporation of willful historical ignorance, a paucity of common sense, and... a disastrous degree of intellectual hubris. These fundamental shortcomings are exacerbated by a pattern of making policy decisions on the basis of how a liberal-pacifist media and intelligentsia will react, rather than objectively considering the national interest. That interest, Scheuer argues, requires prioritizing the Islamic threat in security considerations and understanding that it does not manifest intractable, theologically based hostility to American values and lifestyles. The Islamic challenge instead reflects a series of concrete U.S. policy decisions, beginning in 1973, committing the U.S. to supporting an endless war to the death between Arabs and Israelis. An increasingly desperate effort to sustain a fundamental regional imbalance—and Scheuer does not spare the Clinton administration—has led to direct military involvement, culminating in the debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan. These defeats, Scheuer declares, are the inevitable result of seeking to change the Middle East's dynamics by exporting the unique American patterns of democracy and republicanism. Controversial in its details, Scheuer's analysis suffers fundamentally from Occidentalism. Interpreting Islamic behavior as a consequence of American actions keeps the U.S. at the center of events in precisely the Cold War model Scheuer excoriates. (Feb. 12)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Michael Scheuer is a twenty-plus-year CIA veteran. From 1996 to 1999, he

served as the Chief of the bin Laden unit (aka Alec Station), the Osama bin

Laden tracking unit at the Counterterrorism Center. He then worked as Special

Adviser to the Chief of the bin Laden unit from September 2001 to November 2004.

He resigned from the CIA in 2004. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of

Security Studies at Georgetown University and a Senior Fellow at the Jamestown

Foundation, writing regularly for its online publication Global Terrorism

Analysis. He lives in Virginia with his wife and two children.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (February 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743299698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743299695
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,110,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Afia TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Michael Scheuer, PhD and former CIA career officer, made a big splash in June 2004 as the anonymous author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. At that time he contradicted Rumsfeld and other officials by informing us there was an insurgency in Iraq.

Now Scheuer tells us where we're going. We're going to hell.

Marching Toward Hell claims that U.S. foreign policy is often based on some faulty assumptions and is partially driven by some lobbyists whose interests are different than those of the American people. This book goes well beyond the themes of Imperial Hubris.

Dr. Scheuer's book merits 5 stars. He gives the perspective of an intelligence analyst. He's also superb at explaining the complicated relationship between the intelligence community and elected officials in the U.S.

Scholars take Scheuer seriously because of his 22-year career as a top intelligence analyst and also the success of his first book, Imperial Hubris. He studied Osama bin Laden (ObL) for years and urged superiors to remove ObL no less than 10 times when the opportunity arose.

ObL has recommended Scheuer's book, Imperial Hubris, to the American people in a taunting missive. Marching Toward Hell strikes back with recommendations aimed at helping the American people to wise up to what looks to be a very long-term problem.

According to Scheuer, U.S. policymakers still prefer to present the bin Laden Movement as a lunatic fringe even though in some sense it has broad appeal in the Islamic world.

As if that wasn't disturbing enough, Scheuer says that some officials possibly never intended to win in Iraq. Otherwise, more troops would have been sent.
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Format: Hardcover
Well, Michael Scheuer certainly doesn't pull his punches. As a former CIA officer, he was in a position to know a lot more than most people about what was going on before and after 9/11, in the Middle East and in Washington and Langley. He also reads widely in world history and politics (A favorite author is Machiavelli). His verdict, delivered with a pen often dipped in acid, is discouraging. Basically, he finds all our recent presidents failing their prime duty to (a) understand reality in foreign affairs (b) focus completely on what serves America's interests and ignore anything else. The wellbeing of other states, for instance Israel, is not our concern, and we certainly have no role in trying to export our political system to other countries.

His diagnosis of our current troubles is clearly accurate. I've always been astonished that Bush could get away with claiming that Muslim activists hate us because they don't like out freedom or social structure. As Scheuer points out, they have made it perfectly clear that are not really interested in what kind of society the infidels choose to live in - in fact they are somewhat ambivalent about it, liking some aspects but considering it decadent - but they are infuriated by the presence of non Muslim troops in their own countries. They also feel their oil has been sold off cheaply and the profits have benefited only rich, decadent and corrupt rulers like the House of Saud. And of course there is the one-sided US support of Israel.

However, his prescription is one that many will find far off track. He has a good analysis of some of our military problems as being related to the hangover of a "Cold War" mentality - hostility between well-defined, technically advanced, nation-states, and how this does not fit the Middle East.
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Format: Hardcover
Scheurer's CIA career and innate intellect combine in "Marching Toward Hell" to create an outstanding and very timely book. He begins by pointing out that our bipartisan governing elite has an unquenchable ardor to have the U.S. intervene abroad in all places. Some prefer diplomatic, others military, humanitarian, covert, and/or foreign aid mixed with Christian proselytizing. The result is that we live in a prolonged Cold War hangover that creates more problems than it solves.

Scheuer's intent in the book is to reconstruct how the U.S. found itself with an untenable set of foreign policies and national security strategies on 9/11, and to explain the costs of trying to maintain them.

U.S. ties to Israel, a state that contributes nothing to America's economic welfare or strategic security, are absurd, per Scheuer. Responding to those claiming Israel has a "right to exist," he states that Darwin's "survival of the fittest" applies; further, "Are we to also resuscitate the USSR, Sparta, etc.?" "You form your country, and you take your chances."

The second major nonsensical decision that burdens America is our doing little in response to the '73 oil embargo. Thus, we have ended up playing both sides (Israel vs. the Arab states) in a religious fight-to-the-finish.

American policies are further undermined by human rights groups - eg. they pushed the Senate to pursue human rights for Afghan women instead of us being able to try to get the Taliban to turn over Bin Laden. Other secondary issues have stayed our hand numerous times - eg. blowing up Iraq's Intelligence Service headquarters at night (minimize casualties) in response to its effort to assassinate Bush I in Kuwait, and calling off multiple efforts to kill Bin Laden.
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