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The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting it Right Paperback – July 25, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The chilling first words, "We are losing," capture the tone of this scathing evaluation of the Bush administration's responses to the September 11 attacks. Benjamin, a Center for Strategic and International Studies senior fellow, and Simon, an instructor at Georgetown University, authors of the award-winning Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam's War Against America, do not mince words; America's foreign policy vis-a-vis the Muslim world is bankrupt and has "cleared the way for the next attack-and those that will come after." By invading Iraq, the authors argue, the U.S. demonstrated a profound misunderstanding of the scope of the threat posed by al Qaeda and other jihadist groups, and has turned Iraq into a "country-sized training ground" for terrorists. The authors also explore terror's philosophical roots, analyzing how salafism, a strain of Islamic fundamentalism, dominates jihadist beliefs, as well as how the Internet helps facilitate global dissemination of its tenets, strategies and tactics. The authors' remedies for this baleful state of affairs include fostering an understanding that independent cell-based terrorist units, not state sponsors, are the backbone of the movement; dispensing with reflexive use of military solutions; improving links with foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies; and recognizing the limitations of democracy in solving developing nations' problems. Not a book that'll appeal to readers whose politics are right of center, it's nevertheless a sobering analysis of compromised American security.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Another terrorist attack on the U.S. is inevitable, according to analysts Simon and Benjamin. Based on interviews with current and former government officials, they warn that actions by the Bush administration are only energizing radical Islamist groups and paving the way for further terrorist attacks even as we squander resources in the war in Iraq. Despite unsubstantiated and overstated claims of success in apprehending al Qaeda members, the group remains elusive. And many self-started terrorist groups that have patterned themselves after al Qaeda have attacked targets from Madrid to London to Kuwait. With the aid of technology and the Internet, the threat to the U.S. has become more agile and mobile. Exploring the long history of Islamic tensions with the West, the authors note that jihadists applaud U.S. difficulties in occupying Iraq and the benefits to their recruitment efforts, as they compare the troubled U.S. occupation with that of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. This is a fascinating, though deeply troubling, look at the U.S. strategy against terrorism. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080508133X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805081336
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,441,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Frank Braconi on November 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Here in New York, where you could literally taste the World Trade Center in your mouth for weeks and it seemed everybody had a harrowing story to tell, I noticed that people adopted one of several strategies for coping with their shock and grief. Some bolted into action, working on relief, recovery or joining the Coast Guard. Others withdrew into the trivia of normal, everyday life. A third group, which included myself, grabbed everything they could read that might help them make sense of the incomprehensible.

Benjamin's and Simon's "The Age of Sacred Terror," which was published in 2002, was one of the first books to appear after 9/11 that offered a thorough explanation of the origins of Islamic terrorism and traced America's intensifying response to it. Balanced and studious, it showed how the attacks did not come from "out of the blue," but from the depths of religious zealotry and historical grievance. It provided some comfort; the world may be crueler than you thought but at least it still followed the same logic of resentment, bigotry and violence.

"The Next Attack" is not comforting even in that limited sense. It is a shout of alarm and a warning. The authors can barely contain their anger at the Bush Administration for its marginalization of the government's intelligence bureaucracy and its consequent misconceptualization of the jihadist threat. To their credit, however, they do not descend into pure polemic and their arguments are well documented with 437 end notes. Their careful evaluation of some claims and counter-claims, such as the President's statement that "75 percent of known al Qaeda leaders have been brought to justice," is particularly appreciated by this reader.
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95 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am very surprised to not see other reviews of this book. While it lacks the intimate detail and the passion of Richard Clarke's book, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, it is the first book I have found in the years since 9/11 that satisfactorily reviews the bidding, provides a polite but hard-hitting critique of all we are doing wrong, and ends with reasonable recommendations for future action--recommendations that will most certainly not be adopted by the current Administration.

Most gripping, on page 159 of the book, is a quote from a TIME article in 2003 that I missed back then, but that today I find compelling--a quote that likens Al Qaeda and its off-shoots not to a snake, the analogy popular with the Administration, but to mold--toxic mold one might add.

The authors are to be commended for both their recognition that it is disruption, not destruction, that will cause the most pain to the West; and that most of our wounds are self-inflicted.

"Intelligence" qua spies and secrecy and espionage does not play in this book. Indeed, in a footnote, the authors wonder if future adversaries will have any respect at all for U.S. intelligence, and with good reason. The irrelevance of secret intelligence to this larger conflict lends added weight to the common-sense open source information observations of the authors. [My own first book,
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on December 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
We are losing" - the first sentence in "The Next Attack." Inspired by Osama's boldness and outraged by America's actions, more Muslims are joining the terrorist movement. Meanwhile, the U.S., instead of taking a comprehensive view of radical Islam, uses only two indicators to show progress - the number of days since 9/11 without a catastrophic attack, and the number of terrorists captured or killed. Benjamin and Simon also believe that in destroying one of the most hated secular dictatorships that jihadists had been unable to dent, the U.S. has created an open field for radicals to raise havoc and provided them with Americans in close proximity for targets.

U.S. attacks in Afghanistan did serious damage to Al Qaeda - aided by the Taliban's straight-line trenches and high-tech weapons. On the other hand, Osama's ability to elude capture for a period longer than U.S. involvement in WWII has enhanced his image. Regardless, we now have the phenomena of "self-starting" groups that include highly educated Muslims capable of highly sophisticated acts (eg. the Madrid and London train bombings).

While it is impossible to provide credible estimates of the number of foreign fighters in Iraq, an Israeli's analysis of 154 foreigners who died in Iraq concluded that the vast majority had never taken part previously in violence. At the same time, a British bomb expert employed as a consultant notes that terrorist progress in Iraq has been rapid - a result of the pooling of experience from around the region (and the Internet).

The number of terrorist (mostly Muslim) Internet sites has risen from 12 in '98 to about 4,400. Uses include dispensing "how-to" information, showing evidence of recent acts (eg. IEDs exploding, beheadings) and fatwahs, and serving as recruitment tools.
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