- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Potomac Books (March 4, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1574888625
- ISBN-13: 978-1574888621
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 219 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
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"A powerful, persuasive analysis of the terrorist threat and the Bush Administration's failed efforts to fight it . . . [The author's] criticism is damning. . . . Imperial Hubris is an important contribution to a necessary debate. . . ."
"Rare is the book that can change the course of an international debate, but Imperial Hubris is just such a book."
"This book is so valuable, it hardly seems that any review could do it justice. . . . All those concerned with our national security would do well to take up this book. We cannot know the many services the author has rendered to our country in his intelligence role, but I suspect that Imperial Hubris--a work of supreme integrity--may be his greatest contribution of all.
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"[The author’s] conclusions are as disquieting as his policy prescriptions are compelling. . . . Imperial Hubris is destined to become a classic in the field of counterterrorism analysis."
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First and foremost he, along with several others in the field, makes it clear that al Qaeda and bin Laden do not wish to destroy us for what we are, our freedom and our democracy, but rather for what we do to them with our actions and sometimes ill conceived foreign policy. Certainly in the past we have propped up corrupt and repressive regimes for the sake of security in the area and for the continued flow of cheap oil. It is his position that we should reexamine our support of several counties in the Gulf region and elsewhere, including our seemingly endless support for Israel. One suspects that this last contention is a large reason why the author remains anonymous.
His seeing our actions (foreign policy) as the cause and driving force for Muslim hatred appears in part correct but undoubtedly many also dislike us for how we live. Our life style conveniently fits with bin Laden's demonizing of the west. The author carefully builds a convincing case that Osama is driven by the Muslims' loving relationship with his God, that he and every Muslim is commanded by the words of The Profit to fight those attacking his faith, brethren and territory. We are seen as occupiers stealing the wealth of their lands and corrupting their faith and they have a responsibility as Muslims to destroy us. Not looking at the role of religion in considering the actions of bin Laden and al Qaeda is a major flaw in Anonymous' opinion. He also argues correctly the ending of our dependency on foreign oil must be a national priority.
He also firmly believes that the American people should be made aware in the strongest possible terms that we are at war; not a war in some remote area but here, in America, and that the Islamist mean to kill us, everyone of us. If we fail to understand that, our enemy certainly will drive that point home for us. They have repeatedly warned that the next attack will be larger, much larger, than 911. In fact, under Muslim law, Osama has now met all the proscribed requirements (warning, offered conversion to Islam, and obtain religious approval) for his using WMDs on our country. This quote from bin Laden's late mentor, Shaykh Abdullah Azzam is instructive in this regard:
"History does not write its lines except in blood. Glory does not build its lofty edifices except with skulls. Honour and respect cannot be established except on a foundation of cripples and corpses.... Indeed those who think they can change reality, or change societies, without blood sacrifices and wounds, without pure innocent souls, do not understand the essence of our religion."
The time for the west to take them at their word is long overdue.
I could take issue with some of the remarks about the start of the war with Afghanistan (we did in fact have significant Pashtun allies, Karzi and Sharzai come to mind) but his noting that we had no plan to take out al Qaeda after years of warnings is absolutely correct. This is unforgivable given the previous al Qaeda attacks here and abroad. Were it not for Lt. Col. Dave Miller of the U.S. Special Operations Command, we would have absolutely been at square one. (See, "The Hunt For Bin Laden", Robin Moore, at 17.)
This is a fine well-researched work but its main shortcoming is a rather cockeyed belief that if we leave Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Muslim world, all will be well. Bin Laden, he claims, is only waging a "defensive jihad" of the Islamic lands. (What about Spain, let's say?) Yet he goes on later in the book to undermine his assumption by quoting their warnings to us to convert to Islam and that if we don't, the Koran approves of the used of WMDs. He builds the case that they will, in time, be used against us.
In short, he gives a good analysis of the problem but overlooks an essential element of this war: it is not ours to end by leaving.
But in spite of that, it's a damn fine book, albeit, scary as hell.
One reason he can use open source (e.g. unclassified documents availible to anyone with a computer and internet) is that he knows what can and what cannot be true. I hope the Obama White House is reading Scheuer and formulating a new "why" regarding what a strategy for Afghanistan should look like. Hint: we're doing it wrong.
That said, I enthusiastically recommend this book to anybody with enough free brain cells to deal with the disturbing views this angry messenger brings. Like him or not, he's very well-educated, intelligent, original, unconstrained by Political Correctness, and unafraid to offer shockingly bold alternatives. (If he sometimes writes like a Jihadi syncophant, wait till you read his proposals for fighting them!) He's mostly focused on revealing the unsweetened truths that lie beneath saccharine worldview promoted by TV jounalism and our State Dept. He wants us to see this conflict as our enemy does. And that perspective is a lot further from ours than most of us realize. Since I finished the book several months ago, hardly a day of news has passed that has not confirmed the author's views and revealed the casual--almost willful--ignorance of the Bush administration. (Just recently, "W" implied on Pakistani soil that Pakistanis are arabs.)
For instance, the idea that the West desires to extinguish Islam may be preposterous to westerners, but according to Mike Scheuer it's nearly universally believed by Muslims. The endless rioting and calls for global revenge over the Muhammad cartoons are only the latest demonstration of this unshakeable conviction. (This makes a pessimistic kind of logic: In Islamic culture the study of psychology is an inherently blasphemous challenge to the Will of Allah, and a mind steeped in tribalism is even less likely to consider others' perspectives.)
The author's numerous theses are listed in many excellent reviews already. I won't repeat them. I offer the undecided buyer this advice: this book won't make you comfortable or happy--even if you're thick-skinned enough to endure an often irritating author and courageous enough to confront unpleasant realities head-on. But it will definitely make you smarter--even if you disagree with every word. And it will give you a very good nose for evaluating the next public statement you hear about the Middle East.