Gotta love that war on terror

This book review is a must-read.

“We are losing.

“Four years and two wars after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, America is heading for a repeat of the events of that day, or perhaps something worse. Against our most dangerous foe, our strategic position is weakening.”

So begins Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon’s sobering new book, “The Next Attack.” The authors, two of President Bill Clinton’s counterterrorism aides, draw a persuasive and utterly frightening picture of the current state of America’s war on terror.

They see more and more Muslims, many of whom had no earlier ties to radical organizations, enlisting in the struggle against the West, and they also point out the proliferation of freelance terrorists, self-starters without any formal ties to Al Qaeda or other organized groups. They see local and regional grievances (in places like Saudi Arabia, Chechnya and Southeast Asia) merging into “a pervasive hatred of the United States, its allies, and the international order they uphold.” And they see in the Muslim world traditional social and religious inhibitions against violence and even against the use of weapons of mass destruction weakening as a growing number of radical clerics assume positions of influence.

Like the C.I.A. officer Michael Scheuer, the author (under the pseudonym “Anonymous”) of the 2004 book “Imperial Hubris,” Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Simon regard the American invasion of Iraq as a kind of Christmas present to Osama bin Laden: an unnecessary and ill-judged war of choice that has not only become a recruitment tool for jihadis but that has also affirmed the story line that Al Qaeda leaders have been telling the Muslim world – that America is waging war against Islam and seeking to occupy oil-rich Muslim countries.

The American invasion of Iraq toppled one of the Mideast’s secular dictatorships, the authors write, and produced a country in chaos, a country that could well become what Afghanistan was during the years of Soviet occupation: a magnet for jihadis and would-be jihadis from around the world; a “country-sized training ground” (with an almost limitless supply of arms), where these recruits can train and network before returning home, battle-hardened and further radicalized. The authors add that “the sad irony” of the war is that Iraq now stands as an argument against democratization for many in the Middle East: “the current chaos there confirms the fears of both the rulers and the ruled in the authoritarian states of the region that sudden political change is bound to let slip the dogs of civil war.”

This is serious stuff. It’s time to get real and see this war for what it is, an ill-conceived losing venture, as brilliantly conceived as the nomination of Harriet Miers or the appointment of Mike Brown. This isn’t a matter of hating or liking Bush, but simply a matter of assessing what the situation is: are we winning or losing? Is terrorsim being wiped out or has it been newly energized? Do more people now love us or hate us? Did the deaths of our soldiers and scores of thousands of innocent Iraqis result in a payoff making it all worthwhile? Are we now safer? Read the whole review if you really want to know the answers.

The Discussion: 4 Comments

9/11 happened, in the bluntest terms, because people hated America and wanted to see it suffer.

Today, hatred for America is many times higher than it was in 2001 and has spread to a great many people who were neutral before.

All the war on terror has done is to fan these flames.

November 4, 2005 @ 2:11 am | Comment

Also interesting, I’ve been reading Anthony Shadeed’s “Night Draws Near: Iraq’s people in the shadow of America’s war”, which does a marvellous job of humanizing regular Iraqi civilians in a way few TV news reports or newspaper articles do. Not far in, but finding it fascinating so far.

November 4, 2005 @ 4:22 am | Comment

The Iraq war critic’s greatest failure is they forget to mention that a whopping 79% of Iraqi’s “VOTED FOR” the new constitution.

November 4, 2005 @ 10:13 am | Comment

are we winning or losing? We and the Iraqi people who support a free Iraq are winning.
Is terrorsim being wiped out or has it been newly energized? It’s being wiped out, but, sadly, not in Paris… Do more people now love us or hate us? Those on the wrong side hate us. Did the deaths of our soldiers and scores of thousands of innocent Iraqis result in a payoff making it all worthwhile? The cause if worthwhile if it is preventing terrorists on U.S. soil. Are we now safer? yes

November 6, 2005 @ 9:28 am | Comment

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