Monday, July 19

The War on Terror

An interesting piece in USA Today about the new book 'Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror'. It's by an anonymous CIA terrorism expert. You really should just read the whole thing, but I'll ty to highlight a few items:
The United States has the important questions about Osama bin Laden wrong...Why he's fighting the West, why he's trying to undermine Arab rulers, why he's embraced by millions of Muslims... And that mistake dooms the U.S. to endless wars...While the White House says radical Islamists hate the United States for its values and our freedoms, the reality is very different...Islamists despise our policies in the Middle East. That misunderstanding lures the United States into strategies that benefit al-Qaeda more than the U.S.
The author argues that if we're really going to fight these terrorists effectively, we will have to be ruthless. 'When we have the opportunity to hit someone, we have to be willing to do it without evidence that could be presented in court.'

Q: In a recent report, the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously criticized the quality of intelligence that led to the decision to attack Iraq. What might fix that problem?

A: The president should have the opportunity to talk to a substantive expert. And that is not the case.
I don't think that's the main issue. We have the best signal intelligence gathering capabilities in the history of the world. It's not like Iraq was a secure country, either, from the standpoint of human intelligence. More than access to experts, it's obvious to me that the intelligence was misinterpreted, including the drawing of conculsions based on too little data. I think President Bush had his mind set on regime change in Iraq and he pressured some of the interpretation, both in the US and globally (especially the UK).

Six U.S. policies enable Osama bin Laden to rally his followers against the U.S.
Support for Israel that allows the Israelis to dominate the Palestinians.
U.S., Western troops on the Arabian Peninsula.
Occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Support for Russia, India and China against the Muslim militants there.
Pressure on Arab energy producers to keep oil prices low.
U.S. support for corrupt Muslim governments.
The author says 'Frankly, I don't know what else the Israelis can do than what they are doing, but the perception in the Muslim world is that we are no longer playing any kind of moderating role there.' I don't disagree. I think the Israelis could do more on the issue of settlements. On the other hand, it seems clear to me that the Palestinian Authority, and especially Arafat, are not acting in good faith.

Re: the second and third bullet points, I think a greater US military presence in the Middle East has been one of the goals of this operation from the start. Steven den Beste's been writing about it for a long time.

Re: the fifth bullet point, I often write about the problem with our addiction to oil.

And the sixth bullet point isn't pretty, either. Saudi Arabia leaps most readily to mind. And I just heard colloquially on Saturday about the corruption in Jordan.
The director of intelligence and the president say al-Qaeda represents the lunatic fringe of the Muslim world, which, on the face of it, is absurd. But there is no one talking about Islam as a motivating factor for war... We do a lot of analysis by assertion rather than by reality.
I've been saying many of the things is this article for a long time: that our foreign policy brings some amount of terrorism on us [9-11 post 9-14 post], that our unconditional support of Israel is a problem [1st of many], that al-Qaeda is not the lunatic fringe of the Muslim world [1st of 3 consecutive days of posts]. Being right, in this case, is not very comforting.
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