Sunday, March 08, 2009

For your consideration: Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq by Michael Scheuer

"When U.S. power is projected after the next attack by al-Qaeda inside the United States, the best way to honor the attack's casualties will be a military response that obliterates something that is prized by the enemy-not an improvised bier of flowers, silly placards, whining prayers, and flickering candles. America today would be a far more credible military power and a far safer place if, instead of endless, puerile bickering over what sort of monument should be built at the site of the World Trade Center, we had fire-bombed Kabul and Khandahar, demolished whatever ruins were left, and sown salt over the length and witch of both sites. That would have been a proper monument to the dead of 9/11, and one that would have made their surviving countrymen safer"

[This is the follow up book to Scheuer's Imperial Hubris and to say it's hawkish would be like calling Josef Stalin strict. To me the most interesting aspect of the book is that it's not really driven by Republican or Democrat politics. It's simply written from an America-First academic whose skills and world view were shaped by 22 years in the CIA as an analyst. Scheuer was the head of the bin-Laden desk at CIA until 1999 and recounts with as much specificity as is allowed the 12 times from 1998 to 1999 that his co-workers presented the military with opportunities to kill bin-Laden only to be denied by the Clinton Administration at every turn. The Bush Administration gets just as much derision though for its failure not only to wipe out the Taleban, and most of al-Qaeda's leadership in Tora Bora Afghanistan in 2001, but also for taking us to Iraq with the goal of occupation. Whether you agree with the author or not, his ideas are always worth thinking about. He is one of the authors of the much maligned CIA rendition program, and in favor of greatly diminishing our ties with Israel. I would recommend this book mostly because we are about to pump up the jam in Afghanistan. We will have about 50,000 troops there to try and accomplish something the Soviets couldn't do with 150,000. ]

1 comment:

Ron said...

I have heard from three very high ranking government officials (a former 2-star general heavily involved in both Afghanistan and Iraq and two former members of the U.S. Senate, 1 Dem and 1 GOP) that the reason things went pear-shaped after 2001 was Don Rumsfeld. From 2001-02 the army was making headway in Afghanistan using small civil affairs teams to go into villages and allocate necessary resources. 60 Minutes did a profile of these guys....four rangers would go into a hamlet and if they needed a water pump or a supply of some necessity, they would procure it. It was a one village at a time rebuilding effort to restore a degree of civilization and replace the Taliban. Then, the attention was focused to Iraq and the civil affairs teams were replaced with regular patrols. Rumsfeld was hugely responsible for the war strategy and, while he admittedly had support of President Bush, his vision for the military operation was flawed. The GOP member of the Senate said that the majority caucus wanted Rumsfeld out after 2004 and kept behind the scenes pushing. They thought things were going to turn around until the Golden Dome was blown up and the sectarian stuff pickd back up. That was too far into the 2006 election cycle for them to come out against Rummy, as they would be viewed just as political opportunists. When he resigned the day after the 2006 election, at least one GOP senator from the midwest had to be restrained from coming at him outside the Oval Office. This senator blamed Bush for sticking with him well past the point of his effectiveness.