Friday, November 12, 2004

The CIA author of Imperial Hubris is formally out of the closet. Micheal Scheuer, former chief of the CIA's Bin Laden task force has resigned in order to speak publicly on the War on Terror, which he believes the United States is steadily losing.

I've read Imperial Hubris but I have not gotten around to writing a detailed review yet. Reader's Digest version, if you keep in mind the Scheuer has a " Forest-Trees" problem with context and he is too close to his subject - evincing the same grudging admiration for Bin Laden and Arab-Ialamic culture that plagued John Toland's WWII books - Imperial Hubris can be a valuable book. Scheuer has a large number of pointed insights about both al Qaida and the dysfunctionality of the IC that bear repeating. Foremost among these is his identification of al Qaida as merely the spear tip of a global Islamist insurgency. I'm convinced he is quite correct on that score as well as on his numerous observations on al Qaida's operational capabilities and structure.

Where Scheuer fails is as a grand strategist. The fact that pan-Arab nationalists and radical sharia state Islamists are unhappy with American pursuit of American interests is a truism. It is also a poor justification for either capitulation or doing to the Arab-Islamic world what Rome did to Carthage, the dichotomy Scheuer sees as our alternatives. Where Scheuer can contribute to the debate is elevating the public sense of urgency of dealing with al Qaida and a better understanding how it operates, recruits, infiltrates and attacks.

Speaking of Scheuer, today his take on Osama bin Laden and nuclear weapons:

"Even if bin Laden had a nuclear weapon, he probably wouldn't have used it for a lack of proper religious authority - authority he has now. "[Bin Laden] secured from a Saudi sheik...a rather long treatise on the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the Americans," says Scheuer. "[The treatise] found that he was perfectly within his rights to use them. Muslims argue that the United States is responsible for millions of dead Muslims around the world, so reciprocity would mean you could kill millions of Americans,"

Scheuer tells Kroft.Scheuer says bin Laden was criticized by some Muslims for the 9/11 attack because he killed so many people without enough warning and before offering to help convert them to Islam. But now bin Laden has addressed the American people and given fair warning. "They're intention is to end the war as soon as they can and to ratchet up the pain for the Americans until we get out of their region....If they acquire the weapon, they will use it, whether it's chemical, biological or some sort of nuclear weapon," says Scheuer"

Were al Qaida to detonate a nuclear weapon of any size - perhaps even a significant biological weapon - I have no doubt the United States would retaliate with a nuclear attack across the Arab-Islamic world from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan. Mecca and Medina, Qom and Teheran would cease to exist within hours of a nuclear strike within the United States. Anyone who doubts this certainty seriously underestimates the magnitude of the political reality of, say, losing Manhattan. For two buildings we invaded two nations. For a city we will destroy a civilization.

If, by chance, the President of the United States were to be killed in such an attack, the U.S. military would be left on automatic pilot, relying on Cold War era and 1990's " worst-case scenario" contingency plans for nuclear war and our retaliation would most likely to be massive rather than selective. The Islamic world would end as a coherent entity for all time.

If the zealots of al Qaida do not understand this it should be made clear to their more reasonable supporters in KSA and Pakistan that they and hundreds of millions of Muslims will bear the price for such an attack.

I sincerely hope Scheuer is reporting nothing but empty Islamist bluster over the web but if he's not, this is the direction that kind of event would take.
I don't think your analysis of the political situation is correct. If we woke up tomorrow and Manhattan or D.C. was a mushroom cloud, there is little chance of an all out nuclear retaliation from the U.S. against the "islamic" world. President Bush (unfortunately from my perspective) is a Christian and his world view would not allow him to order attacks against a "civilization." There would be much hand wringing and debate and, to be sure, there may be attacks against Iranian and Pakistani military facilities. However, my view is the response would be quite limited.

I would agree that a response with George Bush alive would be very different and more limited from one with Bush dead.

If Bush is dead and his recognized successor is not *immediately* available within a very narrow frame of time then established warplans kick-in with prearanged nuclear launch authority - whatever the designated plans are at this time is currently secret, unlike during the MAD era where we were quite emphatic to the Soviets what would happen if they launched a first-strike.
I found MS's first book, Through our Enemies Eyes, more valuable/insightful and more informative.

His second book, appeared to be somewhat more politically motivated.

Perhaps I am a naive optimist, but I trust this scenario will not ever come to pass.

Despite US military action in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it appears that a number of UBL's grievances [as layed out by MS] are slowly being resolved [albeit, probably not in manner conceived by UBL and his followers]:

1) Economic embargo and isolation [of Iraq] by US.

Current Status: Issue no longer applicable.

2) US preference towards Israel at the expense of the Palestinians.

Current Status: Window of opportunity post Arafat era; US poised to re-engage with the "roadmap."

3) US support of an apostate regime with presence of military force on "sacred" ground.

Current Status: In process - democratic "pressures" to have open elections, which of course will like affect their policy towards our presence.

In the greater context, it appears that the US is strategically addressing festering issues that have long been preventing ME state connectivity [to the rest of the Core] and, with it, the environment that breeds radicalism.

With recent public denouncements of terrorism/insurgency in the new Iraq by ME ministers, it suggests to me that there are members of these "dis-connected" states that actually "get it" ...And may [at least initially] quietly support our democratization efforts in both Iraq/Afghanistan.

This alone, I believe, will be seen as a remarkable turning point in our collective history.

I actually haven't read the 9/11 commission report and wish to stay focused on the big picture, but notwithstanding the inevitable changes facing our country's operating structures, I believe that only way to truly eliminate the potential of such future threats is change the realities that would lead to such actions.

The US is currently involved in doing just that.

At the risk of being repetitive, I believe the authorative work on this subject is TB's PNM.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Zenpundit - a NEWSMAGAZINE and JOURNAL of scholarly opinion.

My Photo
Location: Chicago, United States

" The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances as though they were realities" -- Machiavelli

Determined Designs Web Solutions Lijit Search
02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 / 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 / 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 / 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 / 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 / 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 / 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 / 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 / 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 /

follow zenpundit at http://twitter.com
This plugin requires Adobe Flash 9.
Get this widget!
Sphere Featured Blogs Powered by Blogger StatisfyZenpundit

Site Feed Who Links Here
Buzztracker daily image Blogroll Me!