Six Questions for Michael Scheuer on National SecurityPosted on Wednesday, August 23, 2006. By Ken Silverstein.
Michael Scheuer served in the CIA for 22 years before resigning in 2004; he served as the chief of the bin Laden unit at the Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999. He is the formerly anonymous author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America. I met him for breakfast last week at an IHOP in the Virginia suburbs outside of Washington. Over a plate of eggs and hash browns, he answered a series of questions about the current state of the Bush Administration’s “War on Terrorism.” His prognosis was illuminating and insightful—and, unfortunately, almost unrelentingly grim.
1. We're coming up on the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Is the country safer or more vulnerable to terrorism?
On balance, more vulnerable. We're safer in terms of aircraft travel. We're safer from being attacked by some dumbhead who tries to come into the country through an official checkpoint; we've spent billions on that. But for the most part our victories have been tactical and not strategic. There have been important successes by the intelligence services and Special Forces in capturing and killing Al Qaeda militants, but in the long run that's just a body count, not progress. We can't capture them one by one and bring them to justice. There are too many of them, and more now than before September 11. In official Western rhetoric these are finite organizations, but every time we interfere in Muslim countries they get more support.
In the long run, we're not safer because we're still operating on the assumption that we're hated because of our freedoms, when in fact we're hated because of our actions in the Islamic world. There's our military presence in Islamic countries, the perception that we control the Muslim world’s oil production, our support for Israel and for countries that oppress Muslims such as China, Russia, and India, and our own support for Arab tyrannies. The deal we made with Qadaffi in Libya looks like hypocrisy: we'll make peace with a brutal dictator if it gets us oil...
7. And finally, an extra question—what needs to be done?
This may be a country bumpkin approach, but the truth is the best place to start. We need to acknowledge that we are at war, not because of who we are, but because of what we do. We are confronting a jihad that is inspired by the tangible and visible impact of our policies. People are willing to die for that, and we're not going to win by killing them off one by one. We have a dozen years of reliable polling in the Middle East, and it shows overwhelming hostility to our policies—and at the same time it shows majorities that admire the way we live, our ability to feed and clothe our children and find work. We need to tell the truth to set the stage for a discussion of our foreign policy.
At the core of the debate is oil. As long as we and our allies are dependent on Gulf oil, we can't do anything about the perception that we support Arab tyranny—the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, and other regimes in the region. Without the problem of oil, who cares who rules Saudi Arabia? If we solved the oil problem, we could back away from the contradiction of being democracy promoters and tyranny protectors. We should have started on this back in 1973, at the time of the first Arab oil embargo, but we've never moved away from our dependence. As it stands, we are going to have to fight wars if anything endangers the oil supply in the Middle East.
What you want with foreign policy is options. Right now we don't have options because our economy and our allies' economies are dependent on Middle East oil. What benefit do we get by letting China commit genocide-by-inundation by moving thousands and thousands of Han Chinese to overcome the dominance of Muslim Uighurs? What do we get out of supporting Putin in Chechnya? He may need to do it to maintain his country, but we don't need to support what looks like a rape, pillage, and kill campaign against Muslims. The other area is Israel and Palestine. We're not going to abandon the Israelis but we need to reestablish the relationship so it looks like we're the great power and they're our ally, and not the other way around. We need to create a situation where moderate Muslims can express support for the United States without being laughed off the block.
23 August 2006
Posted by berd
This worthwhile article is via Harper's and Ken Silverstein. Michael Scheuer discusses the connections between US foreign policy and terrorism (past and present.) Here it is without further ado: