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Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror
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Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  1,291 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
The war on terror has created near unanimity on many points, at least within the American press and political leadership. One essential point of agreement: al Qaeda specifically and radical Islamism in general are stirred by a hatred of modernity. Or as President George W. Bush has articulated repeatedly, they hate freedom. Nonsense, responds the nameless author of this wo ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published June 1st 2004)
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Feb 10, 2008 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A Muslim, native-Pakistani law professor of mine published an article which paralleled one of the main observations of this book, and it is an observation which I agree with wholeheartedly. As my law professor wrote, America's discourse on Islamic terrorism is couched in language which portrays the terrorists as 'essentialist terrorists.' The language used both explicitly and implicitly denies that the those who use violence in such manners have any reason for doing what they do (whether such re ...more
Maria Andreu
Why do I do this to myself? I am a few chapters in, and I am completely frustrated all over again by the things we as a nation are doing around the world. Imperial Hubris is the well-written, slightly angry and fed up book by intelligence official Michael Scheuer that outlines not just the broad strokes of why our Middle East policy is going so wrong, but the subtle cultural and political nuances our leaders completely missed.

More to come when I'm done with it.
Thought provoking. Originally I thought the book was a rant and/or an outpouring of sympathy for Osama Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda. Yes, we and our demand for cheap oil and the dictatorous countries that provide us the same oil created Muslim hatred for us. Yes, our strategy (lack thereof) in Iraq and Afghanistan and the nightmare regimes we created was a boost for Muslim insurgency recruitment posters. All very true. Originally, I did not care for what I thought was an ex-intelligence officer saying ...more
Jul 27, 2012 Jerome rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dated at this point. Adherents of Catch-Phrase spouting, Chronic Labelist conservatism have entirely missed the point of the book. "Mikey Scheuer, in this babbling buffoonistic tome that not only gives aid and comfort to our enemies but also to the usual "Blame America Hate Israel" goons gathered around the Soros-Moore-MoveOn.Org kool aid pail, chooses to blame American Middle East policies and our support of Israel for why Osama is mad at us."

With Imperial Hubris, "Anonymous" - who we now know
The edition I read of this book was written in 2004, and Michael Scheuer, the author, was not identified in the book, but rather the author was named "Anonymous."

Despite the fact that this book is now 10 years old and that it has been several years since United States forces found and killed Osama bin Laden, the conclusions raised in this book remain valid. Bin Laden was not a terrorist, but the leader of an Islamic insurgency, which was waging jihad against the United States in defense of Islam
Aaron Crossen
Jul 06, 2007 Aaron Crossen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, commentary
This book had me thinking oppressively hard.

The book's author - Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst - argues that The US is losing, and will ultimately be defeated by militant Islam unless a number of dramatic, even catastrophic changes in US policy take place.

The book is monographic in the sense that it does not deviate from explaining why this is happening - it's 263 pages of punishment. This gives the book focus, but not so much as to feel too academic, as the author is lively and, perhaps
A solid sequel to the author's first book, Through Our Enemies' Eyes. The author, a retired intelligence officer much of whose career was focused on Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, is eloquent and angry, and makes a persuasive argument that the approach America's leadership has taken to the conflict with Islamic fundamentalists worldwide has been worse than ineffective - as he explains it, coming up with a worse set of responses would have been difficult if they'd set out to do so.

I was troubled b
Will Byrnes
Oct 26, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a bit tough to read at first, but got used to the style in time. the book was originally published as being written by "Anonymous." Later, Michael Sheuer fessed up. Scheuer was head of the special CIA division set up specifically for bin Laden. He provides a heavily sourced and detailed look at what the movement we call “terrorism” is actually all about. He concludes that this is an insurgency, a military action, not mere “terrorism,” a sort of mindless madness aimed solely at destr ...more
This book is still worth reading, for its often stunning prescience as well as the snapshot it offers of the particularly crazy time in America's public life surrounding the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. The author seems to buy into the "clash of civilizations" thesis, as evidenced by his references to authors like Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington. He has a rather old-fashioned and quixotic Reaganite conservatism that wavers between militarism and isolationism. Ultimately I find his pos ...more
Jun 15, 2012 Anthony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is a great book. It's somewhat lengthy but it's very insightful. Scheuer's book got me started on my own book "Dioxinomics: The Myth of Superpower in the Age of Dioxin." to address the huge fallacy that a total war can quash so-called terrorism.

Many Thanks for writing this.
Michael Brady
Mar 29, 2012 Michael Brady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pointed and prescient.
Mar 13, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one pissed off ex-CIA agent. Apparently, there is a great deal of incompetence and cowardice in governmental and military offices high and low. Hm. This ought to raise some eyebrows.
Jonathan Roberts
Jan 09, 2017 Jonathan Roberts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
It's quite unfortunate that a book which speaks of Osama bin Laden in the present and future tense remains highly relevant in 2017. But "quite unfortunate" is also an apt description of America and its allies' intervention in the Middle East for the past quarter-century.
This book will challenge everything you've heard or read about bin Laden and the September 11th terrorist attacks. Drawing on his unique abundance of experience, author Michael Scheuer ("Anomyous" in my edition) delivers a stron
First, contrary to some, Scheuer is NOT anti-Semitic. It is not anti-Semitic to question why we should give Israel blind, blank-check support; nor is it anti-Semitic to be anti-Zionist.

Now, here are some specifics of my review.

Part I - errors

He's got one minor one and one historically big one.

The historic one? He somehow claims Britain, not Turkey's first secular leader, Atatürk, abolished the Caliphate in 1924. For someone claiming Middle Eastern CIA analyst expertise, that's a credibility-dama
May 01, 2009 Jeff rated it liked it
I'm pretty disappointed. It's not terribly well written (typos galore), and it's long on criticism (some of it bitter) but short on suggestions. Some of the suggestions are pretty fucked up, too (build more minefields in Afghanistan?).

Most troubling is that it seems to dodge the biggest picture. Granted, members of the last 2 administrations have failed to look beyond "they hate us because we're different" and into the bigger picture of "they hate us because our foreign policy sucks." But Scheue
Jul 02, 2008 Naeem rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that has to be read to believed. There are two arguments here that never cross paths, that live parallel lives without any recognition of each other's presence.

Argument 1: Osama Bin Laden (OBL) is a rational human being who has articulated his policies clearly and with rational force.
That the US can meet his demands without much of an effort if it actually listens to him and considers that much of what he asks for is actually in the interests of the US.

Argument 2: OBL
While I disagree vehemently with some of the policies Scheuer promotes (e.g. drilling in Alaska, allowing mass-slaughter to occur world-wide so long as it isn't a 'direct' threat to U.S. interests), he raises a number of insightful and essential flaws in the U.S. mentality, strategies, policy, and actions with respect to the so-called War on Terror, invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, etc. Most importantly, I think he hammers home the points that we have failed time and again to take into account ...more
Jul 29, 2016 Gavin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coming late to this book, but I have to say that it encapsulates a great deal of my thoughts for years and that main premise is that Islam does not jihad because they hate us (US) and democracy, our freedoms of speech and lifestyle, but actually because the west i.e. United States policies that include us supporting corrupt regimes that we believe are in our interests, also support of Israel, and finally occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan on top of military bases in Saudi Arabia and other Islami ...more
Nov 10, 2012 Uzma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the unbiased books that I have read on Osama bin Laden and U.S.'s September 11. The writer shares his first hand knowledge of the Muslim world, their beliefs, their love of Allah and His Messenger, as well as his experience with the U.S. government and intelligence.

In the book, he highlights the discrepancies in the U.S. government itself while stressing on the fact that if the West stops interfering in the Muslim world, the Muslims would establish peace in their land based on their own
Jun 25, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book that lays out failures in the West's approach to fighting the War on Terror, specifically the dangers of mischaracterising al Qaeda as crazed, "freedom-hating" religious lunatics. Scheuer correctly defines bin Laden and his allies as an aggressive militant group that are opposed to US policies and actions, rather than vague allusions to American values.

Delivers a suckerpunch when discussing solutions to identified issues: Scheuer suggests a "rivers of blood" approach in fighting al
I read this at the beginning of 2005, which was a pretty good time given I read a good number of books. This was an interesting book. It discusses the issue with an emphasis on looking at it from Bin Laden's and the Middle East's point of view. It is clear that the author knows his material, which he presents in a thoughtful fashion with various examples to illustrate the arguments. He brings in history, political, cultural and other sources, many unclassified that anyone can read to show Bin La ...more
Feb 14, 2016 Phoebe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A difficult book to read 10+ years later. Scheuer makes undeniably good points about the nature of US policies in the Middle East and elsewhere, and the perception of those policies by a Muslim population. However, Scheuer is overzealous and his prescriptions for actions sound more like targeted mass killings than the kind of war or reconciliation I feel most people want these days. Pessimistic and obviously bitter Scheuer sends out mixed messages. Again, difficult to assess objectively when the ...more
Nate Cooley
When this book was published, the author was "Anonymous" ... Since then though, the author was discovered to be Michael Scheuer, the same former CIA operative who wrote "Through Our Enemies Eyes."

This book was controversial because it was published at the height of the War on Terror and it condemned our engagement in both Iraq and Afghanistan as utterly misguided.

I have a love/hate relationship with the content of this book. I want to believe that what we are doing in the countries mentioned ab
May 03, 2009 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Despite whether or not I agree with this book, the writing was a bit too emotionally charged for me to take it at face value. Thankfully in the new epilogue the author explains his background for the sake of full disclosure, and I can understand why it's hard to separate his personal experiences in the CIA from his analysis of the ineptitude of the Bush administration. That aside, I still wasn't satisfied by the book because every chapter seems to reword the previous chapter. This puppy could ha ...more
Scott DeVogelaere
If anybody has more credentials in the supposed war on terror, it is Michael Scheuer. He was on a team to hunt for al-Qaeda and bin Laden for many years, only to step down when his information was consistently ignored for not being what the powers wanted to hear. What the media advertises is that these so-called terrorists hate us for what we are. Scheuer reveals that these people aren't terrorists, but reactionaries who are pissed at hell over our imperialistic tendencies. No, he doesn't condon ...more
Mar 01, 2010 Barrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here’s another depressing (and by way of warning, fairly dense) must-read. Scheuer, CIA analyst and head of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit in the late 1990s, focuses on what the U.S. intelligence community knew about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda prior to 9/11 as well as what we continue to know about the Al Qaeda’s purpose and agenda. The short version is 1) we knew a ton and 2) U.S. policymakers and military leaders appear dead-set on ignoring hugely important characteristics – indeed, tenants ...more
Sep 10, 2007 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: "We are going to die." - Indiana Jones
Shelves: cia, history
A scathing critique of US foreign policy. Long over due. The book makes a solid case that we are not hated in the Middle East because we are free, or because we have money, or because we watch movies and dance and drink and listen to rock 'n' roll and hip-hop and wear precious few clothes in the summer. They hate us, this book argues, because our foreign policy, specifically our policy toward the Middle East and the ripple effects of our oil policy, has caused immense suffering in that part of t ...more
James Hatton
Nov 23, 2014 James Hatton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Scheuer was the head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's Counterterrorism Center's bin Laden station. He is a Republican. He wrote this book because he believed U.S. counterterrorism policy was flawed. The analysis in this book is detailed and focused. I learned a lot about bin Laden and Al Qaeda and terrorism by reading this book. This is a very interesting book. It is still relevant.

Imperial Hubris was first published in 2004. My guess is that many of the things that concerned S
Aug 21, 2008 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Scheuer originally wrote this book anonomously which is A)cool and B)cause for intrigue and perhaps leads me to believe that his insight and observations are more matter of fact and honest than others. I tend to agree with his arguments and analysis on why the United States is losing our 'war on terrorism,' and I am therefore rather distressed that in the 4 years since this book's publication, no new strategy seems to have been implemented. For logical, succinct analysis as why we are fi ...more
John Rivera
Jun 30, 2008 John Rivera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read this work twice and referenced it a number of times since I first read it four years ago. It's a good work that takes the topic of terrorism and reviews it through an academic approach and the mind of a critical thinker. This work combined with "Through Our Enemies' Eyes" are in my opinion the quintessential works for studying terrorism. Read these and take note of the references (as well as read some of them) and one will find oneself with an amazing amount of knowledge and understand ...more
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Michael F. Scheuer is a former CIA employee. In his 22-year career, he served as the Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (aka "Alec Station"), from 1996 to 1999, the Osama bin Laden tracking unit at the Counterterrorist Center. He then worked again as Special Advisor to the Chief of the bin Laden unit from September 2001 to November 2004.

Scheuer resigned in 2004. He is currently a news analyst fo
More about Michael Scheuer...

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“As Ronald Spiers, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Pakistan, has said, the “Robotic repetition of ‘because they hate freedom’ does not do as an explanation.” 0 likes
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