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

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  936 ratings  ·  67 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
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Published (first published June 1st 2004)
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Matthew
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.
Jim
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...more
Will Byrnes
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
Stephen
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
Aaron Crossen
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...more
Anthony
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.
Brian
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.
Jerome
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...more
James
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...more
Ben
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
Jeff
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...more
Naeem
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...more
Socraticgadfly
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...more
Uzma
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...more
Chris
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...more
Angel
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
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...more
Heather
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
Barrett
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
Nathan
Sep 17, 2007 Nathan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
John Rivera
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
Jamie
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
Sean Rosenthal
Interesting Quote:

"U.S., British, and other coalition forces are trying to govern apparently ungovernable postwar states in Afghanistan and Iraq...U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do...since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden's only indispensible ally."

-Michael Scheuer, Imperial Hubris
Audrey
Despite the fact that bin Laden is dead and this book focuses a great deal on bin Laden (and the fact that I'm reading the book 7 years after it was published), I do believe this is still an important book and should be more widely read by Americans. The arguments Mr. Scheuer makes and the evidence he gives to support them are challenging, eye-opening, and very necessary for us to understand if we ever want this "War on Terrorism" to end.
Lumumba Shakur
Being the head of the Bin Ladin Task Force in the CIA, Michael Scheuer's assessment that terrorism has it roots, not in radical religious ideology, but political grievances, many of which are legitimate concerns, the contents and message of this book cannot be dismissed as the ranting of the "radical Left". If you come across anyone thinks the "War on Terror" is about a clash between Islam and Democracy, leave this at their doorstep.
Waqas Iftikhar
Explains why even after the whole intelligence network of world operating against Jihadis and AlQaeda still they continue to exist and pose a potent threat.
Osama Bin Ladin him self said in a video if you want to know why are you loosing this war then read this book written by some one who is your own (Former CIA).
Also exposes genuine blunders of U.S before going in Afghanistan in WoT. (Intel failures.)
Mark Sequeira
I buy these and give them away. A MUST-read by everyone concerned and the ill-concerned. If you wonder about 9-11 or about American policy and if it was to blame, this is the book. Some have argued that Michael Scheuer is/has become a bit of a nut-job and his last book is a rant from a disgruntled expert no one s listening to. All that said, this is the book to help you understand it all.
wally
my copy was by "anonymous"...and so it goes.

i know at one point, he states that "they" needed a...thingy...so as to use the nuclear option. a kind of go ahead from some uppy-yuck....i've heard others express the opinion that they haven't found the aforementioned thingy giving the go-ahead to suitcase bomb. does that mean it won't happen?
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132112
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
More about Michael Scheuer...
Osama Bin Laden Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq Spy Trade: How Israel's Lobby Undermines America's Economy America And The Middle East: Challenges For The Future

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