Among other things I learned was that the big to-do when Zubeta was captured after a firefight and wounded was that the US flew the best U.S. physicia...moreAmong other things I learned was that the big to-do when Zubeta was captured after a firefight and wounded was that the US flew the best U.S. physicians to Pakistan to treat him. He probably had the best medical care of anyone in the world so he could be completely healthy so they could torture him (no kidding.) The problem was that he was a crazy guy suffering from delusions. The CIA had all sorts of evidence that he knew nothing, was not a player, but acted as sort of the Al Qaeda travel agent for family members. Bush had made such a big thing out of his capture, it put the entire intelligence community on the spot to try to justify the torture and pretend his information had some value.
It also became abundantly clear early on, that the U.S. had evidence (from an intercepted conversation) that Ben Laden's goal was not to overthrow the United States, but rather to destabilize the Arab world: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, and others in hopes of establishing a true fundamentalist theocracy. He was targeting the Saudi family and the oil fields to begin with. To do so would completely unhinge the world's economy, which runs on oil. (See also The Looming Tower for more evidence of Ben Laden's strategic goals.
Bush, in a speech to West Point, in 2003 had already expressed the need for new tactics to deal with non-nation threats. It would require going after individuals rather than states and these individuals could move freely from one state to another making their apprehension quite difficult. (See my little essay on swarming as a superior tactic in OpenSalon http://open.salon.com/content.php?cid...)
The Cheney Doctrine, i.e. the One-Percent Rule that says if there is even a one-percent chance of a threat it must be dealt with, cold have enormous implications for the United States because it also meant that we should react based on suspicion rather than evidence hence the Bush Administration's throwing out many of the Constitutional protections in the name of threat avoidance.
How all this will play out in the future remains to be seen. (less)
I have always been a fan of Julian Simon who provided a useful antidote to the apocalyptic thinking (my crap-detector goes into overdrive when people...moreI have always been a fan of Julian Simon who provided a useful antidote to the apocalyptic thinking (my crap-detector goes into overdrive when people indulge in that form of argument) of the likes of Paul Ehrlich, et al.
I first ran across Simon after I read a long article about the famous bet back in the early eighties. (http://www.nytimes.com/1990/12/02/mag...) Essentially a battle between two schools of thought, the Malthusians v. the Cornucopians, the bet enlivened the debate between two ways of looking at the world.
I was reminded of this book recently when I read Penn Jillette's homage to books and reading http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/boo... in which he cites Simon's book as being important to changing his perspective.
I note there is a soon-to-be-released book about the famous bet in which the author takes a different tack. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/boo... I would quibble with his rather broad statement that it was the bet that created the gulf between economists and environmentalists, but I look forward to getting a copy of his book for my kindle when it's released in early September.