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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

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,415 ratings  ·  91 reviews
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Though U.S. leaders try to convince the world of their success in fighting al Qaeda, one member of the U.S. intelligence community would like to inform the public that we are, in fact, losing the war on terror. Further, until U.S. leaders recognize the errant path they have irresponsibly chosen, he says, our enemies will only grow strong
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Potomac Books (first published June 1st 2004)
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3.80  · 
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 ·  1,415 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Feb 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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 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.
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Will Byrnes
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: terrorism, nonfiction
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
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
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Michael Brady
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Pointed and prescient.
Syed Fathi
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As Howard Zinn brilliantly puts it “you cannot be neutral on a moving train”. This book was written from the perspective of American’s interest on why they are losing their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The short answer is that America don’t have a clear quantifiable objective. Now, let’s deplore the long answer as Michael Scheuer puts it.

Scheuer was part of American intelligence community in the CIA specializing in Osama bin Laden, he uses his insight and specialty to argue the reason for the A
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very good read that exposes some light on the details surrounding the failure of the war on "terror". Mr. Scheuer's in depth look at what led to these problems and his suggested solutions to fix them were enlightening. I do disagree with his ideas on using more force to crush the insurgents which would then end the war. I firmly believe this conflict has shown us that the more force we seem to use, and the more civilians we kill, the more terrorists or insurgents we create. Still a great read ...more
I picked this up used for about $0.25, and it was worth almost every penny! OK, OK, it's not that bad, but it is now VERY dated (e.g. finding and capturing or killing Osama bin Laden was still a major concern when this was written). For the most part a very sober assessment of the War on Terror, even if I disagreed with some of the premises and conclusions. The author cites a number of books and authors who are much better, in my opinion - better to read the sources ad fontes than this set of co ...more
Sean Ragan
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I think Michael Scheuer was...not quite "set up"...but probably positioned to take the fall for the intelligence sharing failure that led to 9/11 by his bosses at the CIA. Their decision to allow this book to be published rather smacks of a calculated ploy; he comes off as very bright but also angry enough to be considered unbalanced.
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A bit out of date by the time I got around to reading it. Would be better read with a compainion piece describing how british imperialism and arbitrary drawing of map lines has affected the region, as well as a history by the peoples themselves.
Bryan Jaketic
Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This critique of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was written by a CIA agent in 2004 and presents a pretty contrarian view to the general narrative of the time. It's somewhat interesting to read this perspective 15 years later, but the book got very repetitive pretty early on.
Meraj Hasan
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A well-researched book that is a guide to understanding the basis of terrorism that has plagued us since nearly two decades. From the man who was once in charge of the hunt for Bin Laden.
Jonathan Roberts
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it
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
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 29, 2016 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
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
Feb 14, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Scott DeVogelaere
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
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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
“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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