The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Meeting Anonymous

Choice quotes from Meet The Press with Michael Scheuer, the rather bizarre author of Imperial Hubris:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you and our viewers from your book this quote: "U.S. leaders refuse to accept the obvious: We are fighting a worldwide Islamic insurgency--not criminality or terrorism--and our policy and procedures have failed to make more than a modest dent in enemy forces."

Do you believe we're losing the war on terror?

MR. SCHEUER: I think without question we're losing the war on terror, sir, not because they are stronger than us but because we resolutely refuse to recognize the motivation of the enemy is grounded so thoroughly in their religion and their perception that American policies are a threat to annihilate that religion. And that's not to say we should sympathize or empathize with their position, but certainly if you're going to destroy your enemy, you better understand what he's about.

. . .

MR. RUSSERT: I want to read something else from your book. "The military is now America's only tool and will remain so while current policies are in place. No public diplomacy, presidential praise for Islam, or politically correct debate masking the reality that many of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims hate us for actions, not values, will get America out of this war."

"Actions, not values." What are the actions that created this hatred in the Muslim world?

MR. SCHEUER: Our foreign policy, sir, about six items that bin Laden has isolated. I think if has a genius, that's one of them. He has created an agenda that appeals to Muslims whether they are fundamentalists or liberals or moderates. Our unqualified support for Israel is one. Our ability to keep oil prices low, enough for Western consumers, is another. Our presence on the Arabian peninsula certainly is another. Our military presence in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, in Yemen, in the Philippines, in other Muslim countries is a fourth. Our support for governments that are widely viewed as suppressing Muslims--Russia and Chechnya, for example, the Indians in Kashmir, the Chinese in Western China. But perhaps most of all, our policy of supporting what bin Laden and I think much of the Muslim world regards as tyrannical governments from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, whether it's the Al Sauds, the Kuwaitis, the Egyptian government, the Algerian government. He's focused Muslims on those policies and it is a very resonant agenda.

MR. RUSSERT: When you say "unqualified support for Israel," I received an e-mail from a former colleague of yours at the CIA and it said that Scheuer's basic premise is blame the Jews, that the reason we're in this fix is because of our support for Israel.

MR. SCHEUER: No, that's hardly the case. Indeed, the Arab-Israeli problem for so long was just a minor annoyance in the terms of our perception in the Muslim world.

MR. RUSSERT: When you say "politically correct debate," what are you talking about?

MR. SCHEUER: Yeah. What I'm talking about is an American landscape littered with politicians who have dared question our relationship with Israel. No one is advocating dumping Israel as an ally. We have, unfortunately for America, a long history of abandoning allies. But there is a perception in the Muslim world, and I think there's a perception on the part of many Americans, that the tail is leading the dog on this case. And perception, for better or worse, is often reality.

MR. RUSSERT: So what would you do?

MR. SCHEUER: I think we need to take a position with Israel that suits American interests.

MR. RUSSERT: Such as?

MR. SCHEUER: Such as perhaps being more insistent on some arrangement with the settlements. Certainly, no one is going to withdraw the protective umbrella of the United States, but at some point, Americans need to look after their own interests first.

MR. RUSSERT: But do you believe that being "tough on Israel" would in any way change Osama bin Laden's agenda or desire to destroy America?

MR. SCHEUER: His agenda is not to destroy America, Mr. Russert. He simply wants us out of his neighborhood. He wants us out of the Middle East. And I'm not--no, it would not change his agenda, but my point here is that America has a choice between war and endless war with the forces led by Osama bin Laden. And at some point, we need to take actions in our own interests that limit his ability to grow in power and popularity in the Muslim world.

Issandr El AmraniUSComment