A very interesting interview with Michael Scheuer who, until he
resigned in 2004, was a 22-year veteran with the CIA, he answers six
- We're coming up on the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Is the country safer or more vulnerable to terrorism?
- Is Al Qaeda stronger or weaker than it was five years ago?
- Given all this, why hasn't there been an attack on the United States for the past five years?
- Has the war in Iraq helped or hurt in the fight against terrorism?
- Things seemed to have turned for the worse in Afghanistan too. What's your take on the situation there?
- Has the war in Lebanon also been a plus for the jihadists?
His answers seem credible to me and damning for our foreign policy
decisions (by our I generally mean US decisions but the UK seems
destiny to slavishly follow suit, hence: our). I think his answer to
the supplementary question “What should we do now?” is worth quoting in
This may be a country bumpkin approach, but the truth is the best place to start. We need to acknowledge that we are at war, not because of who we are, but because of what we do
[Ed: my emphasis]. We are confronting a jihad that is inspired by the
tangible and visible impact of our policies. People are willing to die
for that, and we're not going to win by killing them off one by one. We
have a dozen years of reliable polling in the Middle East, and it shows
overwhelming hostility to our policiesand at the same time it shows
majorities that admire the way we live, our ability to feed and clothe
our children and find work. We need to tell the truth to set the stage
for a discussion of our foreign policy.
At the core
of the debate is oil. As long as we and our allies are dependent on
Gulf oil, we can't do anything about the perception that we support
Arab tyrannythe Saudis, the Kuwaitis, and other regimes in the region.
Without the problem of oil, who cares who rules Saudi Arabia? If we
solved the oil problem, we could back away from the contradiction of
being democracy promoters and tyranny protectors. We should have
started on this back in 1973, at the time of the first Arab oil
embargo, but we've never moved away from our dependence. As it stands,
we are going to have to fight wars if anything endangers the oil supply
in the Middle East.
What you want with foreign policy
is options. Right now we don't have options because our economy and our
allies' economies are dependent on Middle East oil. What benefit do we
get by letting China commit genocide-by-inundation by moving thousands
and thousands of Han Chinese to overcome the dominance of Muslim
Uighurs? What do we get out of supporting Putin in Chechnya? He may
need to do it to maintain his country, but we don't need to support
what looks like a rape, pillage, and kill campaign against Muslims. The
other area is Israel and Palestine. We're not going to abandon the
Israelis but we need to reestablish the relationship so it looks like
we're the great power and they're our ally, and not the other way
around. We need to create a situation where moderate Muslims can
express support for the United States without being laughed off the
There is a risk, I guess, that you listen to the “experts” who
support your cause and denounce those who don't. I acknowledge that.
But those people seem most credible to me who acknowledge that, in a
Newtonian sense, there is no reaction without action. I believe it is our actions
abroad that lead us down the path we are on and things are getting
consistently worse. To believe that they will get better by continuing
to do the same things seems like folly to me. [Curiouser and Curiouser!]