View Full Version : Politicians ''don't have a clue'' about with the war on terror

05-30-2011, 10:03 AM
The title in The Daily Telegraph was: 'Hay Festival 2011: ex-CIA man claims Barack Obama 'doesn't have a clue' and a sub-title 'David Cameron and Barack Obama ''don't have a clue'' about dealing with the war on terror, a former senior member of the CIA has claimed'.

The speaker being Michael Scheuer, a name I expect familiar to many in the USA, although far from that here in the UK; I've seen the name and vaguely recall reading something. The reported speech was very direct:
They can't cope with the fact that it's nothing to do with the way we live. It doesn't have anything to do with elections or democracy or liberty.

We are being attacked in the west and we will continue to be attacked in the west as long as we are in Afghanistan, as long as we support the Israelis, as long as we protect the Saudi police state.

Responding to a question:
We are the ones that are arranging the cultural war against them. What we will see as al Qaida evolves is that the next generation is better educated, combat experienced and probably much crueller.

The American relationship with Israel, in my mind, is a useless and unnecessary relationship. As long as we are playing a role we are the recruiting sergeant for the people that are going to kill us.


Leaving aside the controversial comments on US / Western foreign policy in the Middle East I was particularly drawn to the future threat:
...What we will see as al Qaida evolves is that the next generation is better educated, combat experienced and probably much crueller.

Personally I disagree with him on the impact of US foreign policy on the motivation for AQ. It is a simple answer for a complex set of issues.

05-30-2011, 10:16 AM
The only thing I don't get is why you call that "controversial".
It's so obvious.

Ghost Soldier
05-30-2011, 10:23 AM
Michael Scheuer is starting to get to be a bit much. We get it, Mr. Scheuer. You and only you know the depths of the threat. Got it. But I think it may be to the point where you're protesting too much. Are there regrets about your time there?

05-30-2011, 11:50 AM
It is a simple answer for a complex set of issues.

Almost everything in life is complex, but not everything that's complex evil stays complex once you removed all non-critical contributions.

There may be hundred thousands of reasons for AQ terror - including bad mothers and stuff. Yet, once you remove the motivations mentioned by that guy, there's likely not enough left to keep the movement rolling.

The idea that AQ terror is somehow about Western democracy or civil liberties or some form of envy does not appear in germanophone comments.
This should be a hint at how biased (if not self-opinionated) the anglophone (if not U.S.) perception of the threat is. The Germans, Swiss and Austrians are almost neutral outsiders, being only marginally affected by AQ, after all.

Bob's World
05-30-2011, 12:16 PM
Let me offer an alternative Michael Sheuer's grim prediction:

AQ, having become to tied to the ineffective violent tactics they promote in their UW efforts grow increasingly irrelevant. Contributing to this are several factors:

1. US and Western foreign policies toward the Middle East continue to evolve to become less blindly supportive of long-time despots and more willing to embrace popular movements for greater liberty.

2. The US stops preaching at Arab leaders to be more like us and also stop blindly supporting Israel. Governments of states like Israel and Saudi Arabia come to realize that they both have some issues in common that they need to address to move forward to greater stability:

A. They both come to realize that their greatest threats are internal and that it is the way they govern that "radicalizes" these significant and distinct populaces far more than any external factors such as AQ or Hezbollah who merely leverage these conditions to their own advantage and for their own ends. Small changes are made by each to grant greater respect, justice and equality to their entire populace, regardless of religion, tribe, or other factors too often applied to distinguish and discriminate.

B. They both come to realize that like Rome before them, separating hubs of religious power into a separate church state allows the secular state to evolve. Israel shifts the debate from arbitrary lines, such as borders drawn before or after various conflicts, to one of defining a sovereign religious state centered on the Temple Mount in old Jerusalem, under a council of Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leadership. Similarly in Arabia a Shiite/Sunni council come to reign over a newly defined sovereign Muslim state in Mecca and perhaps Medina.

C. AQ is replaced by a much more political, much less violent coordination and advocacy group for Arab states that ultimately evolves into an organization very much like the European Union over time.

Meanwhile, state vs state conflicts re-emerge as the major focus of the larger powers as a unique era of US hegemony wanes, and long suppressed issues of geo-politics and regional influence come back into play. Non-state actors continue to grow in influence and concepts of what makes up a state or sovereignty continue to evolve.

As to the US? The US remains a dominant power, but backs off from the controlling approach demanded by the containment strategy that severed so well during the Cold War to one that picks its fights much more selectively based on truly vital interests rather than on outdated impulses to simply control the actions of others that do not truly threaten us.



Bill Moore
05-31-2011, 11:55 AM
Michael Scheuer is a bit pompous, but that doesn't mean he is not mostly correct in his assessment. I rarely have dogmatic views on issues, but our belief that social engagement (civil affairs, nation building, etc. in the developing world or modern world) will stop attacks upon our nation is simply stupid and a waste of valuable resources. The uneducated masses attacking us in Afghanistan are attacking us because we are there. Those who attack, or attempt to attack, us on our soil are almost all from upper middle class families and college educated. They attack us for the reasons Scheuer mentions, and will continue to attempt to do so. This is far from a major threat to our national security, and diverting our great military forces to fight what Mr. West called the wrong war is almost criminal in nature (it supports the Defense Industrial complex conspiracies).

Even if Saudi reforms and Israel and the various Palestinians find a workable peace agreement, we will have at least two generations of potential terrorists who will seek revenge for our occupation of Afghanistan (justified) and Iraq. It is the old and new normal, not much new except our over zealous response.

Hard to disengage now without creating the wrong perception.

06-01-2011, 11:03 AM
A commentary by one of the BBC's best analysts, Roger Hardy, on the situation with 'The Beltway' and opens with:
In his first two years in office, President Obama had six foreign-policy goals. None has been achieved.

SWC is not a political board, but such comments do add context to outsiders looking at how policy emerges.


Bob's World
06-01-2011, 01:19 PM

This is really just one goal:

"The six (missed) goals of Barack Obama
In his first two years in office, Obama had six foreign-policy goals:

to withdraw from foreign wars (billed as ‘legacy issues’, coded language for saying they were Bush’s fault),
to cut the size and budget of the military,
to dethrone the ‘war on terror’ as a foreign-policy obsession and make it compatible with the rule of law,
to end, or at least reduce, the deep-seated animosity between the Muslim world and America,
to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians a priority,
to get out of the democracy-promotion business."

I would summarize as: To reframe US approaches to the Middle East from those designed for the Cold War and carried forward into our response to the attacks of 9/11.

I believe that to be a sound strategic policy goal. Sadly we still see AQ and 9/11 as a situation caused by a threat to be defeated (rather than as a response to an out-dated and overly obtrusive and controlling US foreign policy in the Middle East); and still therefore rely upon an intel-driven, military-led approach to what is more aptly a matter of Grand Strategy, Policy and Diplomacy.