Thursday, February 21, 2008

Marching Toward Hell

"Marching Toward Hell" by Michael Scheuer, the former head of CIA's Bin Laden unit, was recommended reading by Bin Laden in his most recent video message. As the CIA man in charge of pursuing Bin Laden, Michael Scheuer has done a lot of reading and research to understand what motivates Bin Laden and his supporters to attack the US and Western interests around the world. He has condensed his learning in two books published last year. The first is titled "Imperial Hubris" and the the most recent one is "Marching Toward Hell". In both of these books, he rejects the common refrain heard in the United States that "Al-Qaeda hates us because we stand for freedom and democracy". Instead, he argues that it is our interventionist policies around the world that motivate our enemies to be so determined to commit violence against our interests. He singles out our policies in the Middle East and our unqualified support for Israel as the biggest obstacles to a peaceful coexistence between Islam and the West. Among the prominent US political elite, all of the mainstream parties and leaders disagree with Sheuer's message. The only two people that show any agreement with Sheuer are Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who recently dropped out of the Democratic primaries and Congressman Ron Paul, the Republican candidate running a distant third in the Presidential primaries.

Here's a video clip of a recent interview of Mr. Scheuer:

Here's former CIA official Michael Scheuer talking to NPR about the Chapman incident involving suicide bombing and killing of CIA agents:


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting NPR interview of former CIA agent and chief bin Laden hunter in Afghanistan Michael Schueur who says:

1. Double agents today can be deadly. They don't just feed bad intelligence to their CIA handlers, they can literally blow up in your face, as the Jordanian doctor did in Khost at FOB Chapman.

2. Difference between Russian recruits and al Qaeda recruits is that the Russians hated the Soviet communist system and admired the Americans. They thought of the Communist party bosses as just a bunch of gangsters looking out for themselves. The al Qaeda recruits, on the other hand, are very well-educated, wealthy and committed and include doctors, engineers and sons of wealthy individuals like Zawahiri and bin Laden, who gave up their comforts and wealth to fight for their cause.

3. US presidents are not telling the truth about Afghanistan. The Afghans see us as foreign occupiers and infidels in their land. Without the help of the Afghans, the Taliban and al Qaeda could not mount the resistance they do in Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an interesting commentary by Juan Cole on the Khost suicide bombing:

"Although Pakistani troops fighting in South Waziristan had found Arab passports and other effects suggesting a small presence of Arab fighters with the TTP, al-Balawi had clearly joined the movement and given it his allegiance. It seems to me an alarming development, as the Aljazeera anchor also noted, that Arab jihadi volunteers might now be enlisting under the banner of the Pakistani Taliban rather than, as in the past, al-Qaeda or one of the Afghan insurgent groups. The Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan is only about 7 years old, there never having been Pakistani Taliban until the early 21st century--it was a phenomenon of the Soviet ethnic cleansing of Afghans, which forced 3 million into refugee camps in Pakistan, where many became radicalized. (And were encouraged in that direction by the Reagan administration).

Many intelligence specialists had insisted that the Khost bombing was the work of the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan. But I read al-Balawi's emotionalism about the Mahsuds as a clear indication that he was working for them rather than for the Haqqanis. He must have repeated seven or eight times that Baitullah Mahsud would be avenged. The militant founder of the TTTP was killed by a US drone strike in South Waziristan in August."

"Al-Balawi's sad biography in fact ties together the whole history of Western, including Israeli, attacks on the Middle East. Al-Balawi's family is Palestinians displaced from Beersheba by Zionist immigrants into British Mandate Palestine, who in 1948 ethnically cleansed about 700,000 Palestinians from what became Israel. Most Palestinians in Jordan are bitter about the loss of their homes, for which they never received compensation, and some still live in refugee camps. The British Empire and the United States supported this displacement of the Palestinians and to this day the US government often attempts to criminalize even charitable aid to the suffering Palestinian people."

"The Arabic press is confirming that al-Balawi was further enraged by the Israeli war on poor little Gaza last winter. A physician, he volunteered to be part of a group that intended to go to Gaza to do relief work for the victims of Israel's brutal targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. (The Israelis were trying to destroy the fundamentalist Hamas party, which rules Gaza, and gave as their pretext the occasional rockets Hamas fired into Israel, though in fact there had been a truce for much of 2008, a truce of which the Israelis coldly took advantage to plan their war.)

The Jordanian secret police arrested al-Balawi to prevent him from going to Gaza. It may be that he had to agree to work for it as a quid pro quo to regain his freedom."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story about Helen Thomas' persistence in seeking answers on the core question as to "why do they want to harm us?"

After Obama briefly addressed L'Affaire Abdulmutallab and wrote "must do better" on the report cards of the national security schoolboys responsible for the near catastrophe, the President turned the stage over to counter-terrorism guru John Brennan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

It took 89-year old veteran correspondent Helen Thomas to break through the vapid remarks about channeling "intelligence streams," fixing "no-fly" lists, deploying "behavior detection officers," and buying more body-imaging scanners.

Thomas recognized the John & Janet filibuster for what it was, as her catatonic press colleagues took their customary dictation and asked their predictable questions. Instead, Thomas posed an adult query that spotlighted the futility of government plans to counter terrorism with more high-tech gizmos and more intrusions on the liberties and privacy of the traveling public.

She asked why Abdulmutallab did what he did.

Thomas: "Why do they want to do us harm? And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why."

Brennan: "Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents... They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he's (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death."

Thomas: "And you're saying it's because of religion?"

Brennan: "I'm saying it's because of an al Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way."

Thomas: "Why?"

Brennan: "I think this is a - long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland."

Thomas: "But you haven't explained why."

Neither did President Obama, nor anyone else in the U.S. political/media hierarchy. All the American public gets is the boilerplate about how evil al Qaeda continues to pervert a religion and entice and exploit impressionable young men.

There is almost no discussion about why so many people in the Muslim world object to U.S. policies so strongly that they are inclined to resist violently and even resort to suicide attacks.

Masadi said...

Israel is a colonial outpost in the Middle East (created in order to control the resource rich area through war generated dictatorships) that has been given a Jewish face for the purpose of maintainability in the area through solidarity building among Jews, by pitting them against Arabs. It has absolutely nothing to do with being a homeland for the Jews, except as manipulation. The same corporations that were helping Hitler eliminate the Jews later wholeheartedly supported the creation of Israel as if they had miraculously discovered God.

This colonial outpost's creation is historically linked to WASPS (the British colonials and later the U.S. power elite). Giving this outpost a Jewish face has served two functions for these elite:

1. Maintainability through Jewish population solidarity for perpetual war against the Arabs, something that an Arab outpost like Kuwait or the UAE could not have achieved because the underlying population would have rebelled, bringing to naught any Arab based colonial outpost that was created.

2. Scapegoating the Jews so that the blow-back of such inhumane policies written in Washington and translated into fact by the Israeli elite are seen by Arabs as being "caused by the Jews", which will have grave consequences for the Jewish population in the long run given how the Arabs are being victimized in the most barbaric and inhumane manner by these elite, now for over half a century.

The conflict has more to do with the political economy of the current world system dominated by the U.S. and not religion per se. However, if a real religious face to the conflict is to be located (given the religious preferences of the perpetrators and victims), the following is the most accurate picture:

A war started and perpetuated by the WASPS (White Anglo Saxon Protestant Christians), scapegoating the Jews and victimizing the Muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed piece "The US as Israel's Enabler in the Middle East" by KATHLEEN CHRISTISON:

Before the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the United States never considered that Egypt was quite the strategic asset that it became when it surrendered its military capability in the interests of Israel. The same can be said about the United States’ relations with several other Arab states. Its involvement in Lebanon over the years -- including its effort to remove Syrian forces from Lebanon --
The recent Wikileaks releases of State Department cables and particularly al-Jazeera’s release of a raft of Palestinian documents dealing with negotiations over the last decade also demonstrate with striking clarity how hard the United States works, and has always worked, to help Israel in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiating process. U.S. support for Israel has never been a secret, becoming less and less so in recent years, but the leaked documents provide the most dramatic picture yet of the United States’ total disdain for all Palestinian negotiating demands and its complete helplessness in the face of Israeli refusal to make concessions. It is striking to note from these papers that the U.S. role as “Israel’s lawyer” -- a description coined by Aaron David Miller after his involvement in negotiations during the Clinton era -- is the same whether the administration is Bill Clinton’s or George W. Bush’s or Barack Obama’s. Israel’s interests and demands always prevail.

Beyond the Arab world, U.S. policy on Iran is dictated more or less totally by Israel. The pressure to attack Iran -- either a U.S. attack or U.S. support for an Israeli attack -- which has been brought to bear for most of the eight years since the start of the war on Iraq, ...
It has been clear to most analysts for years, even decades, that the United States favors Israel, but this reality has never been revealed so explicitly until recent events laid the relationship bare, and laid bare the fact that Israel is at the center of virtually every move the United States makes in the region. There has long been a taboo on talking about these realities, a taboo that has tied the tongues of people like my interlocutor. People do not mention Israel because they might be called anti-Semitic, they might be attacked as “singling out” Israel for criticism; the media fail to discuss Israel and what it does around the Middle East and, most directly, to the Palestinians who live under its rule because this might provoke angry letters to the editor and cancelled subscriptions by Israel supporters. Congressmen will not endanger campaign funds by talking honestly about Israel. And so Israel is taken off everyone’s radar screen. Progressives may “mention Israel in passing,” as my friend told me, but they do no more. Ultimately, because no one talks about it, everyone stops even thinking about Israel as the prime mover behind so many U.S. policies and actions in the Middle East.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece by Jack Hunter titled "Peter King's Radical Ignorance" in The American Conservative magazine:

This is not unlike when we are told that terrorists simply “hate our freedom,” as President Bush and his Republican supporters like Rep. King have always considered a satisfactory explanation for our problems with radical Islam. Yet using two of the very examples cited at King’s hearings—Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan and the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad—what can we deduce about what actually causes domestic Islamic terrorism? If virtually every would-be domestic Islamic terrorist cites the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as their primary motivation—which virtually all of them do including Hasan and Shahzad—and yet we are still fighting wars in both countries allegedly in the name of fighting terrorists… might it be time to reexamine and perhaps reassess our foreign policy? Are we attacking the problem of radical Islam or helping to create it? Has the War on Terror actually become a war for it?

Yet few dare raise these most pertinent questions. When longtime DC-based tax activist Grover Norquist suggested in January that conservatives should begin to have a conversation about the wisdom of our war in Afghanistan, he was swiftly denounced by many on the Right for even daring to discuss the matter. Norquist defended his suggestion: “I’m confident about where that conversation would go. And I think the people who are against that conversation know where it would go, too.” Addressing some of his harsher critics, Norquist shot back: “Shut up is not an argument… Many of the people who want us to stay in Afghanistan are smart people. There are good arguments for their position. So let’s hear them.”

But hearing any serious cost/benefit analysis about our current foreign policy is about as likely to happen as Washington leaders addressing and correcting our reckless domestic policy of trillion dollar deficits and debt. It is simply assumed that the status quo, whatever it may be, is somehow beneficial and necessary by its own volition. Or perhaps worse, politicians fear that the many special interests involved could potentially be jeopardized by any substantive examination of the way Washington conducts its business.

This characteristic intellectual laziness among the political class is particularly troubling when it comes to the threat of terrorism, domestic or otherwise. We continue to fret over the Islamic terror effect while steadfastly refusing to even consider the cause of Islamic terrorism, making King’s hearings last week little more than another example of Washington’s typical grandstanding buffoonery. Yes, King and his allies on this issue are indeed right that the problem of domestic Islamic terrorism is a concern—but their ongoing blindness toward the primary cause of their concern prevents them from even attempting to examine this issue comprehensively. Peter King might as well have called for congressional hearings on the problem of teenage sex while leaving raging hormones completely out of the equation. And let us hear no more from Washington leaders who want to “keep us safe” until they are first willing to look at the policies of their own making that continue to endanger us the most.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Tony Bennett statement and apology about 911 as reported by ABC News:

Tony Bennett recorded “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in 1962, but with his recent comments about terrorism and the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, he left behind some controversy.

Appearing on “The Howard Stern Show” Monday to promote his new album, “Duets II,” the singer ended up discussing his military service during World War II and the impact it had on him.

“The first time I saw a dead German, that’s when I became a pacifist,” he said.

Sixty-five years after leaving his military life behind, Bennett has sold more than 50 million albums and developed some definite opinions about other wars involving the United States.

“To start a war in Iraq was a tremendous, tremendous mistake internationally,” he said.

Howard Stern then asked Bennett about how the United States should deal with terrorists, specifically those responsible for the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

“But who are the terrorists? Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Bennett said.

In a soft-spoken voice, the singer disagreed with Stern’s premise that the 9/11 terrorists’ actions led to U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They flew the plane in, but we caused it,” Bennett responded, “because we were bombing them and they told us to stop.”

One day later, the 85-year-old singer took to his latest stage, Facebook, and wrote, ” There is simply no excuse for terrorism and the murder of the nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks on our country.”

Bennett also cited his World War II experience as shaping his position that “war is the lowest form of human behavior.

“I am sorry if my statements suggested anything other than an expression of my love for my country, my hope for humanity and my desire for peace throughout the world,” he said.