Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit (now dismantled) and author of "Imperial Hubris", has been lauded by Justin Raimondo for a long time. I had read a few pieces of his and a few interviews with him, but what he said yesterday on the Sam Seder show was absolutely right on. He laid out what was wrong with American intertwining foreign and domestic policy with a clarity and succintness that one doesn't hear very often.
I'm going to transcribe a few of his comments below...
SS: How does, as a whole, the Iraq endeavor [i.e., the war] affect our safety in this regard? I mean, is this genuinely the central front in the "war on terror?" If we weren't "there" [in Iraq] would that free them up to attack us in the United States?
MS: No, I think that's kind of a canard that's been used by a lot of people...What Iraq has done to make it more dangerous for us is to accelerate the transition of bin Laden and al Qaeda into "bin Laden-ism" and "al Qaeda-ism." Instead of a man and an organization, we now have a philosophy and a movement...
...What we did by invading Iraq was to successfully accomplish the definition for a defensive jihad in Islam--an infidel power invading a Muslim country without provocation and then occupying it. It is something that lifts the onus from bin Laden in the sense of him calling the jihad because so many now well-credentialed clerics have said "Yes, we have to fight a jihad against the Americans because of Iraq...
SS: So it's almost as if he [bin Laden] no longer has to make the case, we're making the case for him...
MS:We've very much validated his argument, sir.
If anyone asks what we're doing wasting, yes wasting, American lives in Iraq, you can say that we are validating bin Laden's argument--we are proving his point. The "sleeping giant" is also very clumsy and slow-witted, as it turns out.
How to "embolden terrorists"
In other words, we are "emboldening terrorists" by continuing to occupy Iraq, not the other way around. The Boehners and the Liebermans of the War Party have it exactly backwards. But the pro-war crowd has really turned that truth on its head by continuously repeating that if we leave, we will look weak and like losers and terrorists will be heartened.
And the Boehners and Liebermans have it exactly backward on purpose--war is business and war is the health of the state, and right now business is the state and vice versa. Whatever the pro-war crowd warns will happen, the opposite will be true--and that's why they issue such warnings. They know that the insurgency is caused by our presence and would have no reason to exist if we left, so they say we can't leave because if we do, the insurgency will get worse.
And such pronouncements make sense on the surface, especially to Fox News watchers who don't have a clear understanding of the way we were lied into war in the first place.
Anyway, back to Scheuer and Seder, because the best is yet to come...
MS: ...When you claim you've killed 2/3 of the leadership of al Qaeda, it's both true and irrelevant. Al Qaeda is an insurgent organization that grew up in Afghanistan fighting the Soviets. It always makes plans to replace its leadership. That's one of the main activities they engage in is preparing for leadership losses. And so every time we kill or capture a senior leader, whoever replaces him has been an understudy...
I'm not sure that what any of what we're fighting is "terrorism." I can tell you, at least from the intelligence officer's perspective, if al Qaeda was a terrorist group, the CIA would have destroyed it before 9/11. It's an insurgent organization that's spread worldwide and the president keeps saying "We're gonna arrest them one person at a time"--we're never gonna get the job done that way. They're really more insurgents than they are terrorists and by calling them "terrorists" I'm afraid the American people have not gotten a clear view of the danger that threatens our country.
Insurgents, not terrorists
Exactly, al Qaeda are insurgents, not terrorists. That means if we don't fuck with them, they don't fuck with us. But as has always been the case, the label of "terrorist" is misused on purpose to conceal the racket of war. To call someone a terrorist is to try to de-legitimize, marginalize, and de-sympathize (and de-empathize) with the person or group so labeled.
OK, a little more, and saving the best for last:
SS: What does it mean that [al Qaeda] is a worldwide insurgency as opposed to being a terrorist organization?
MS: A terrorist organization by definition has to be a small organization that's very tightly compartmented...what we're looking at is, from southern Thailand to Chechnya to Afghanistan to Kashmir to the Philippines are a number of localized Islamist insurgencies, most of them driven by local grievances. But, bin Laden has been, by the impact of our foreign policy in the Islamic world, able to focus some section of each of those insurgencies against the Americans. And so we're facing threats on virtually every continent and ones we're just not equipped over the long run to defeat.
The Crux of The Biscuit
MS: Partially we're in a hole of our own making because for the last 15 years--at least--our presidents and policymakers in both parties have told the American people that "they hate us because of our freedoms and liberties and gender equality and R-rated movies" and that has almost nothing to do with this war.
The reason bin Laden has been able to focus these Islamist insurgents on the United States is because of the impact of what our government does in the Muslim world.
MS: Our ability to keep oil prices low, our support for Israel, our military presence on the Arabian peninsula, our presence now in Iraq and Yemen and Afghanistan. Probably most painful for the United States is our support for tyranny across the Arab world. The really spectacular hypocrisy between urging democracy in one place and supporting the al-Saud tyranny in Saudia Arabia is not lost, even on illiterate people.
SS: So what needs to be done at this point?
MS: Well, we're slowly turning into Israel at the moment. Because our leaders have lied about the motivation of the enemy, we are left with military and intelligence operations to defend ourselves. Once--if they ever get to the point, and I don't think it will occur until we get attacked again inside of this country--once they get to the point and say, "Well listen, these people are motivated not by the nonsense of R-rate movies and draft beer but by the fact that we're doing things in their part of the world," we can begin to discuss whether the policies we have and have had for the past thirty years are protecting America.
MS: Especially energy--everything is tied to energy. As long as we are dependent, and our allies are dependent on oil that comes out of the Persian Gulf, we are gonna have to support tyranny across the Arab world. And that keeps us locked--it leaves us with no options.
...We are not the main target of these people [al Qaeda and the worldwide insurgency]. What they've decided is that the tyrannies that rule the Arab world and Israel surive only because of the support of the United States. Whether or not that's true, that's their strategy. They believe that we're so much softer than the Israelis or the Egyptians or the Saudis, that they can drive us out of the area through economic damage to our country. And so we're not even the main target--we're just simply in the way of what they want to accomplish.
He said a few more things, but above are the things that just really caught my ear when I was listening to the podcast today. I'm exhausted...good night!