A new book, written anonymously by a senior CIA official with 22 years of service, claims that the war in Iraq is the wrong war, that is has detracted from the war against terrorism and played into Osama bin Laden’s hand.
I’m not sure how much you can trust a person who hides behind anonymous. That said, in this interview with NBC News Correspondent Andrea Mitchell he makes some interesting comments about the failures of U.S. policy and suggests that instead of weakening Islamic fundamentalism we are in fact strengthening it.
But we are — we remain in a state of denial about the size of the organization we face, the multiple allies it has, and more importantly probably than anything, the genius of bin Laden that’s behind the movement and the power of religion that motivates the movement. I think we are, for various reasons, loath to talk about the role of religion in this war. And it’s not to criticize one religion or another, but bin Laden is motivated and his followers and his associates are motivated by what they believe their religion requires them to do.
I think the, the bureaucracy at the senior levels in the intelligence community is selective in what they take to the president. I think they are loath to describe the dire problem posed by bin Laden for a number of reasons. One of them is basically political correctness. It’s not career-enhancing to try to engage in a, in a debate about religion and the role it plays in international affairs. And so we, we, we address bin Laden from the perspective of law enforcement, picking them off one at a time, arresting them, killing them. And I think that’s a, the, the, the result of no one frankly discussing the size of the problem or the motivation behind the problem.”
“I’m certainly not an expert and neither am I a Muslim. I think the appeal that bin Laden has across the Muslim — I indeed think he’s probably the only heroic figure, the only leadership figure that exists in the Islamic world today, and he does so because he is defending Muslims, Islamic lands, Islamic resources. From his perspective it’s very much a war against someone who is oppressing or killing Muslims.
“And the genius that lies behind it, because he’s not a man who rants against our freedoms, our liberties, our voting, our — the fact that our women go to school. He’s not the Ayatollah Khomeini; he really doesn’t care about all those things. To think that he’s trying to rob us of our liberties and freedom is, I think, a gross mistake. What he has done, his genius, is identify particular American foreign policies that are offensive to Muslims whether they support these martial actions or not — our support for Israel, our presence on the Arabian Peninsula, our activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, our support for governments that Muslims believe oppress Muslims, be it India, China, Russia, Uzbekistan. Bin Laden has focused the Muslim world on specific, tangible, visual American policies.
There are many other interesting comments in this interview and I recommend that you read it in its entirety. It think its particularly telling that he’s written the book anonymously (becuase he fears for his job?), apparently with the approval of the CIA, and it suggesting that top government officals are afraid to openly discuss the role that religion plays in this war with George Bush. Why might that be?