Facets of Four World Wars
Forming a Strategic Resistance and the Fuller Catholic Witness
DR. ROBERT HICKSON
- Part II -
Michael Scheuer, a career Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency from 1982 until November of 2004, is also a scholar with a Ph.D. in history. But, though writing with a comparably keen intellect, the pervasive tone of Dr. Scheuer's Marching Toward Hell: American and Islam after Iraq (New York Free Press, 2008) is much more feisty and vivid and indignant and much more wholeheartedly engaged than The Transparent Cabal, Dr. Sniegoski's calm and respectfully analytic work we treated last month.
Scheuer is also at times charmingly ironic and even trenchantly sarcastic. He certainly sees that al-Qaeda is still a very dangerous strategic and operational network and getting stronger, as Osama bin Laden (with his key colleagues) so persuasively inspires the larger Muslim world against the arguably decadent and arrogant Americans who are perceived to be corrupting the life and even humiliating the core beliefs of Islam.
"Soft Power": Hypocritical Delusion
Scheuer is, in general, like Sniegoski, both modest and a Non-Interventionist, but he wants us to intervene selectively and very firmly where there is a clear and present danger posed to America's “life-and-death” National Interests, and to do so specifically against the virulent al-Qaeda network.
For example, in his sharp criticism of Professor Joseph Nye's weak and vacillating Liberalism and its updated concept of “Soft Power,” Scheuer says:
Once the Soviet System dissolved, America's practitioners and advocates of soft power [also called “public diplomacy"] ... took all too much credit for victory and began to see soft power as a potential future war winner. Truth to tell, had U.S. hard power and Moscow's belief that Washington would use it not existed, U.S. soft power would not have been worth Cactus Jack Garner's bucket of warm spit. In the post-Cold War world ... nationalism and religious faith have been reinvigorated with a vengeance. As a result, many nations, groups, and peoples - especially in the Muslim world - grew slowly resistant and then directly hostile to American soft power, seeing its attributes as something not to aspire to but to ward off for reasons of faith or national identity or both. Under both Democratic and Republican Administrations, however, Washington continued pushing the Cold War-era soft-power product as if the world had not changed after 1991, an effort at self-delusion that is supported by the tireless proponent of soft power, Harvard's Joseph Nye (70-71).
Revealing now some more elements of his own resolute orientation, Scheuer agrees with Mark Steyn's sharp words from his 2006 book, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, wherein Steyn acutely writes: “‘Soft power’ is wielded by soft cultures, usually because they lack the will to maintain hard power” (Steyn, p. 46; Scheuer, pp. 286-287). Moreover, says Scheuer:
To be fair to Dr. Nye, it should be noted that Washington's feeble use of hard power over the past decade [1991-2001] has perhaps created too much of a task for soft power to achieve. Our enemies [like al-Qaeda] no longer believe America will use its hard power in full measure, and so soft power does not have the hard-power partner - either in fact or in the foe's expectations - that fueled its success during the Cold War (286).
Though he emphatically supports the cautious wisdom and disciplined prudence of George Washington, Samuel Adams, and John Quincy Adams about alien entangling alliances and passionate attachments, Scheuer also sounds, at times, like a tough Neo-Machiavellian, but with a Non-Imperial and very strict notion of U.S. National Interests. For example, he says, that after 1991,
U.S. leaders either did not notice or lacked the courage to admit that large components of traditional American soft power were fast decaying. With the end of the Soviet threat, for example, both Western and Third World peoples became actuely aware of the lethal hypocrisy inherent in a soft-power approach that preached democracy, individual rights, and liberty, while the U.S. and Western purveyors of that approach ever more handsomely kept police states on doles funded by their taxpayers. Over time funding, protecting, and apologizing for the likes of Mubarek, the al-Sauds, and other tyrants eroded the moral suasion the Founders [i.e., American Founding Fathers] intended their disciplined, self-governing polity to exude (71 - my emphasis added).
In this context, Scheuer then quotes one of the Adams's from his speech on 4 July 1821:
In John Quincy Adams's words Washington was still able to “commend the general cause [of liberty] by the countenance of her voice” but because of her close ties to tyrants could no longer evoke popular support by “the benignant sympathy of her example.” Nowhere was this truer than in the Muslim world, where U.S. - and Western - backed dictators have suppressed their peoples since 1945 and have thereby built a wide and responsive audience for Osama bin Laden's demand for liberation from those tyrants (71 - brackets in the original).
America's Pagan Sewer
This enunciated word about “liberation,” it will be noted, does not yet even mention Israel - but that will soon come, as will Michael Scheuer's own sharp criticism of the U.S.'s entangling alliance with, and its inordinately passionate attachment to, the Jewish State, which he also sees as a kind of “theocracy.”
This religious State of Israel, he says, is also, ironically, supported by U.S. taxpayers who take special pride in their own emphatically Secular Regime: the separation of Church and State, or the separation of Synagogue and State, and All That. (Some, however, have noted only the further Subordination of Church to State and the Subordination of the State itself to the Money Power, or High Finance.)
Showing his further moral passion and unflinching critique of what the United States has now regrettably become, at least in its perceptible popular culture, Scheuer says the following, without yet more adequately specifying what he really means by “America's governing elite”:
America's governing elite also failed to acknowledge - this they could not have missed - that the popular culture component of the U.S. soft power was becoming increasingly malodorous. Indeed, since the  fall of the Berlin Wall American popular culture had come to stand in the same relationship to the Western canon of literature, music and art as untreated sewage to potable water (71 - my emphasis added).
Like the Cloaca Maxima - the Great Sewer of Ancient Rome - American popular culture appears to Scheuer as “untreated sewage increasingly malodorous,” and especially so to traditional Muslim cultures. Scheuer therefore adds:
Professor Nye has written that soft power “is the ability to get what you want by attracting others to adopt your goals,” but in an era of worldwide religious revival the combination of hatred for U.S. foreign policy and revulsion toward our increasingly pagan culture is a heavy and in the long run insupportable burden for soft power to bear and still hope to “attract” Muslims (71 - my emphasis added).
Islamist Motivation: U.S. Foreign Policy
But, what is this foreign policy which is so hated? What, especially, is the Muslim perception of U.S. foreign policy and why is it important? Scheuer, after presenting much evidence, says:
To date [mid-2008], much of the U.S. public diplomacy effort [hence also our “soft power”] has been conducted so as to avoid the issue of the Islamists' motivation .... [and] the main issue, which is the Muslim perception that U.S. foreign policy is an attack on Islam ... Ten years into the war declared by bin Laden [in 1996, against the United States], then, official Washington resolutely refuses to address the Islamists' true motivation; only a single member of America's governing elite - Ron Paul (R-Texas) - has publicly indicated that he has caught on to the reality that our enemies are motivated by U.S. foreign policy [toward Israel, Muslim “apostate” regimes that are also tyrannical; toward the Muslim holy sites and Muslim historic lands, especially Saudi Arabia and Iraq, which are occupied by irreverent infidels; and toward Muslim oil resources, which are, they believe, being looted, to the further detriment of impoverished Muslims]. Instead, U.S. government officials repeat that the Islamists hate America and are waging war against it because of our freedom, liberty and gender equality, not because of what the U.S. government does in the Islamic world. This claim is a blatant lie, bad for that reason but worse because it keeps Americans from clearly guaging the enemy's motivation and intentions, or bin Laden's enormous appeal among the world's 1.4 billion Muslims. Frankly, persisting in this lie amounts to a death wish (204-205 - my emphasis added).
Moreover, he says,
it is a lethal mistake for Americans to assume that because the Islamists would not adopt our society lock, stock, and barrel, they must surely be fighting to destroy it. Though incorrect in every conceivable way, this assumption is the one on which our governing elite is operating .... Now, if this assumption were true, there would be no point considering how best to change the hearts and minds of Muslims. If Americans are hated because they are Americans, the choice is black and white simple: we can completely abandon our beliefs, or lifestyles, and how we behave in the domestic, political, and social arenas to appease our enemies, or we can undertake the task of killing every Muslim because that is what they intend to do to us. This is an unpalatable choice between ingesting strychnine and ingesting arsenic, but there it is (205).
“Fortunately,” says Scheuer, despite “the seemingly permanent obtuseness of their elite,” there is another alternative, “a third option open to Americans” (206).
Scheuer himself has made “a careful review of the speeches, statements, and interviews that flow like a torrent from bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and other Islamist leaders” (206), and he recommends it to others. This cumulative evidence shows that the Islamist leaders “pay no more than lip service to what might politely be called our civilization's failings” (206), and “That we have such failings they leave no doubt, but they are never the focus of attention” (206). Whyso? Scheuer answers:
These men ... are all children of the era of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, and they all saw how the dour old Iranian failed to initiate a global jihad on the supposed threat from what he described as the debauched and degenerate society of the American Great Satan. Having witnessed that almost no Muslim was motivated to become a suicide bomber because American women compete with men in every field [or the like] ..., bin Laden and his colleagues focused on what the U.S. government does in the Islamic world. It also is producing a steadily growing flow of volunteers for jihadi activities, suicide and otherwise. The success of bin Laden et al. in this regard would have made the late Ayatollah salivate with envy (206 - my emphasis added).
Again and again, throughout his book, Michael Scheuer emphasizes that U.S. leaders must “recognize that bin Laden has much more effectually defined Great Satan-ness as U.S. actions overseas and not as the lifestyle of Americans at home” (206) and we must “admit to ourselves that we have been trumped and cornered by Osama bin Laden, who as the years pass increasingly emerges as a genius in waging a war of ideas and setting its parameters” (207). Indeed, Scheuer adds:
bin Laden has shown relentless consistency in keeping the Muslim world tightly focused on U.S. foreign policies and their impact on Islam and its believers. With the aid of al-Jazirah, al-Arabiyah, and the Internet bin Laden has kept these policies and their visible impacts before Muslims on a daily basis (207).
The U.S.-Israel Relationship: Undemocratic and Costly
Although “America's bipartisan governing elite” (xv, 25, et al.) should understand these matters of moment, and also act upon them for the greater common good, they do not do so. In Scheuer's sober and sound and somewhat discouraging words:
Such a grasp of reality and common sense, however, would be out of character for our elite. It would require senior members of the last three presidential administrations to recant most of what they have sworn to be true about our Islamist enemies' motivations, to take on the politically powerful Saudi and Israeli lobbies, and to begin to destroy the energy-policy status quo that works so much in favor of the U.S. oil industry and against American interests. It is a tall order indeed, and as is typical in the post-Cold War world, the U.S. government does not have a lot of time in which to recognize reality and begin to make these changes. Time is running out for the United States if it wants to start clawing back some of the vast amount of ground it has lost to the Islamists in the hearts-and-minds competition (206 - my emphasis added).
From the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the subsequent, punitive Arab Oil Embargo and on to 1996, when Osama bin Laden declared War on the United States, Scheuer sees a heavy accumulation of what “would prove to be paralyzing burdens on the United States when it moved to respond to the 9/11 attacks” (24). He compares the U.S. to Lemuel Gulliver, who is now constrained and bound, but bound down not so much by the “Little People,” as by itself and by its imprudent or craven acquiescences. Scheuer's piercing and succinct chapter-subtitle is, in fact: “Gulliver Recklessly Binds Himself” (50).
In Scheuer's long-range analysis, 1973 is a very important year. Therefore, at least part of what he says about the Yom Kippur War and its implications must be carefully considered, especially since even the somewhat anti-Jewish U.S. President “Nixon risked nuclear war with Moscow for Israel's sake” (25):
America's first major 1973 challenge flowed from the Arab-Israeli war of that year. Under President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the U.S. went to Israel's rescue during the Yom Kippur War by providing unlimited financial support and military equipment, as well as by standing toe-to-toe with the Soviet Union - risking nuclear war - to prevent Moscow's all-out support for Israel's Arab foes. After the superb and U.S.-resupplied Israeli military rallied to defeat the Arab armies, U.S. aid [especially through our Lajes Airbase on Terceira in the Portuguese Azores Islands] proved to be, not a stopgap, wartime measure, but the opening of a spigot through which would flow unlimited, no-strings-attached financial, military, and diplomatic support for Israel. As the level of this support grew, so too did efforts by pro-Israel Americans in both parties and large parts of academia, the media, and Hollywod - complemented by what can only be described as superbly effective covert political action by Israel's intelligence services - to entwine U.S. support for Israel ever more deeply and inextricably into U.S. domestic politics (24-25 - my emphasis added).
Comparing this “inextricability” to a “politically sacrosanct ‘third rail’” (25), which it is so immediately lethal to touch, Scheuer becomes even more candid:
Of all the foreign policy issues that have come before the American people in their history support for Israel was and is perhaps the only one that is certainly immune to challenge or change and very nearly exempt from comment, criticism, or debate. And Israel, of course, is not the real problem here. Reasonable people can disagree over what the nature of U.S. support for Israel - if any - should be. The problem lies, rather, in the reality that such disagreement and the debate it would naturally engender are not possible in America because critics of the relationship are shouted down as anti-Semites by the bipartisan governing elite and Israel's U.S. citizen acolytes and agents. The inauguration and domestication of the U.S.-Israel relationship surely ranks as one of the least debated and most undemocratic watershed events in American history, and one that is now costing us blood and treasure and will cost much more of each in the future (25 - my emphasis added).
Historical Ignorance and Intellectual Hubris
From the very outset of Marching Toward Hell, Michael Scheuer says:
This book ... is not an attempt to minutely analyze each event of America's post-9/11 war with Islamist militancy. It rather seeks first, to reconstruct how the United States found itself with an untenable set of foreign policies and national security strategies on the day of the attack on New York and Washington. And second, it tries to understand, explain, and assess the cost of the U.S. government's stubborn and obviously losing rearguard action to maintain these catastrophically deficient policies and strategies (xv - my emphasis added).
After extensive research into “the disaster of Iraq - and Afghanistan as well,” and “well before I completed researching,” he says, “it was clear to me that while I was definitely telling a story of unintended consequences, it most assuredly was not a tale of unpredictable consequences” (xv):
The unwinnable insurgencies we now face in Afghanistan and Iraq, the rock solid-hatred of U.S. foreign policy among a huge majority of Muslims and many non-Muslims as well, the flood of heroin entering the West from Southwest Asia, the rising tide of militancy across the Islamic world - surely, none of these were the intentions or expectations of U.S. policymakers. Only madmen and perhaps a few neoconservatives and Israel-firsters would have sought these consequences, but anyone with an average knowledge of history could have foreseen most of them (xv).
Whereas Dr. Sniegoski concentrates on a small Neoconservative Apparatus and its more revolutionary, destabilizing orientation, especially in the Middle East and in contrast to the traditional policy-elites' long-standing emphasis on balance and stability, Dr. Scheuer would, in part, disagree. For Scheuer sees that for at least the past thirty-five years - since the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the consequent Arab Oil-Embargo - “unrelenting intervention itself” has been, even after Viet Nam in 1975, “the lodestone of America's bipartisan governing elite” (xiii) - “an unquenchable ardor to have the United States intervene abroad in all places, situations, and times” (xii) - and now, he says, we face “the reality that America's bipartisan governing elite is both unprepared and unwilling to deal with the world as it is” (xii).
At the beginning of his book - in his Preface - Scheuer gives a composite description of what he means for the purposes of his book by “the term bipartisan governing elite” (xii) and what “mix of philosophies and tools” (xiii) it apparently has, and the “interventionism” that unites them, i.e., “the inbred set of individuals” who have formulated and executed “U.S. foreign policy for the past thirty-five years” (xii).
Even more emphatically, Scheuer then says about them:
Because of their profound and willful ignorance - there is no kinder or gentler description that applies - America has travelled a path that has seen the lethal nuisance originally presented by Sunni militants transformed into an existential threat that is poised to strike at the core of our social and civil institutions in a way that could change our collective lifestyle for many decades, perhaps forever.” (xii - my emphasis added).
Scheuer does explicitly honour, not the unwise U.S. leaders and their sycophantic “careerists,” but, rather, “the military and intelligence personnel, men and women, who serve, in military terms, at the level of colonel and below” and who have “scored victories since 9/11, but almost all have been of a tactical nature” (xvi):
These individuals have shown initiative, courage, and a deep and abiding concern for the security of Americans and their country. They have taken life-risking actions that more senior careerists would have avoided like grim death. They have helped defend America but have not advanced their careers. There is surely a story to be told about these heroic individuals who spent their blood to buy time for America, but it will not be told here. Why? Because their undeniable substantive and admirable tactical victories have not advanced America's strategic position in the war against al-Qaeda and the Islamists” (xvi) - “the Islamists, [who are] fighting in deadly earnest for fully explained reasons and limited objectives” (xvi - my emphasis added).
Throughout Marching Toward Hell, Scheuer examines in depth “the six U.S. policies bin Laden repeatedly refers to as anti-Muslim” and Scheuer convinces us “how easy it is for Muslims to see, hear, experience, and hate” these policies, which are also succinctly summarized in Scheuer's prior book, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (2004), namely:
1. U.S. support for Israel that keeps Palestinians in the Israelis' thrall.
2. U.S. and other Western troops on the Arabian Peninsula.
3. U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
4. U.S. support for Russia, India, and China against their Muslim minorities.
5. U.S. pressure on Arab energy producers to keep oil prices low.
6. U.S. support for apostate, corrupt, and tyrannical Muslim governments (241).
Scheuer recurrently emphasizes that,
While bin Laden delivered [at least since his 1996 Declaration of War] the clear and substantive message that the war he was initiating against the United States, and countries choosing to take its side, was a defensive reaction to specific U.S. foreign policies and their impact in the Muslim world, American leaders have since 1996 floundered around almost comically in trying to defend elements of American life that are not under attack (xiv - my emphasis added).
Bin Laden says: Stop supporting the tyrannical Arab police states that oppress and torture; Washington says: Freedom is on the march for Arabs. While bin Laden and his lieutenants must shake their heads in frustration over the blatant deafness of U.S. and Western leaders, they have taken full advantage of that self-imposed and possibly fatal handicap (xiv-xv - my emphasis added).
Revealing why he changed his original book title, From Pandora's Box, to Marching Toward Hell, Michael Scheuer says:
Given predictable consequences [of U.S. foreign policies and “negative events that have unfolded for America” therefrom], and assuming no malign intent, U.S. political leaders and policymakers from both parties between 1996 and 2007 must stand guilty of willful historical ignorance, a paucity of common sense, and as I have argued before, a disastrous degree of intellectual hubris. The interlocking of this historical ignorance [especially of Religious Factors], sparse common sense, and galloping hubris, is in all individuals, countries, and eras a fatal combination (xv-xvi - my emphasis added).
With this analysis by Michael Scheuer, who understands the Religious Factors - doctrine, morals, history, culture - and can also see reality “Through Our Enemies' Eyes” (also the title of his first book), the reader may also better understand Dr. Sniegoski's thesis, especially how Podhoretz, Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle and other Neoconservatives could effectively reorient and intensify an already-interventionist, American Imperial disposition.
In response to the incandescently specific objections and “fully explained reasons and limited objectives” of bin Laden and the Islamists, we see, says Scheuer,
the United States, grandly assuming inevitable victory over a foe that exists only in its mind. It was this stark reality that prompted me to retitle the book Marching Toward Hell (xvi).
Our “war against al-Qaeda and the Islamists,” despite some “tactical victories,” has occurred “within the context of a national security strategy ... that creates enemies faster than they can be killed” (xvi). It is a strategy, moreover, “which is the common handiwork of the first Bush, Clinton, and current Bush presidencies” and “finds America in a worse position today than it was on 9/11” (xvi). Indeed, he concludes, so many lives
have been squandered uselessly because of the arrogance - and ignorance - powered failure of their [American] leaders. It is the story of that failure that this book will tell (xvi).
Sovereignty, Independence and Freedom?
Much more than Dr. Sniegoski, Dr. Scheuer is concerned to correct American “errors” so that U.S. leaders and the rest of the elite would not continue “to grossly underestimate the threat that they faced from the Islamists” and “to deploy insufficient military force, and stand pat on untenable foreign policies, thereby leading to America's defeat" (1-2). Scheuer has also striven “to alert Americans to what I saw as an existential threat to the United States that was in some ways greater than that which was posed by the Soviet Union” (2). This new Islamist threat, he adds, is
more dangerous because it came from an opponent that was far less easy to define, one who, unlike the USSR, had virtues and a thoroughly human and egalitarian theology, and one that was all but impossible to contain and deter (2).
Therefore, he says, :
It would be better to face the unpleasant reality head on and recognize that the forces led and personified by Osama bin Laden are motivated and united by an ever-deepening hatred for the impact of U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world. Unqualified support for Israel, a half-century protecting and nurturing Muslim police states, and a military presence in Muslim lands - these were tangible, physical manifestations of U.S. foreign policy that are perceived by most - yes, definitely, most - Muslims as a concerted and deliberate attempt to destroy Islam and its followers (2 - my emphasis added).
Scheuer argues that “the only things U.S. foreign policy must do” are to
ensure the protection and promote the expansion of liberty and freedom at home, keep America as safe as possible from external attack, and serve as a model of responsible and humane self-government for those abroad who might choose to emulate it (2).
Acknowledging how his longstanding and consistently expressed public views have led him to be called an example of “raw America-hating, cowardly appeasement, anachronistic isolationism, and fierce anti-Semitism” (2), Scheuer says he has only been “putting forward a belief that holds U.S. national security interests to be a limited and narrowly defined set of life-and-death issues” (2).
Indeed, his recent research has led him to ask a very sharp question - especially since his third book proposes mainly to focus on the issue of “the United States versus the forces led and inspired by Osama bin Laden” (2) - namely:
Is the protection of U.S. interests and American citizens, and the maintenance of American sovereignty, independence, and freedom of action, any longer the primary, overriding concern of the U.S. federal government? (2-3).
He clearly thinks it is not so.
Coming to see the cumulative and permeating illusions of U.S. leaders - especially as to how “the cumulative impact of thirty-plus years of U.S. foreign policies in the Muslim world may have helped to motivate the Islamists who attacked on 9/11 in the name of their faith and brethren” (3) - Scheuer has concluded that “our elites seem afraid to look over their shoulders because the truth might be gaining on them” (3). A good metaphor!
The American Polity: Unique and Unexportable
The structure of Scheuer's book is clear and helpful for those who want to make an adequate grand-strategic assessment of the truth, in the longer light of history - and to understand why “the Islamists' fire quietly spreads” (147).
The book is divided into four parts:
1. Getting to 9/11 - Readying bin Laden's Way (1973-1996): America and the Muslim World.
2. Six Years of War (2001-2007) - especially Afghanistan and Iraq, about how history also applies to America with no exceptions and immunities; and about how America is being “bled white by history [still] unlearned” (117).
3. “Where stands the War?” (187) - “taking stock for America in 2008” (189); “Al-Qaeda and Its Allies Take Stock” (215).
4. “Where to from Here?” (245) - containing his eighth chapter simply entitled “A Humble Suggestion - America First” (242), and proposing a disciplined, highly focused concentration on American national interests: truly life-and-death issues. He closes with a grateful Epilogue, entitled “An Abiding Uniqueness” (267).
With shocking succinctness - even after his carefully prepared and sustained argumentation full of convincing evidence - Michael Scheuer begins his Epilogue with these words, which are sharply contrary to the views of Michael Ledeen and his insolently promoted export of “creative destruction”:
The single most important lesson to be drawn from America's defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq is really an exercise in relearning a reality that has gradually become opaque since 1945: American democracy and republicanism are unique and largely unexportable (267).
By saying that “American experience is unique,” Scheuer means something very plain and simple, and it is not an arrogant idea “often described and derided as ‘American exceptionalism’” (267). He merely means that the American Founders studied many of the “earlier republican polities,” and “not only to see how they functioned but also, more important, to understand why each one inevitably failed” because “man is deeply flawed and not a perfectible creature” (267). Like Samuel Adams (writing in 1771), Scheuer does not want our “fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors” - the special liberties of our country and civil constitution, for example - to be either “wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or [lest we be] cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men” (267 - my emphasis added).
That is to say, neither by force nor by fraud.
Nonetheless, Scheuer somewhat vaguely recommends that we always also be “reinforced by a bracing dose of Machiavellianism” because of our awareness of man's deeply flawed and wounded nature.
Returning to what he believes are our now irrecoverable defeats, he says:
At base, the United States has been defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan because U.S. leaders forgot or ignored the history of their country. The Founders clearly saw the undoing of their republic if its government became involved in efforts to install the American model abroad, even if such an endeavor was launched in response to requests for help from foreign champions of liberty and democracy (268).
He recommends, moreover, that “the memorization of John Quincy Adams's 1821 warning to Americans” should be, not only a required condition for graduation from high school, but also a required “recitation from each presidential candidate preceding each presidential debate” (268)!
In 1821, John Quincy Adams had said:
She [America] well knows that by once enlisting herself under other banners than her own, were they even banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. She might become dictatress of the world. She would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit (268-269 - my emphasis added).
Near the end of his carefully reasoned book, Scheuer applies this warning:
The results for America of “enlisting under banners other than her own” are now being played out in the mountains, deserts, and cities of Afghanistan and Iraq. In trying to install America's system [and our concept of “nation-building”!] in devoutly Islamic lands, U.S. leaders display an arrogance derived from an odd combination of ignorance and naĩveté. Ignorance, in not recognizing America's uniqueness or accepting that our political experience is not reproducible in a society characterized by the powerful pervasiveness of the Islamic faith, a creed whose believers hear a recommendation that they adopt secular democracy as an urging that they turn their backs on God (269 - my emphasis added).
By contrast, John Quincy Adams and the American Founders
knew the power of religion and the uniqueness of what they were creating; they successfully accommodated the devout and pervasive Protestantism of their countrymen in a way that allowed religious dissent and freedom, and they warned against the dangers of allying the unique new nation with foreigners, even those who claimed to be championing the same ideas (269).
For example, earlier in the book, Scheuer spoke of the states like Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan that are likely themselves “to become involved in an intracivilization[al] conflict in the Muslim world,” but, he adds:
That conflict need not involve the United States in warfare so long as oil supplies are not disrupted and Washington is wise enough to avoid allowing the Israelis to ensnare us into fighting their fight [also “with the indispensable and deceitful neoconservative assistance” - p. 122 ]. That, alas, is a very long shot (168 - my emphasis added).
Nonetheless, as Scheuer says, if the U.S. leaders (i.e., Bush, Powell, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice) had together - or separately
spent a prewar weekend or two with [George] Washington's Farewell Address, Alexis de Toqueville's Democracy in America, and The Federalist Papers, they would have quickly recognized the utter impossibility and irresponsibility of what they were about to undertake as a political project in Iraq and Afghanistan and across the entire Islamic world (269 - my emphasis added).
And - we say again - to undertake it “with the indispensable and deceitful neoconservative assistance” (122), as Dr. Sniegoski also has showed us so convincingly.
Afghanistan and Iraq: "Military Burlesque"
Throughout his book, Scheuer emphasizes, though in deft and various ways, that “the only organizing principle that is essential for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy: protect Americans, their liberties, and independence; maintain a domestic environment that cultivates liberty and equality of opportunity; and let no domestic interests or foreign countries stand as an obstacle to those objectives” (81).
Even a British historian - who is himself a “great friend of the United States” - Sir John Keegan had tried to warn us, and in light of the very painful British imperial experience, that “Afghanistan is ‘unstable, fractious, and ultimately ungovernable’ and urged Washington to steer well clear of a ‘general war and of policies designed to change the society or government in Afghanistan’” - and only, at most, to conduct some “‘straightforward punitive expeditions’.”
Keegan's essential advice, moreover, was “Get in fast, kill faster, and get out faster” (110), and he then quoted the British general, Lord Roberts of Khandahar, who wisely wrote to his own superiors “after the success of his 1878 punitive expedition,” as follows:
“It may not be very flattering to our amour propre [i.e., our self-love] ... but I feel sure that I am right when I say that the less the Afghans see of us the less they will dislike us” (110-111).
We must also remember, says Scheuer, that
bin Laden spent almost a decade before al-Qaeda was formed in 1988 developing working relationships with Pashtun tribal leaders on the Pakistani side of the border and with a galaxy of Islamic NGOs (most sponsored by Saudi Arabia or other states on the Arabian Peninsula) that first set up shop in Peshawar, then spread into Afghanistan, and over time established offices across Pakistan. Most of the latter remain active today [especially in Quetta, Pakistan, which is not far over the Afghan border from Khandahar], contributing to the ongoing Islamization of Pakistani society (111-112 - my emphasis added).
As he has already been doing for many years at C.I.A., Scheuer gives many more wise details of importance in his Chapter on Afghanistan and Iraq. And, therefore, he can modestly say:
None of the foregoing should be attributed to hindsight. It [i.e., what has now disastrously happened] is the result of conducting a war that is dominated by the policies formulated and actions taken by the history-challenged men and women of the U.S. governing elite (136 - my emphasis added).
Unlike Sniegoski, Scheuer does not let the U.S. generals “off the hook”:
In view of the willful historical ignorance apparent in Washington's Afghan strategy and operations [let alone the case of Iraq, which was a further “Christmas gift to Osama bin Laden”], it is important that Americans not let their political and military leaders off the hook of responsibility .... we must not allow them to evade culpability for their historical ignorance (115-116).
The military officers, for example, should have known that even the military genius of Alexander the Great soon saw the ill fruits of “some of the miscalculations he pioneered in Bactria [the Greek name for Afghanistan],” in the words of a Classical scholar, words which Scheuer aptly quotes and wholeheartedly endorses (116).
Later, Scheuer says that “as bad as these examples [i.e., Haiti, Somalia, and the Balkans] of past mediocre performances are, the coming defeats of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan will be much worse” (192). (We should note his unflinching and emphatic words: “the coming defeats.”) For example, in his subsection entitled “The Costs of Our Military Burlesque,” he says:
In projecting U.S. military power into Iraq and Afghanistan, we have proven once again that America's stunning ability to rapidly deploy military force abroad is an expensive and self-defeating exercise because U.S. political leaders have neither achievable war aims nor the intention to win. Most U.S. general officers, moreover, are unwilling to object to that reality, preferring safe routes to promotion that are paved with the waste of their soldiers' lives and their nation's resources. We have taught the Islamists that if they can ride out the initial U.S. air campaign - the childish shock-and-awe part - they have little to fear from the U.S. military. By 2008, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the host of Islamist insurgent groups in Iraq have rightly concluded that they have survived the best shot U.S. leaders decided to deliver (though certainly far from the best they could have delivered) and that they are now well along in the process of sending the U.S. military home with its tail tucked between its legs. To paraphrase Alexander Hamilton writing in Federalist 15, when our Islamist foes look on the post-Iraq U.S. military, they see not a genuine and irresistible military power but a mere pageant of mimicked military power neutered “by the imbecility of our government” (192-193 - my emphasis added).
Slightly later in his argument, Scheuer importantly adds: “A core tenet in al-Qaeda's grand strategy is that the United States and its allies, Western and others, cannot stand pains over prolonged periods” (198). That is to say, we are not ready or willing to endure a “protracted conflict” (in James Burnham's words), especially not a protracted struggle against a religiously motivated foe.
The Enemy's Standpoint: Double Standards
One of the most original and brilliant contributions Michael Scheuer makes in his book - in addition to his constructive suggestions about our need for domestic Border Control and our need for Energy Self-Sufficiency and a Strategic Focus in the Service of Strictly Defined National Interests (“Matters of Life and Death”) - is his very vivid Scenario, entitled “Assessing the Jihad Against America.” It is an imaginative and realistic Report from the al-Qaeda point of view, i.e., as seen through the eyes of our enemy. He presents this Strategic Report and Net Assessment on pages 226-244, and this chilling analysis constitutes the conclusion of Scheuer's formidable chapter, entitled “O Enemy of God, I Will Give Thee No Respite.”
The Report is addressed to “Al-Qaeda/ Headquarters” and is sent by one of its dedicated, infiltrated agents, now embedded in the U.S. capital city: i.e., “From Al-Qaeda/ Washington.” It is thus “an assessment of the war written from al-Qaeda's perspective” (225) and, once again, what he has written is very sobering. “It is an effort,” Scheuer respectfully says, “to follow General [Robert E.] Lee's rule of judging the enemy from his standpoint, not our own” (225).
Having professed already twice in his book to his being a Roman Catholic (eg., “a mackeral-snapping Catholic like me” - p.225), Scheuer nonetheless emphasizes the fact that the Founding Fathers, “confident that they were creating a unique system,” clearly “intended to produce a scheme of self-government applicable to Protestant, English-speaking America, not to all the world's cultures and religions” (268) - and especially not to those people “outside what has historically been called Christendom” (268). The question of the extent to which our Founding can accommodate other Faiths - even the integral Catholic Faith - is still a disputed question.
Perhaps without realizing it himself, however, Michael Scheuer's historically accurate statement suddenly reveals another strategic and cultural vulnerability of the United States in its current struggles to quench the quiet spread of “the Islamists' fire.” We should also include our current and coming, likewise difficult struggles to limit the comparably revolutionary spread of the Zionist or Jewish fire which ardently strives to enhance the security of Israel and the vulnerable (as well as powerful) Jewish nation, or International Jewry. (James Billington entitled his own important historical-strategic book, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith (1980), and his word “Fire,” as in Virgil and Dostoievsky, meant “Fever”!)
Recalling us to a sense of our own limits, Scheuer adds:
The American model is what it is, the American model. There is no boast or sense of superiority in that claim, but rather an estimate of the very real limitations on the applicability of the American model outside America and especially outside what has historically been called Christendom [i.e., the historical reality of Christian culture and Christian social order]. So clear are these limits that only the willfully blind or the politically reckless can miss them - both of which strike me as excellent descriptors for the contemporary American governing elite (268 - my emphasis added).
Near the beginning of his book - after quoting, as did Dr. Sniegoski, George Washington's Farewell Address - Scheuer had also said:
Is there a better description of the dangers America faces because of its governing elites' “passionate attachment” to Israel? Is not our adversarial relationship with the Palestinians and Muslims generally an example of the “infusing” into America of the “enmities” of Israel? And what better definition of the double standard that our Islamist foes cite is there than the “concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others” in the form of the constant U.S. Veto of any U.N. resolution condemning Israeli actions? (26)
A Final Note On Scheuer
Unfortunately, Michael Scheuer, a self-professed Catholic, has a deficient understanding of the Catholic Church's long, articulate doctrine of moral limits, as expressed in the Catholic Just War Doctrine and its disciplined and prudent criteria and standards of judgment, both ad bellum and in bello.
When one reads Scheuer's comments about the “Just War Theorists” (75-76) and “the just-war flim-flammers” (85), and the craven “Cant-Spreaders” (93), one is shocked by his relentless caricatures and his undifferentiated mockery (see also his pages 94, 195-197), especially his reluctance about “the doctrine of proportionate response” (76) and “discrimination,” which he considers both as “punch-pulling” and as “a mistaken notion of prudence” (19). He certainly thereby displays his underlying Machiavellian propensities and admirations, and especially in his insufficient attentiveness to the Moral Factors of War and Strategy.
For example, against the admittedly Invertebrate Liberals and other Craven Sentimentalists in the U.S. and Europe, Scheuer often reminds us of his sobering and adversative premise: “But humans are hardwired for war” (62). Nevertheless, he very rightly sees the dangers posed by what he calls “the Nuancers” (31,48) or “the Sermonizers” (48), i.e., the Liberal Poltroons who still too often “hand the weapons over to their own assassins.” And they especially seem to be doing this currently in Europe, in the “European Community.” Scheuer, for example, sharply criticizes their unthinking offer of asylum and the promiscuous hospitality now granted to their Islamic migrants or infiltrators:
These Islamist enemies of Europe and the United States gladly [have] accepted this mindless, Pollyanna-ish hospitality, took up residence, signed up for the dole [as in Germany], and quietly expanded their military, economic, proselytizing, and logistics networks. As always, Western leaders who operate on the belief that man is perfectible benefit only the enemies of the people they represent (96).
Furthermore, in his strong rebuke of Europe's delusions and self-sabotaging fantasies, Scheuer says:
In their utopian lust to make the EC [European Community] the temple of human rights, humane law enforcement, atheism, and multiculturalism, EC leaders refused to extradite convicted or wanted Sunni fighters back to their home countries if those countries had the death penalty (96).
These words would be even more fruitfully understood, if the reader would also read James Burnham's farsighted 1964 book, Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism, to include its important and later-added 1974 Afterword, published in the 1975 edition.
Scheuer continues his own analysis of our need for a focused combat and concludes with a firm warning about the use of Proxies and our current resort to the Privatization of Warfare:
Six years after 9/11 and sixteen plus after the USSR's demise, we [like the Israelis] are still looking for others to do our dirty work; we are, in essence, actively in the market for mercenaries, while forgetting Machiavelli's warning that mercenaries “are useless and dangerous ... and bring nothing but loss” [see The Prince, 40-41]. Machiavelli's solution? “Experience has shown that only princes and republics achieve solid success.” In other words, use your own military forces to do your own dirty work (64-65).
That is to say, don't imitate the British East India Company and its Neo-Feudal Arrangements.
Following that principle will also help us to limit our own military recklessness and infliction of injustice. It may even mitigate, if not forestall, further “Blowback.” It will also discipline us against being further - or any longer - “instrumentalized” by the Israelis and their “acolytes and agents,” as “useful idiots” for their special National Purposes. That is to say, for the purposes of what General Yehoshafat Harkabi called “Nationalistic Judaism” (See, once again, his important and candid Chapter 5, “Nationalistic Judaism,” in his 1988 book, Israel's Fateful Hour. General Harkabi's book, we may recall, was dedicated “To the victims of their leaders - Jews and Arabs.”)
In Part III, building on the current and historical understanding provided by Stephen Sniegoski and Michael Sheuer, we consider the insights and warnings of Patrick Buchanan apropos the twentieth century - or "The Jewish Age," in Yuri Slezkine's coinage.
To conclude next month
Facets of Four World Wars - Part I
Facets of Four World Wars - Part III
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