Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has two very interesting interviews. One was done on January 8, 2007 with former CIA analyst and author Michael Scheurer. The other interview from December, 2006 is with Bruce Hoffman, an expert on terrorism at Washington's Georgetown University and the author of "Inside Terrorism,"
Scheurer's interview is an interesting read. In it, he says "...I think America is defeated in Iraq." Not only in Iraq, but also, he thinks in Afghanistan too. He says, this is why he wrote his forthcoming book, "From Pandora's Box: America and Militant Islam After Iraq."
In the short interview, Scheurer says:
"...the war we're fighting against Al-Qaedaism is a more serious problem than we have imagined to date. And that it has much more to do with religion than anyone in power is willing to talk about."
Scheuer: The primary goal of Al-Qaeda and the movement it has tried to inspire around the world has been to create Islamic governments in the Islamic world that govern according to their religion. And bin Laden's view on this is that those governments -- the government of Egypt, the government of Saudi Arabia, the government of Jordan, Algeria, right down the line -- only survive because the United States protects them, and Europe protects them. Either with money, diplomatic and political support, or military protection.Both Scheurer and Hoffman state that US presence is an irritant in the Muslim world. Well, duh, but I do agree with Hoffman on a couple of points. One: The first step toward democracy is providing security. And two: It's not enough to "clear"; you must be able to "hold."
And bin Laden's goal has been to simply hurt the United States enough to force us to look at home, to take care of things here, and thereby prevent us from supporting those governments, which he -- and I think the vast majority of Muslims -- regard as oppressive police states.
Once America is removed from that sort of support, Al-Qaeda intends to focus on removing those governments, eliminating Israel, and the third step, further down the road: settling scores with what the Sunni world regards as heretics in the Shi'ite part of the Islamic world. So his vision for the world, and the vision they're pursuing, is a very clear and orderly one, at least from their perspective.
RFE/RL: Tell me about the book you're working on, it's called "From Pandora's Box: America And Militant Islam After Iraq." What does that title mean?
Scheuer: Well, the Bush administration, the media, [and] the Democrats have talked a lot about the unintended consequences of invading Iraq. And the book is basically an effort to say: yes, there have been unintended consequences -- but they weren't unpredictable consequences.
What I'm trying to describe in the book is that we just have a simple failure here to understand our enemy and the world we deal with.
RFE/RL: And the use of the phrase "after Iraq" refers to a time when the United States is no longer in that country?
Scheuer: The book is written because I think we're defeated in Iraq. I think we're simply looking for a way to be graceful about the exit, but it's going to be very clear to our opponents in the Islamic world that they've defeated the second superpower.
They defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan; they've defeated us in Iraq; and it looks very likely that they'll defeat us in Afghanistan. And so Iraq, for all intents and purposes, as far as our enemies are concerned, is over.
RFE/RL: The Taliban has made a strong comeback in Afghanistan. Are we losing the war on terrorism in that country, which is the first place the United States intervened after 9/11?
Hoffman: Well, certainly, there's been an enormous backsliding in Afghanistan. Not only a spike in insurgent activity, but suicide terrorist attacks, which were unheard of in Afghanistan, are now multiplying with a singularly disturbing frequency.
I think Afghanistan is demonstrating, just as Iraq has, that it's not enough to have forces there that do the clearing. They also have to do the holding, which means you have to have sufficient forces that can provide security and stability for the population so they're not preyed upon by the insurgents, so that they feel confidant in the government's ability to discharge the fundamental expectations that citizens throughout the world have of their governments -- that's to protect them and defend them, to provide security so they can get on with their lives, so that they can engage in daily commerce, so that they can socialize.
That I see as one of the biggest threats, and why our adversaries think they will eventually triumph, because they feel that they can eventually wear us down, or that we can't protect every target all the time, or they believe they have the impunity to strike anywhere, at any time.
Two more opinions in a world full of opinions. I don't know anything about Hoffman, but I respect Scheurer's opinions. Not that I agree with everything he says, but by and large I find him to be very reasonable and measured. That's why his opinion of the outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan is such a bummer. As I have said before, the coming years will see terror attacks and little hot wars on the frontiers between Islam and its intended victims ala Somalia and Ethiopia. That is until, some fool gets his hands on a nuclear device.