Book Review: Imperial Hubris

My long-awaited Book Review: Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror is up at Strategic Insights.

The conclusion:

Regardless of whether one is persuaded by Anonymous’ arguments with respect to how the war should be fought, it is hard to agree, even by his own standards, with assertions like this one: “Simply put, the enemy wants war and is not listening; he has no reason to listen, he is winning (253).” While he makes a powerful argument that the United States is no closer to defeating the Islamists than before 9/11 and may indeed be making things worse, wars are fought to achieve political objectives. As he notes, bin Laden has listed six of them. There is no evidence presented in this book that any political objectives are any closer to fruition. Indeed, U.S. sympathy for the Israeli cause vis-à-vis the Palestinian terrorists is higher than it has been in years; we have stopped condemning Russian atrocities in Chechnya and began buying their assertion that they are part of the war on terrorism; we are more tied than ever to Arab leaders who are willing to ally with us against the Islamists; and we have more forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq than we had before 9/11. It is true that we have drawn down forces in Saudi Arabia, although mainly to take the heat off the Saudi regime. Oil prices are up, although owing to increased demand from China and other factors rather than any policy changes.

Anonymous is an intelligent, dedicated man who has spent his adult lifetime studying terrorism, Islamist radicalism, and Osama bin Laden. As such, his insights deserve attention. His core argument—that we are fighting against a large, Islamist jihad rather than a discrete terrorist organization—is quite compelling. Many of the conclusions that follow from that premise, while exceedingly frightening and anathema to the current mores of American political culture, should be debated. My fear is that the powerful arguments he marshals here will be largely dismissed because of the sneering tone and style. It will certainly be taken less seriously by the key decision makers whom he insults than it would have had he restrained his desire to vent his frustrations.

The rest is at the link.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Published Elsewhere, Terrorism,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.