Book Review with excerpts
By Harry Rosenberg
Two dozen contributors to this book add more than perspective; it adds new dimensions as well. Now, more than two years after publication, this book is still current. It reinforces our conclusions elsewhere that we must listen to bin Laden, and listen closely if we care what this man thinks. We should, for he does not think like we do. Until we know his thought processes, we cannot understand his tactical use and motivation of suicide bombers much less understand his ultimate strategy.
From bin Laden's words, his strategy seems sublimely simple. It has two goals: To rid the world of oppressive dictatorships and eliminate imperialism in all its forms.
Some excerpts follow:
|"The Iranis are never going to tolerate a Sunni-dominated state. Whether it would be war, I doubt it, but it may certainly bring unending insurgent-type activities, or terrorist activities supported by the Iranians. And on the other hand, the Saudis, the Jordanians, and the Kuwaitis are never, ever going to tolerate another Iran, another Shi'a-dominated state right there."|
|"Osama bin Laden's goal is not in the first instance either to attack us or to attack anyone else. His first goal is to incite the Islamic world and instigate it to fight against us."|
|"Where we have exported democracy is to places with a common heritage - i.e., the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Counter reformation - like Eastern Europe and the Spanish countries of Latin America. It is not working in Russia where we have no shared heritage. So the idea that democracy is an exportable commodity is, I believe, a little madness."|
|...If you suppress free speech, it becomes violent."|
|"Osama bin Laden's media strategy has succeeded in two ways. One, it spreads fear in the West. And secondly, it garners support in the Arab world. It has also failed in one very important way. If his aim is to reach the public of the West, no one is listening to his message."|
|"He gets the fear and he gets the anger. But he is not getting the people of the West to actuality listen to him."|
|"We have obviously declared war on terrorism. But our adversaries are pursuing a war of attrition.|
|"When we went into Iraq, we went into the Islamic world with the basic belief that our culture is exportable in regard to political forms, participation and the like. At the same time, we seem to have a very difficult time seeing the people who live there for what they are in their own terms."|
|"What really humiliates them [Muslims in Islam] is the fact that they do not think that it is right that we should be so strong and so wealthy and so dominant in the world and that they should not be."|
|"Ultimately it is going to be Shiite clerics and Sunni fundamentalists that defeat the phenomenon of Islamic extremism. They will destroy it; we will not"|
|"As a Muslim cleric once told me, bin Laden has 'the unprecedented genius to manipulate the interpretation of the Koran and turn some of the most popular verses into vehicles of evil and diabolic intention.'"|
|"One of the great mistakes, I think, that has been made is that we have not seen this as an opportunity to build."|
|"We need to change our profile in the region fairly dramatically, and we need to build our own tactical counter-terrorism capacity by working with others."|
|"We are only going to beat the jihadis if we act in tandem with allies who are prepared to work with us."|
|"The vast majority of people who have been arrested have been wannabes and not members of al Qaeda."|
These are just a tip of the iceberg of wisdom in this book. It is a classic. 24 speakers and numerous guests from the audience participated. This book is a must-read for Western citizenry. It does not second guess our military; it does second guess the US government and the Western media, both of which blow terrorism out of all proportion. Each organ would do well to research all angles of each issue before taking action.
RoadtoPeace lauds all participants and recommends this book highly for its penetrating insights.
Posted by RoadToPeace on Sunday, January 06, 2008.