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Losing the fight
The New York Times reports on a soon to be published book, Imperial Hubris, by a senior (and current) CIA officer,
"U.S. leaders refuse to accept the obvious," the officer writes. "We are fighting a worldwide Islamic insurgency — not criminality or terrorism — and our policy and procedures have failed to make more than a modest dent in enemy forces."

The author says the threat is rooted in opposition not to American values, but to policies and actions, particularly in the Islamic world.
In warning that the United States is losing the war on terrorism, Anonymous writes: "In the period since 11 September, the United States has dealt lethal blows to Al Qaeda's leadership and — if official claims are true — have captured three thousand Al Qaeda foot soldiers." At the same time, he adds, "we have waged two failed half-wars and, in doing so, left Afghanistan and Iraq seething with anti-U.S. sentiment, fertile grounds for the expansion of Al Qaeda and kindred groups."

I agree with the thrust of this analysis and the book is probably rather incisive in this regard. However, a review of a previous book by the same author raises some questions. Purportedly, that book, Through Our Enemies' Eyes has some bizarre analogies comparing Osama bin Laden with Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine,
[B]in Laden’s character, religious certainty, moral absolutism, military ferocity, integrity, and all-or-nothing goals are not much different from those of individuals whom we in the United States have long identified and honored as religious, political, or military heroes, men such as John Brown, John Bunyan, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Paine.

The review does credit the author for his perspicacity in the overall sense though,
UPDATE: I’ve gone back and revisited the remainder of TOEE—the part which details the historical evolution of bin Ladin and his network—and would commend that portion to you. It’s easily the best one-volume treatment that I’ve seen on that account and does a superb job of crystalizing the nature of the threat we face, in a way that is still not grasped by most analysts even two years later. While Anonymous’ cutesy historical analogies and word games early in the book are annoying, he gets the threat analysis right.

I would also qualify the last sentence of my original post in that light as well. Anonymous’ goal is to convey the message that we’re not up against mere terrorists such as Hezbollah but rather against a global insurgency. He leaves unsaid in this volume how to defeat bin Laden, other than to basically say that we can’t do it within the constraints of political correctness and our desire to fight a war with minimal casualties—on either side. He makes allusions to Sherman’s “hard hand of war” approach, says that we’ve got to do what it takes. What this means, however, is left unsaid. Perhaps Imperial Hubris expands on this theme.

UPDATE 2: Despite the tone of the early chapters of the book and of the excerpts highlighted in the Guardian piece, Anonymous is equally bitter about the Clinton team’s handling of al Qaeda. His main theme is that THEY JUST DON‘T GET IT. Nothing I know about Kerry’s foreign policy indicates that Anonymous will be any happier with his handling of the war than Bush’s.

The review is highly recommended, as is this interview of the author on Talking Points Memo by Spencer Ackerman.

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