Imperial Hubris


Imperial Hubris

Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror

Michael Scheuer

352 pages


June 2004


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November 2007


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About the Book

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Though U.S. leaders try to convince the world of their success in fighting al Qaeda, one member of the U.S. intelligence community would like to inform the public that we are, in fact, losing the war on terror. Further, until U.S. leaders recognize the errant path they have irresponsibly chosen, he says, our enemies will only grow stronger.

According to the author Michael Scheuer, the greatest danger for Americans confronting the Islamist threat is to believe—at the urging of U.S. leaders—that Muslims attack us for what we are and what we think rather than for what we do. Blustering political rhetoric “informs” the public that the Islamists are offended by the Western world’s democratic freedoms, civil liberties, inter-mingling of genders, and separation of church and state. However, although aspects of the modern world may offend conservative Muslims, no Islamist leader has fomented jihad to destroy participatory democracy, for example, the national association of credit unions, or coed universities. Instead, a growing segment of the Islamic world strenuously disapproves of specific U.S. policies and their attendant military, political, and economic implications.

Capitalizing on growing anti-U.S. animosity, Osama bin Laden’s genius lies not simply in calling for jihad, but in articulating a consistent and convincing case that Islam is under attack by America. Al Qaeda’s public statements condemn America’s protection of corrupt Muslim regimes, unqualified support for Israel, the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and a further litany of real-world grievances. Bin Laden’s supporters thus identify their problem and believe their solution lies in war. Scheuer contends they will go to any length, not to destroy our secular, democratic way of life, but to deter what they view as specific attacks on their lands, their communities, and their religion. Unless U.S. leaders recognize this fact and adjust their policies abroad accordingly, even moderate Muslims will join the bin Laden camp.


Author Bio

New York Times and Washington Post bestseller Imperial Hubris was originally published anonymously, as required by the Central Intelligence Agency. Its author is Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, who resigned in November 2004, after two decades of experience in national security issues related to Afghanistan and south Asia. As “Anonymous,” he is also the author of Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America. Scheuer has been featured on many national and international television news programs, has been interviewed for broadcast media and documentaries, and has been the focus of print media worldwide.


“Pulls few punches . . . and gives us a fascinating window on America’s war with Al Qaeda.”—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

 “A fire-breathing denunciation of U.S. counterterrorism policy.”—Julian Borger, The Guardian

“Presents overwhelmingly persuasive evidence to buttress a host of significant and controversial arguments.”—Benjamin Schwartz, Atlantic Monthly

“A powerful, persuasive analysis of the terrorist threat and the Bush administration’s failed efforts to fight it.”—Richard A. Clarke (former national coordinator for security and national terrorism), Washington Post Book World

“Rare that a book can change the course of an international debate, but Imperial Hubris is just such a book.”—Marta Salij, Detroit Free Press

“A sprawling, erudite book on the origins and present state of the ‘war on terror.’ . . . Gripping.”—Publishers Weekly 

“No serious observer of the war on terrorism can ignore this scathing critique of the Bush administration’s policies.”—Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc.

“This book is so valuable, it hardly seems that any review could do it justice.”—Ralph Peters, author of Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace

“[The author’s] conclusions are as disquieting as his policy prescriptions are compelling. . . . Imperial Hubris is destined to become a classic in the field of counterterrorism analysis.”—Bruce Hoffman, author of Inside Terrorism

Table of Contents

Author’s NotePreface: “Hubris Followed by Defeat”AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Thoughts on the Power of Focused, Principled HatredChapter I: The Fatal Delay: 11 September-7 October 2001. Chapter II: An Ignorant Lunge To Defeat: The United States in AfghanistanChapter III: Not Down, Not Out: Al-Qaeda’s Resiliency, Expansion, and MomentumChapter IV: The World’s View of Bin Laden: A Muslim Leader and Hero Coming Into Focus?Chapter V: Bin Laden Views the World: Some Old, Some New, and a TwistChapter VI: Blinding Hubris Abounding: Inflicting Defeat on Ourselves - Non-War, Leaks, and Missionary DemocracyChapter VII: When the Enemy Sets the Stage: How America’s Stubborn Obtuseness Helps Its FoesChapter VIII: Preparing for War: Know the Enemy, Debate Everything, Kill the Generals, and Put Away the Warrants.Chapter IX: The Way Ahead: A Few SuggestionsEpilogue

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