May 19, 2006

Still an Imperial Dipstick

Devotees of this humble “weblog” know that we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” offer up a delightful essay each Sunday on Wizbang. Devotees of this humble ‘weblog” also realize that we have spent a few of our Wizbang lucubrations excoriating Michael Scheuer, the former CIA analyst with conspiratorial views on Israel.

We found discussing Mr. Scheuer’s work particularly fun because Mr. Scheuer himself deigned to respond to our Wizbang “posts.” And yet his reply to our most recent criticism of him struck us as so inept that we simply must mention it today.

In short, our “post,” cleverly titled “Imperial Dipstick, Part Deux,” offered Mr. Scheuer’s assessment of Osama bin Laden’s writings, and demonstrated why it was entirely wrong. In fact, we argued that it was so incorrect that one may reasonably suspect malign motives on Mr. Scheuer’s part. Either that or he’s a complete boob.

Here’s Mr. Scheuer’s assessment:

Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging a war on us. None of the reasons have anything to do with our freedom, liberty and democracy, but have everything to do with US policies and actions in the Muslim world.

By offering examples of bin Laden’s own writings and sayings, we demonstrated that this is utter nonsense. To be sure, bin Laden is no fan of “US policies and actions in the Muslim world,” but only a nincompoop would suggest—as Mr. Scheuer suggests—that this is the only thing motivating him. To this end, we quoted bin Laden’s irritation at the Muslim loss of Andalusia and his vitriolic denunciation of Jews. Such passages, we suggested, can be found throughout bin Laden’s writings.

This, we claimed, proves that numerous things have served as an impetus to bin Laden’s evil. And thus Mr. Scheuer, by focusing on American foreign policy alone, fails to understand bin Laden. Rather, he simply forces his own proclivities—hatred of American foreign policy and hatred of Israel—on bin Laden, and assumes that only they motivate him. Simply put, Mr. Scheuer fails to understand bin Laden because he insists that bin Laden is Mr. Scheuer.

To these arguments, Mr. Scheuer offered the following response:

Dear Sir,

Thank you again for mentioning my work. As it happens, the publishers of the volume of bin Laden's works that you mention took the so-called blurb from my writings without my permission or that of my publisher. You can check this point with my publisher, Potomac Books, Dulles, Virginia.

On the larger point, I believe that anyone who helps give Americans easy access to the speeches, interviews, and statements of bin Laden and Zawahiri performs a public service. Reading those words will help Americans to understand that the threat posed by al-Qaeda and its allies is much greater than our politically correct Republican and Democratic leaders have led us to believe. It will require the application of much more military power, as well as much greater policy cleverness to annihilate this enemy -- as we must. The will to take these actions seems to be resident in neither of our parties.

We are at war with al-Qaeda and its allies because of what we do in the Islamic world, not because of who we are or what we think. If we were at war for the latter reasons, we would be confronted by a lethal nuisance not a national security threat. What we do now is the problem, and victory in this war will hinge on how we react to that reality -- a reality which is simply a fact, and not anything like a value judgment. If we want to keep our policies as they are, so be it; prepare for a long and bloody war and get on with it, just stop our half-assed bipartisan governing elite from telling Americans that we're being attacked because we have elections and women in the work place.

On a final note, the publication in accessible Enlish-language volumes of the messages of bin Laden and Zawahiri, ought, I think, to be seen in the same light as the publication of similar volumes of the writings of Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Stalin. Publishing the Bolsheviks' writings allowed us to understand and ultimately defeat the threat posed by USSR. I often think that had a book called Mein Kampf been widely available in English in the 1930s, Americans might have focused on the Nazi threat much earlier.


Michael Scheuer

A rather longish and polite reply, to be sure, but not at all convincing. In fact, we think it’s the work of a man who is a surprisingly sloppy thinker.

As far as we can intuit, these are Mr. Scheuer’s main arguments:

1) The quote from my work you mention was used as a blurb without my authorization.
2) It is good that Osama bin Laden’s writings and statements are available in English.
3) American foreign policy is to blame for Osama bin Laden’s wrath.

This is pathetic. As any schoolboy could tell you, arguments 1 and 2 are irrelevant. Mr. Scheuer does not dispute that he wrote the words we quoted, and we never argued that bin Laden’s words shouldn’t be available in English.

Argument 3 is merely a restatement of the position we originally criticized. And—significantly—Mr. Scheuer offers no response to our criticism. Presumably, this is because his argument is extremely weak. As another “commenter,” OregonMuse mused: “So instead of attempting to answer or refute the proffered evidence, Mr. Scheuer just repeats his original assertion. How disapppointing.”

That’s reason enough, we think, for Michael Scheuer to be treated like an unserious thinker.

Posted at May 19, 2006 12:01 AM | TrackBack