How to Lose the War on Terror: Another interview with the author of Imperial Hubris. "I donít know if we have to say we are at war with Islam, but I think it defies reality to say that a growing part of Islam is not at war against us. I am at a loss to understand how this far along into the bin Laden problem we can still be saying that this war has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with religion in terms of the motivation bin Laden, his followers, sympathizers, and Muslims generally feel to fight us.
Bin Ladenís genius has been to focus the Muslim world on specific U.S. policies. Heís not, as the Ayatollah did, ranting about women who wear knee-length dresses. .. The shibboleth that he opposes our freedoms is completely false, and it leads us into a situation where we will never perceive the threat. ..
In terms of popularity, it would be difficult to underestimate the growth in popular support across the Muslim world. Bin Laden has identified six specific U.S. policies that appeal to the anger of Muslims: our unqualified support for Israel; our ability to keep oil prices within a tolerable range for consumers; our support for people who oppress Muslims, i.e., Russia in Chechnya, India in Kashmir, China in Western China; our presence on the Arabian Peninsula; our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan; and finally our support for Muslim tyrannies from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. Bin Laden is a formidable enemy because he has recognized what are deemed by many Muslims, even those who donít support his martial activities, as threats to Islam. ..
I donít think we can win this war until we have a debate over what has caused it and recognize that it is in our power to win this war over a period of time or to fight this war forever. This is not a choice between war and peace. It is a choice between war and endless war.
People say we are going to do public diplomacyómagazines for Muslims. Well, as long as Al-Jazeera is broadcasting from Gaza and the West Bank live, 24 hours a day, no one is going to listen to the Americans. ..
[Getting bin Laden is] of decreasing importance as the years go by, but bin Laden has a genius: he has the only organization of its kind in the Muslim world. He has Muslims from multiple ethnic groups and they work together with a lot of friction, but they work together effectively. Weíve watched the Palestinians for 45 years. They are all Palestinians, and they canít go across the street together.
Without bin Laden, al-Qaeda initially will lose some of its cohesiveness because of his very genuine credentials as a leader, but al-Qaeda is now a very mature organization. It is into its second generation of leadership, and the second generation seems to be more professional and businesslike. Theyíre quieter." 11:46:21 AM