On one level, these recent comments by a US terrorism expert in Australia are spot-on:
As pessimism grows in the US about Iraq, the American commander there has warned that the war will take many years to win and a former top CIA officer has told a Sydney conference that defeat is inevitable in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA’s bin Laden unit until 2004, said the West was losing the global battle against Muslim insurgents.
Mr Scheuer said the US and its allies had failed to commit enough troops to win and did not understand the grievances motivating Muslim insurgents.
“We in the West are fighting an enemy we have woefully chosen to misunderstand and to whom we are losing hands down and on every front,” he said.
Mr Scheuer said the US and its allies continually became involved in Middle East wars because of their reliance on Arab oil supplies and had little other interest in the region.
The US had tried “to do Afghanistan on the cheap” and that defeat there was “just around the corner,” he said.
The US and its allies have already experienced defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan. How much clearer can it be?
Mr Scheuer said there was no hope of bringing democracy to Iraq or Afghanistan without a much greater commitment to defeat insurgents.
He said the West’s biggest mistake in the war on terror was to ignore the grievances of Islamic insurgents.
He said Western politicians, including Prime Minister John Howard, deceived the public by suggesting that terrorists were motivated only by hatred for freedoms enjoyed in the West.
Mr Howard had “warbled” the “wildly inaccurate ditty” that the London bombers were motivated by a hatred of Western culture, Mr Scheuer said.
He said Al-Qaeda was motivated by anger towards US foreign policy in the Middle East rather than by hatred for Western culture.
That included the US military presence in the region, its backing of tyrannical Arab regimes and “unqualified” support for Israel.
Mr Scheuer said the United States needed to increase its troops and take a heavy-handed, “brutal” approach to beat insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan — or leave.
Mr Howard said he had not heard of Mr Scheuer.
“I don’t know who you’re talking about,” Mr Howard said. “A lot of people disagree with me on Iraq.
“My position is that we are there to help the people of Iraq give effect to their desire to have democracy. They’ve voted in the most fearful circumstances of intimidation to embrace democracy.”
Howard’s comments are comical, and can be ignored. Yes, Johnny, we’re in Iraq to bring democracy. Shame about the hundreds of thousands killed in the process, but Muslims are used to being murdered by the West, so surely they don’t really mind.
But Scheuer’s suggestion to increase troop numbers in current war zones will achieve little more than greater hatred of the US. He is undoubtedly correct, however, when he talks about the ways in which many Muslims in the Middle East view the West. I’ve seen much of this over the last months. There is little hatred for America or its people. There is utter (and justified contempt) for the US government.