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Dictatress of the World
Studying Imperial Hubris with Michael Scheuer
© 2012 James LaFond
My impatience with politics is largely vested in my study of history. If you are a person who reads much non-fiction you know how lonely that picture window into reality is. My roommate for instance, reads five books per week, by my unofficial count. That makes him an informed member of the electorate. This results in his being disgusted much of the time, as he is forever surrounded by relative idiots who hold baseless opinions. Even if I might disagree with his ideology we can have an informed, and mutually enlightening, conversation about our differences; actual discourse, a concept at odds with the modern American mindset.
The frightening thing is, that man downstairs that I often disagree with, reads more in a week than virtually everyone else I know combined will read in a lifetime. This level of ignorance makes for a herd-like society; a society that sends its children to die in unknown lands, battling misunderstood enemies, who hold unfathomed beliefs, to line the pockets of some degenerate, and the evil men he lunches with...
I have been trying to stay away from reading on foreign policy and current affairs. It is about as inspiring to peer through the transparent lies gnawed on by the witless debating puppets in newsprint, on TV, and over the airwaves, as the first five minutes of the banal sitcoms I grew up watching. What’s the point of tuning in to a fight you know has been rigged by the promoter? I have been tempted though, by the book I am about to review, over the past year, as I have walked by it, the title beckoning. I knew from the cover that the subject concerned the American-Islamic World War that is already nearly a generation old and will probably outlast us all. I have been avoiding reading on the subject until after I finish reading the Koran for the second time—and let me tell you, it is a hard read for an individualist like me.
It was my own self-curiosity that snared me, and ate five hours of my life. You see, I recently accused the nation of my birth of being an empire, right in this blog—and Mom might actually read it and shake her pretty head. Knowing that the author of the book I had been slinking by for the past 15 months had a Ph.D. in history, and was once employed by one of the most evil institutions on earth, I was intrigued that he seemed to agree with my paltry opinion on the very cover of his book. As my readers well know, any author that impinges on my curiosity and takes me away from my precious research will pay for his imposition here, in my own little dictatorial corner of the virtual world…
Imperial Hubris
Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
Michael Scheuer, Potomac, Washington, D.C., 2004, 313 pages
My friend told me this was a good book but it was dated. Yes, some of the surface topics were actually dated, and you might say could use an update, as in a list of Islamic and American military successes and setbacks since 2004. However, this book discusses issues that I regard as timeless, at least where the lifespan of humanity is concerned.
Why do you wage war?
How do you wage war?
How do you assess your enemy?
This book is about war, particularly the type of war that has been waged by commercial empires like Athens, Britain and America, ultimately to their detriment. Make no mistake, the author is a barbarian on many levels, a fan of such war winning brutes as Grant, Sherman and Halsey [the WWII admiral that wanted Japanese to be “spoken only in Hell”]. This is not some peace-and-love hippie brat living off the earnings of the “Greatest Generation”.
Scheuer was a CIA analyst and manager, who seems to believe that America deserves everything it can squeeze from the lesser corners of the world. He’s not just a patriot though. He has a governor; the historian in him. He clearly admits that our nation, the world-straddling monstrosity that he worships and that Islamic determinists hate, is run by fools. He gives grudging respect to our nation’s most virulent enemies, and defines them for us. If you want to understand why over a billion people hate us because we are Americans, than read this book.
The writing style is tough if you’re into business or fiction, newspapers or magazines. It is essentially academic—but on fire. I could see this guy lighting up his queasy geek counterparts over a round table like the Dark Lord himself, turning lesser minds to ash. Despite the passion—or perhaps because of it, be prepared for page-long paragraphs. This probably has something to do with why establishment geeks misread his message. He even questions his own writing ability in the epilogue.
I particularly like the author’s grasp of American history. His selection of John Quincy Adam’s as a voice out of the past was genius—and troubling for me, as he is also my favorite early American. The author also seems to hold Woodrow Wilson, who he rightfully calls a ‘bloody-handed fantasist’ in particularly low regard. Again, I am left agreeing with a man who believes in the CIA! If Scheuer and I had a time machine I guess our fantasy daytrip would include lunch with Adams and dinner under the tree that Wilson’s corpse hung from.
Look, if you are an idiot or a fanatic, don’t read this book. If, however, you feel somehow that you have been mislead by those who are leading you into the generations-long night of religious war that our ancestors largely managed to escape by getting the hell out of Europe, than give it a read. It is not meaningfully dated, even though it is a foreign policy rant. It also puts the lie to its own subtitle, as the author makes it clear that the U.S. is not fighting criminal terrorism, but a world-wide religious insurgency. Whether you are a nominally Christian liberal or an actual Christian conservative, you might want to know what our professional military is up against, and why it is not what your ‘public servants’ in D.C. say it is.
Look, if you are a fight fan, this is the biggest thing since WWII. I’m betting on an Islamic victory late in this century. I hope my grandchildren can find the stakes holder and collect.
Note: the title, ‘Dictatress of the World’, was taken from a quote by Scheuer of John Quincy Adams, from a speech given in 1821; a warning to America, not to impose her values on others, lest she become that which she had so recently freed herself from; an empire.
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