The elite in denial over causes of the war

Michael Morell had a 33-year career at the CIA, rising to both deputy director and acting director.
He has written a book,
The Great War of Our Time:
The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism – From al Qa‘ida to ISIS
published in 2015.
It is an interesting and worthwhile account of his experiences dealing with some of America's most difficult challenges that involved the CIA,
notably the terrorism threat and reality and the various wars the U.S. has been involved in in the Islamic world since 9/11/2001.
Based on what he writes, and from what little I have read about him in newspapers,
I have the greatest respect for him in all respects.
I can certainly find nothing to object to in what he writes,
with one exception:
What seems to me to be a failure common to those who serve in leadership roles in America today,
to describe accurately the reasons why so many Muslims are willing to die to express their opposition to America.
I am with Michael Scheuer, not with his near-contemporary and superior, Michael Morell,
on the reasons for that opposition.

To be specific about what Mr. Morell says,
and my objection to it,
I need to quote from his book.
I truly hate to do anything that would violate his rights of copyright,
but I think the issue I am raising is of sufficient public importance,
and illustrates a problem common not just to him,
but which is practically endemic
in America's decision-making and opinion-leading classes,
that it is worth showing exactly what he said,
exactly what I am taking exception to it.

So, the following, between the horizontal rules,
is an excerpt, about a page and a half in the original,
from its penultimate chapter, “The Long War Ahead”, pages 302-304.
The emphasis added by boxing part of the text
has been added by the author of the current blog
to show what I take objection to.

In this chapter I [Michael Morell] want to give you—
the readers of this book—
a briefing on the terrorist threat we are facing,
and I will do it as if I were speaking to a president of the United States,
albeit with unclassified information.
The key questions are
what is the threat today,
where is it going, and
what should the United States do about all of this!
Because CIA does not recommend policy,
this latter question is not something an intelligence officer would normally brief to a president, but, given the importance of the issue,
I will do it here in this book.


Let’s start the briefing with two overarching points.
First, extremists inspired by Usama Bin Ladin’s ideology consider themselves to be at war with the United States and they want to attack us—and neither of these two facts will change anytime soon.
It is important to never forget that—no matter how long it has been since the last attack here in the homeland.

Second, in the post-9/11 fight against these terrorists, we have scored a great victory, but so have the extremists.
Our great victory has been the severe degradation and near defeat of al Qa‘ida’s core leadership, still located in the tribal areas of Pakistan, the group responsible for the terror that occurred on that bearutiful, bright sunny day in September 2001.
The degradation has been so severe that al Qa‘ida in Pakistan no longer has the capability to conduct a 9/11 style attack—multiple, simultaneous, complex attacks that kill thousands.

Al Qa‘ida’s great victory has been the spread of its ideology, its franchising, across a geographic area that now runs from northern Nigeria north into the Sahel, primarily in northern Mali, and across North Africa from Morocco to Algeria to Tunisia to Libya and Egypt; that includes parts of East Africa, primarily in Somalia but also in Kenya; that stretches across the Gulf of Aden into Yemen and up to Iraq and Syria, still in South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh), and in some parts of Southeast Asia.
All told, some 20 countries now have groups of terrorists inside their borders espousing the jihadist ideology.

This spread began because of Bin Ladin’s successes
in East Africa, Yemen, and the United States
(the embassy bombings in 1998, the Cole bombing in 2000, and 9/11).
These al Qa‘ida victories created a following for Bin Ladin
across the Muslim world.

He became a role model.
The spread was given a boost by the operatives who fled South Asia after 9/11 and by Muslim opposition to the Western interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan—just as Bin Ladin had hoped.
But the spread of the al Qa‘ida brand has been given perhaps its most significant lift as a result of the Arab Spring, which created safe havens in which al Qa‘ida could operate and that provided the franchises with much-needed recruits, money, and weapons.

My [KHarbaugh's] objection to what is in the box above?
In my opinion,
it is not “Bin Ladin’s successes” that caused the spread of al Qa‘ida’s ideology, etc.
It is the actions of the United States itself that have caused and will continue to cause opposition to the United States.
Truly, we are creating our own enemies by our actions.
An interesting point Morell discuses at some length in his book
is whether U.S. drone attacks are killing innocents as well as targeted terrorists.
If I read him correctly, he believes he has the evidence that
many, if not most, of the claims of innocent victims, of collateral damage,
have been fabricated.
Frankly, I have little doubt that he is right in many such cases.
But in all cases? Hmmm...
I am not omniscient, but know it is extremely difficult to be perfect in deciding just who to kill.
Perhaps it really is better to minimize our involvement in the Muslim world,
let Muslims decide for themselves who should rule them and how,
and make the defense of America run through the oceans which border it,
not through the deserts and cities of the Muslim world.
Maybe it is better to leave the Muslim world to the Muslims,
and try to keep the Western world ruled and governed as it has traditionally been.
And tell the multiculturalists to go to Hell.

Later in the chapter, on page 319, Mr. Morell adds
(but I have added a comment and emphasized some of his words:

All of the above is necessary,
but it is not enough to win the war over the long term,
as more and more terrorists are created every day.
To win the war over the longer term,
we and our allies must address the issues that create terrorists in the first place.
We must address the disease as well as the symptoms.
We must undermine the jihadist appeal to disenchanted young Muslims.
[Wait a minute, Mr. Morell.
How about the appeal to pious Muslims,
who do not want to see their region run according to
the values of, say, the Washington Post editorial page?]

We must discredit the terrorists’ narrative that
hatred and violence are the only mechanisms
for dealing with the modern world
and the resulting pressures on Islam.

Back to comments by KHarbaugh.
Is it really so necessary to drag Muslims into the value systems
that I think "the modern world" is referring to?
Is it necessary for the U.S. to impose its values on Muslims by force?
I, for the sake of the God I believe in, think and hope not.
Live and let live should be the United States philosophy,
or, in words I hope Mr. Morell knows,
the well-known 1824 speech of then-Secretary of State John Quincy Adams
should be our creed.