Bookmarks Issue: 

Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror

A-ImperialHubrisIn this explosive book, an unnamed veteran CIA official claims that U.S. officials have both underestimated and mishandled the threat posed by bin Laden. We think that Al Qaeda and Islamic insurgents hate us for who we are. Instead, they hate us for what we do. We believe we’re wiping out the terrorist network. Instead, it’s gaining in both strength and numbers. Worst of all is our blindness to our own actions. Simply put, U.S. policies, from keeping troops on the Arabian Peninsula to occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, have threatened Muslim religion and culture on its own soil. And if we don’t change these policies, Al Qaeda will strike again—and our bloody confrontation with Islam will incur even greater human and military costs.
Brassey’s. 320 pages. $27.50. ISBN: 1574888498.

Detroit Free Press 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Rare is the book that can change the course of an international debate, but [this] … is just such a book. … I thought I’d read widely on Al Qaeda and terrorism … and yet Anonymous’ well-organized and data-backed arguments gave me a new framework to consider our threats." Marta Salij

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"It is a powerful, persuasive analysis of the terrorist threat and the Bush administration’s failed efforts to fight it. … Since Imperial Hubris is an important contribution to a necessary debate, we should be grateful to the agency for that clearance—and for its anonymous author’s considerable courage and insight." Richard A. Clarke

New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"… an assessment of America’s war on terror that is bound to provoke large heapings of controversy, on both the right and the left, among hardliners on Iraq and critics of the administration alike. … It is a book that not only slings all manner of arrows at America’s political, military and intelligence establishment (going back to the mid-70s, with the qualified exception of President Ronald Reagan and his C.I.A. director, William J. Casey), but a book that also calls for a complete re-evaluation of the nation’s foreign policy toward Muslims and the Middle East." Michiko Kakutani

Critical Summary

Anonymous author of 2002’s Through Our Enemies’ Eyes headed the CIA’s bin Laden unit between 1996 and 1999, but has little to say about his experience there. Instead, he’s saved his venom for recent CIA leadership and American administrations, whose hubris has blinded them—us—to increasing threats from the "Islamic insurgency." Despite concealing his sources and lumping all Muslims together, Anonymous offers persuasive reasons for why we’re losing the war on terror. He debunks the idea that bin Laden is a marginalized terrorist; most Muslims instead see him as a "practical warrior." And he offers compelling evidence for why we should fight the insurgents with ideas, not weapons. This authoritative book will stand out among its peers for its sheer intelligence and terrifying questions. (See our previous round-up of books on terrorism and Iraq, "Rethinking Iraq," July/Aug 2004.)


The Sunday Times from London and other sources have revealed that the author of Imperial Hubris is Michael Scheuer, a "lifelong Republican." He and his staff were known as the "Manson family" within the agency for their seeming groundless obsession with bin Laden prior to 9/11. Though the author would like his name to be public, the CIA has refused. The Agency cannot stop its agents from publishing books, but it can ensure that names are withheld and that no classified information or methods are included.