Anonymous [US counterterrorism analyst]
Beyond Five Stars–Epic, Poetic, Startling, Reasoned, June 11, 2011
I have been totally absorbed with this book, and I HATE electronic books. At the age of 58, if I can't hold it and flip back and forth and quickly check the index, and so on, it's just not a book. This is why I have encouraged the author, whom I know and respect enormously, to offer this book as an Amazon CreateSpace soft-cover hard-copy. It should certainly be translated into Arabic, Chinese, and other languages. This book goes into my top ten percent “6 Stars and Beyond.” See the others at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, under Reviews (middle column).
Right up front, let me give the author and this book my highest praise: both have INTEGRITY. Integrity is not just about honor, it's about doing the right thing instead of the wrong thing righter, it's about being holistic, open-minded, appreciating diversity, respecting the “other.” There is more integrity in this book than in the last thousand top secret intelligence reports on Afghanistan, all full of lies and misrepresentations.
As I moved through the chapters, each of the quotations resonated with me. Each chapter is filled with poetic and deeply educated turns of phrase–I completely disagree with those reviewers who confuse elegance with posturing. The author is one of the most educated, broadly read, open-minded, patriotic truth-tellers I know–right up there with Ralph Peters, Robert Young Pelton, William Greider, to name just a trio.
Here are seven core concepts that this book offers, and as I go over my notes I keep thinking to myself that this is a book that could easily be read a multitude of times and continue to offer new insights. It integrates multiple aspects of reality at multiple levels, and is for me a hugely absorbing and very timely offering.
01 Terrorism is a tactic, not a threat. Both the US and Israel have used terrorism as an overt tactic (their respective liberation campaigns, both from the British), and one man's terrorist really is another man's freedom fighter. The author is hugely successful at making it quite clear that those we consider terrorists are righteous in their own context, willing to die for their cause, and not at all the sterotypes that our corrupt media strives to misrepresent.
02 Terrorism is a form of warfare that is even more closely entwined with civil society as victim and civil society as supporter. Although I myself am furious over the illegal NATO bombing of Libyan civilians in Tripoli (Cynthia McKinney is reporting from there; I consider what NATO is doing to be a form of piracy or terrorism or extortion, take your pick), the key point here in the author's context is that a burning monk (Viet-Nam) or fruit vendor (Tunesia). I am fairly certain we will see a burning person in the USA in the next few years. A burning middle-class white male.
03 Islam and Christianity are vital players in the perpetual conflict between the oppressed and the oppressors–and in both instances, the oppressors are often either the top religious authorities themselves, or despots such as in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain who hide behind guns and religion while failing to meet their obligations to their publics. I am personally interested in what might come of the inter-faith summit that Pope Benedict XVI has called for in Assisi in October 2011, but am not expecting much in the absence of a decision for the faiths to agree that secular corruption is the primary source of all conflict. You can search for <Assisi Intelligence> to find my letter to The Holy Father on this point, and other references. On balance I believe that the Catholic faith is too heavy on dogma while Buddists are more adept at practice, with Islam falling in between. We also need to remind ourselves that in India Sikhs and Hindus kill each other all the time, religious conflict is not limited to Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
04 Islam is more of an identity factor than any other religion, and in an Arab world where there are twelve different versions of Arabic and CIA is stuck with Lebanese Arabic and often gets the others very wrong, Islam is the unifying factor, followed by Arab, with weak nationality a poor third. And of course tribal identity. The author takes pains to show that this is a much more complex and nuanced nature than, for example, secular white people where nationality comes first and Judeo-Christianity is a poor second if at all present.
05 Terrorism is above all a “public act” intended to have a deep psycho-social impact that strikes at the heart of the dominant power, in the ideal severely undermining whatever legitimacy might be claimed by that power. While I myself favor Gandhi's non-violent approach, and believe that Howard Zinn, Vaclav Havel, and Jonathan Schell are all on target in saying that guns cannot put down a people once the wall of fear comes down and they find their voice, the core point that the author presents across the book is how information technology–including YouTube–make terrorism so much more cost-effective and so inspiring on a global scale. He also talks about asymmetric costs, a point I made immediately after 9/11, when a $500,000 attack [regardless of what role Larry Silverstein, Dick Cheney, and Rudy Guliani played in making it worse and letting it happen] results in tens of millions (now trillions) being spent both foolishly, and in a way that merely increases the attractiveness of terrorism across time and spac.e
06 Terrorism is a tried and true method of warfare (not a threat in and of itself). The author has some riveting chapters on both Lawrence of Arabia (who started life as “Ned”) and the Jedburghs, both considered terrorists by those they fought. The author does not focus on the role that CIA has played in using fake terrorism to do regime change, the Philippines and Viet-Nam being two examples (as opposed to Iran and Guatemala, where Potemkin armies and money brought down legitimate governments). His bottom line is that terrorism and insurgency will be with us forever.
07 The conclusion of the book is one that I find startling and do not agree with completely, but do take very seriously. The author is utterly brilliant in his discussion of how the US prison system is the greatest training and recruiting ground for angry abused black males who convert to Islam and then make the second conversion to organized regime-change violence on leaving prison. This is a serious threat, but I for one consider the white rural blue-collar male–the Timothy McVeighs of the world–to be a much greater threat to the neo-fascist corporate state that we have now in the USA–a two-party pimp tyranny Of, By, and For Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Citi-Corp.
Below I list ten books that completely support this book, but I hasten to add, this book covers a great deal of ground, it is an EXTRA-ORDINARY read, and I am very pleased to see it offered at such a reasonable price as well as free online for web-based reading. I absolutely encourage all those who have the capability to consider this book as a candidate for translation into other languages. It is not perfect, but it is head and shoulders above the drivel that comes out of think tanks and average academics, it has been written by an analyst who has been deeply enmeshed in America's “Global War on Terror,” and who, in having deep integrity, sees so clearly that here in the USA Washington is not in friendly hands, nor are any of our cities and towns–in each, an elite is abusing power and practicing corruption on such a grand scale as to have destroyed the Republic in under a quarter century, beginning with Jimmy Carter, the first hand-picked Trilateral Commission (unwitting) puppet.
TYRANNICIDE The Story of the Second American Revolution
Harvest Of Rage: Why Oklahoma City Is Only The Beginning
Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America
Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle
Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism
Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition
The Lessons of History