Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Michael Scheuer: terrorists should focus on Israel, not the U.S.

In an interview televised on C-SPAN on January 4, former CIA bin Laden Unit Chief Michael Scheuer advocated that the United States should "dissuade" terrorists from focusing their anger on the U.S. by "persuad(ing) them to focus their anger on what they themselves perceive as their enemy: the governments that ... oppress them and Israel". His comment is viewable at 10:30 of the below-linked video:

C-SPAN Video Player - Michael Scheuer, Former CIA Bin Laden Unit Chief (1996-99)

Following this modest proposal to throw Israel to the wolves, Scheuer received the following grossly anti-Semitic question from a caller called John from Franklin, NY who identified himself as a political independent (viewable at 15:00 of the above-linked video). Question and answer are presented below in their entirety. Scheuer's response is instructive:

John from Franklin: I for one am sick and tired of all these Jews coming on C-SPAN and other stations and pushing us to go to war against our Muslim friends. They're willing to spend the last drop of American blood and treasure to get their way in the world. They have way too much power in this country. People like Wolfowitz and Feith and the other neo-cons -- they jewed us into Iraq -- and now we're going to spend the next 60 years rehabilitating our soldiers -- I'm sick and tired of it.

C-SPAN host: Any comment on that?

Scheuer: Yeah. I think that American foreign policy is ultimately up to the American people. One of the big things we have not been able to discuss for the past 30 years is the Israelis. Whether we want to be involved in fighting Israel's wars in the future is something that Americans should be able to talk about. They may vote yes. They may want to see their kids killed in Iraq or somewhere else to defend Israel. But the question is: we need to talk about it. Ultimately Israel is a country that is of no particular worth the United States.

C-SPAN host: You mean strategically?

Scheuer: Strategically. They have no resources we need. Their manpower is minimal. Their association with us is a negative for the United States. Now that's a fact. What you want to do about that fact is entirely different. But for anyone to stand up in the United States and day that support for Israel doesn't hurt us in the Muslim world is to just defy reality.

After that statement of agreement with a grossly bigoted phone caller, Scheuer went on to state an opinion so bizarre that, under ordinary circumstances, would stand out; in this context, however, its illogic seems minor by comparison. Scheuer said that he opposes trying accused terrorists in U.S. courts, arguing that, because Muslims consider these defendants innocent of any crime, when they're convicted, it makes our courts seem biased against Muslims. For that reason, Scheuer supports holding accused terrorists without trial. By his thinking, the Muslim world would approve of the U.S. holding accused terrorists prisoner indefinitely without trial more than they would support the accused terrorists getting trials. (At 20:00 of the video.)

Who supports Scheuer's peculiar views? One indication is who publishes his work on their websites. Scheuer's next call came from a supporter identified as Tim from Crawford, Virgina. Tim has published Scheuer's writings on his several anti-Semitic websites, at least one of which is largely devoted to promoting disinformation blaming Jews for carrying out 9/11.

Tim from Crawford: Mr. Scheuer, I met you in Los Angeles and you were so brave being on the Bill Maher Show talking about how we're fighting these wars for Israel and I told you about my neoconzionistthreat.com website and america-hijacked.com. You were absolutely spot on, sir. When are we going to shred the Israeli yoke and get on with defending America like George Washington wanted us to?

Scheuer didn't really address those rhetorical questions in his response, so that is something we must look forward to in a later interview. But the question does give some insight into his base of support.

From a psychological perspective, it's instructive to take a look at how Scheuer's paranoid view of Israeli influence has created situations which seem to him to confirm that paranoia. He charges that AIPAC (which he pronounces "eye-pack") and other unnamed Zionists got him fired from his position as a Senior Fellow and columnist for the Jamestown Foundation, an anti-terrorism think-tank, based on a single comment he made. He says (at 39:20 in the video) that he
"said sort of flippantly at one of their conferences that Obama was doing the 'Tel-Aviv Two Step' during the presidential campaign -- getting closer to the Israel Lobby. And that was enough to have the donors to that foundation indicate that I should be terminated...

"You know you always talk about the Israel Lobby and its power, and to see it up close and personal aimed right at me, was very educational. In fact, it was worth the experience of losing a job."

Scheuer believes that his extreme views, no matter how much they diverge from those of the Jamestown Foundation, should be promoted by that group; and if the Jamestown Foundation chooses not to do so, it must be the result of a Zionist conspiracy. I don't have any inside information concerning why the leadership of the Jamestown Foundation fired Scheuer, but the idea that it was the single comment he cites as the reason strains credulity. Scheuer has a record of extreme -- even paranoid -- opinions on this subject of Israel -- a record which is getting longer by the day. His explanation of his firing is perfectly consistent with that paranoid worldview.

That firing might have been motivated by Scheuer's bizarre statement that "the U.S. government was marching to the drummer of al Qaeda" (at 0:50 0f the below-embedded video). He doesn't explain how the U.S. can be controlled by both the Israel Lobby and al Qaeda.

Getting back to his C-SPAN interview, Scheuer wrapped it up by talking himself through the following logical wormhole:

Scheuer: Would I have opposed Truman's decision to recognize Israel? I certainly would have! Because it (was) obvious where it was going to lead.

That being said, let me say that no country has a right to exist. The United States doesn't have a right to exist. Britain doesn't have a right to exist. Bolivia doesn't have a right to exist! Countries exist if they can get along with their neighbors, if they have a thriving economy and a social system which is equitable. If countries have a right to exist, we would be resurrecting the Soviet Union, the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, and every other country that has gone down the tubes. Every contry has a right to defend itself, including Israel, but no country has a right to exist.

Elsewhere in this interview, Scheuer argues that whether or not a foreign nation is democratic is of no importance to the United States. He argues that the only factor meriting consideration in determining United States foreign policy is a narrowly defined view of what is in the our immediate national interest. To him, a dictatorship is as good as a democracy, so long as we come out ahead. What he doesn't understand is that the world he advocates is not one in which the United States in particular and democracy in general would be welcome. Maybe that is why the Jamestown Foundation fired him.


TNC said...

No wonder this clown was Ron Paul's foreign policy adviser.

velvel in decatur said...

"Scheuer: Would I have opposed Truman's decision to recognize Israel? I certainly would have! Because it (was) obvious where it was going to lead."
I am astounded that someone with the prescience of Scheuer has not made something better of himself...but then again...mental institutions are full of seers, sages, and fortune tellers, eh?
The sad thing is that with 24-hour teevee stations the producers and "talent" stoop to bringing such pathetic excuses for human beings on the air.
And that he is one of Ron Paul's advisors shows the bankruptcy of spirit possessed by Dr Paul.

Daniel said...

I had assumed that Scheuer was a liberal Jewish traitor- ala Chomsky, Adem Shapiro et al. I was surprisd to have learned that he is a heathen

Jim Pivonka said...

Scheuer, in his column "Barack Obama, Interventionist and Ultimate Jihadi Hero" (antiwar.com, 12/31/2009) shows himself to be a card carrying member of the rightist assault brigade currently attacking reason and the Enlightement. Either he has been schooled by Ralph Peters or he and Ralph have attended the same maddrasseh, presumably inspired by the philosophy of Russell Kirk and provided logistical support by post Christian religious sects which have been working for years to take power within the US military and security establishment.

You and your readers may be interested in comparing M. Scheuer's antiwar.com rant with Lt. Col. Peter's thinking, as I have described it in a posting at Daily Kos, here: http://bit.ly/5vSZzG (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/3/12/2911/12932) "Natural Man and the Glories of Hatred".

Adam Holland said...


Thanks for your comment concerning "insane delusions". Would you consider yourself a typical Michael Scheuer supporter? By the way, have you called C-SPAN recently?

Unknown said...

Pardon the intrusion and as a first time visitor I’ll attempt to candidly comment with respect to your readers.

Only by happenstance did I see most of the live CSPAN interview with Mr. Michael Scheuer. I watch the Journal when I get the chance, which is usually not when they have their most provocative guests. I've seen Mr. Scheuer interviewed on CNN recently and found him to be candid and informative, something we rarely get from the pundits that normally inhabit 24/7 news. I “Googled” him today to research his background and his books, and my first hit was Jeffrey Goldberg’s (of Atlantic Monthly) diatribe against C-SPAN, Bill Scanlan, and Michael Scheurer. Through the link on that site is how I got here. I was strongly tempted to describe his "journalism" as irrational and foaming at the mouth diatribe, but decided against it.

Mr. Goldberg as a journalist who has the advantage of a major mouthpiece at his disposal such as “The Atlantic” apparently believes that we Americans should relinquish their right to an opinion or the right to openly discuss certain issues. I personally find such belief highly disingenuous to a free speech society. Obviously it is an attempt at subverting discussion on a highly legitimate issue for all of us Americans who pay many billions in taxes to Israel in the form of aid, etc.

Simply put…..regardless of Mr. Goldberg’s opinion the following questions need discussed and debated publicly. Is our current financial and unilateral foreign policy support for Israel in our national interest? Would a more neutral foreign policy in the Middle East be advantageous to the USA and give us the ability to broker peace and get us more respect from the world community, including the Muslim world?

We need extensive Congressional hearings on this as well as dedicated CSPAN coverage with a multitude of subject matter experts on both sides of the issue. Our foreign policy should be determined by all Americans.

Anonymous said...

Dear Adam,

First, before you make allegations, this is neither Michael Scheuer nor anti Israeli rightist/leftist(?) You have yet to comb through Imperial Hubris, Through our Enemies Eyes, or Marching Towards Hell and find a logical error in Scheuer's basic thesis. I've been reading both your and Scheuer's work for some time now. Really, the ball is in your court and the challenge you face is pretty simple. Find a single example or quote from Mr. Bin Ladin or his acolytes that address anything other than the motive that Scheuer discusses in all his work, namely, that they hate us for policy decisions versus for our way of life (e.g. that we get watch Pamela Lee nude and that we get to drink at Houlihans etc.). I think you'll be hard pressed to produce a single quote from an interview where the main brunt of the interview makes charges against the US rest on our way of life. After all, there appear to already be regions of these nations themselves that are replete with "western" vices that have yet to experience an attack. With that in mind, these same folks have also very vehemently pursued unlinking American and Israeli interests in the mid-East. So if this is played out to the extreme and these "foaming at the mouth" "lice infested, bad teeth having" terrorists/freedom fighters? succeed and then there is a lone Israel (minus US support) facing down a column of Islamist enemies, what happens? I think you have yet to make the case as to why we should really care about the outcome in regard to our national interest. We are a heavily armed country with the mightiest military arsenal ever known to man. We may have yet to refine our capability to defend the mainland US against isolated threats of any kind from single individuals that penetrate our borders etc, but these non state actors have absolutely no capabilities of penetrating our country in the typical modern military invasion style approaches. An opposition leader like Bin Ladin would certainly understand the concept of mutually assured destruction if he is already reading works like Imperial Hubris/Marching Towards Hell that describe the concept in depth.

Furthermore, you have yet to make a case to me, an American born on this soil, as to why my tax money ought to in any way go to arming Israel or any other nation for that matter.

I think that the essential problem is that you are trying to take a logical problem and deflect it with emotional criticism. Mr. Scheuer has made the claim, alongside of him many other folks with differing degrees of reverence for Israel, regarding our unilateral ties with the nation state. You attempt to detract from the argument by asserting that the rug is pulled out from under it because the gentleman presenting it is antisemitic. In your realm of logic, this renders it ipso factor condemned/wrong. This hardly does me or any reader intellectual justice. We prefer a toe to toe approach with just the facts sir.

Anonymous said...

Continuation of prior

I think the other very important problem that you have is that a very illustrious American recently chimed in and agreed with Mr. Scheuer. His words carry quiet a bit of weight around these 50 states:

"A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification." ~George Washington Farewell Address

"The nation which indulges toward another habitual hatred or habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interests." ~ George Washington

Please Mr. Holland, tell me why I ought to disobey the direct request/order of my first commander and chief? Tread carefully here because these were long sighted men who created a government that could deal with a future hundreds of years away so the argument of time passing is irrelevent.

Anonymous said...

Scheuer is a competent guy who has the facts on his side. Since he has worked inside the DC-Juggernaut, he probably knows what he is talking about. Countering that by screeching good ol' antisemitism is really not convincing me at all. It is simply an ad hominem attack that, furthermore, has been dished out so often over the last years that it will - at best - evoke a sorry smile with a pro like Scheuer.

At the same time, whenever I hear these frantic cries of "antisemitism" I sense a growing fear of repercussion among the members of the tribe - which is fully understandable considering the fact that more and more Americans (just like that disgruntled caller on C-SPAN) are waking up to some very unpleasant truths, e.g. the stranglehold of AIPAC on American foreign policy, Israel's attack on the USS Liberty, the bilking of the American taxpayer to the tune of billions of dollars to sustain the military occupation of Palestine, Israel's massive spying on the U.S. by people like Pollard et al., and, of course, the giant fraud commited by fast buck artists like Fastow, Milken, Boesky, Levine, Stern, Rothstein, Madoff et al.

I don't even want to imagine what is going to happen as soon as millions of irate Joe Sixpacks have finally connected the dots: The ensuing political thunderstorm will make 1933 look like a storm in the waterglass: After all, unlike Weimar Germany's citizens and unlike the founding fathers, Joe Sixpack has stored enough weapons and ammo at home to make a second American revolution look like a cakewalk ...

Anonymous said...

For you, sir, one can't be a good American because good Americans can't be bigots and any American who questions Israel's actions and our blind support for them is a "bigot." So in the end you are a lot like the Soviet censors: it is immoral to question Communism so those who question it are "enemies of the people." In refusing to face critics of Israel in MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE you recklessly and criminally promote an American Krystanaht for as you know Americans tend towards finding scapegoats. Most Diaspora Jews deem Israel a nice place to visit but not to live. Indeed, more Jews emigrate from Israel than make the Aliyah to Israel. So to endanger their integration in the Diaspora for the sake of Likud policies is criminal. Please be weary of falling into the neocon Leninist policy of: POLARIZE TO MOBILIZE that goes as far as calling Jews who challenge Israeli polices "self-hating Jews." They can be Jews and good Americans without wanted their nation's blood and treasure spilled for Israel. As something of a Zionist I think Israel will gain far more by integrating with its Arab cousins than by pretending it is a European nation that must be allowed into NATO and EU. This does NOT make me a "bigot" but rather makes you one for calling anyone like me a bigot. Still, I would feel that we both would gain from extended meaningful dialogue as Americans.

DE Teodoru

Anonymous said...

You folks do know that the more you deny their concerns, try to silence and pathologize your critics, the more horrific the backlash will be once you finally blow it up, right?

But I wonder: surely that couldn't be the endgame, could it?

That is: the modus opperandi: a perennial re-affirmation of your psycho-mythological status as superior victims unfairly persecuted by the ever-evil goyim?


It's not?

Shew! That's a load off my mind, then.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Adam for your blog. Very informative and excelent critical analysis. I know M Scheuer and have talked on informal occasions. I have been in the intel and foreign policy business on and off for a few years.

Nothing in life is inalienable which goes as much for a nation-state as an individual. Self-determination is as much a myth as you must fight, negotiate, or be luck and have this given. Israelis have opperated on on three levels to realize a dream after diaspora, inquisitions, pogroms, Holocaust. Michael acknowledges as much, but also states are interests are much better aligned with 1.2 billion Muslims than 16 million Jews. This is rational only to the degree that this future of this Country will be less anti-Muslim and marching less toward a Clash of Civilizations than an isolation of the Israeli State by th US. His foreign policy rationalization might make sense, but in the end he has nothing for several reasons, all of which become dangerous.

I think Michael's "thing" is similar to someone like Farrakhan, in that the years he spent trying to learn to think like the enemy, he became attached with their message and feel annointed to tell it to the media. Farrakhan, who I met, became attached to the sensitivities of his race much more than the sensitivites of Jews, who incidently did more to help the cause of discriminated blacks than any other group.

"Attack Israel instead and leave the good ole' US alone?" Who is he kidding? It's too late to blame the Jews for the actions of the radical political Islamists, like Bin Ladin. Now, his point on Afghanistan is another matter of which I can agree with.

Britax said...

I had also assumed that Scheuer was a regular liberal Jew. This post was insightful.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post. Really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

Anonymous said...

I have known Mike Scheuer personally for quite a long time. It has been very sad to see his mental state deteriorating rapidly in the past few years. The Mike Shcheuer I once worked with was a rational intellectual. Sadly, he is but a shadow of that today, consumed by hatred and a warped view of what America is.

Anonymous said...

I too am saddened to see what has become of Mr. Scheuer.

I am an American journalist. I had long-considered, and still do consider, Scheuer to be, deep in his heart, an honest American patriot. However, I think due to his work in the CIA, forcing himself to become as close as he could to UBL, he developed some sort of sick Florence Nightingale-like attachment to him.

While his assertions are correct, that the U.S. should only be associated with other nations inasmuch there is a benefit for the U.S. as well as the other nation, Scheuer incorrectly assumes that by simply abandoning or limiting our relationship with Israel, Al-Qaeda and the like will back down.

The U.K. tried that with Hitler. It didn't work. Churchill warned against it and it later elected him to the Prime Ministry.

Jihadists are bullies, in the most simplist of terms. A bully doesn't cease his ways after getting your lunch money today. He comes back to you tomorrow and threatens even more terrible things if you don't hand it over yet again.

With all of his talk about "America First" I am aghast that Mr. Scheuer is ready to capitulate to schoolyard bullies. Some cave-dwellers in backwards lands who fight from shadows ought not to scare the United States into abandoning whoever it chooses to be friends with.

Adam Holland said...

As a journalist, you should know how to spell the word "simplest" and how to use it properly in a sentence. It would also be best, when arguing against isolationism, not to refer to entire nations as "cave-dwellers". Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

How correct you are, Adam. I should have proofread. But thanks for pointing it out, snarkily as you did. Thanks for arguing the points I made. Just sayin'.

The cave-dwellers of which I wrote are not "other nations." They are not ethnic groups. They are not religious groups, even. They are the radicals who seek to destroy the United States. The may be comprised of a few select ethnic groups, and purport to adhere to a certain religion. But their insanity has lead them to leave forms of normality behind and embrace a form of life in which they submit to unattainable personal goals, which are the whims of an egotistical master. They live in despair. They forgo better judgement and blindly follow a leader who promises them some sort of tangible reward for a supposed moral self-sacrifice. These people would rather perform suicide attacks for a reward of seventy virgins rather than live long enough to see a grandchild's wedding day.

According to Scheuer, whose career now is focused on "America First" aggrandizing, seems to think that our troubles will disappear if we disengage from the Middle East and end support of Israel, because that's what al Qaeda says.

I didn't know "America First" activists were such sniveling wimps.

Isolationism in today's world is cowardice. Mr. Scheuer makes valid points in regard to the U.S. losing credibility when making democracy pillow talk while supporting tyrannical Arabic regimes. But he loses points with me by preaching a withdraw from the Middle East and an abandonment of Israel just to placate the Islamic Terrorist Bullies.

Do you really think their war against us will then stop? What else will we need to do for the big scary Muslim, so he won't beat us up on the playground anymore? Will we need to keep women in hijabs? Will we need to eat only Halal food? What next about us will they not like so fervently that it will drive them to attack us?

You would think an "America Firster" with the fervor of Mr. Scheuer would stand up for America's right to be friends with whomever she damn well pleases.


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