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Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq [Hardcover]

Michael Scheuer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Mar 2008
Michael Scheuer is the author of Imperial Hubris, which was a New York Times hardcover bestseller for fifteen weeks and stirred up attention in every national and local media outlet. He is a veteran CIA counterterrorism analyst who for many years headed the Osama bin Laden unit. In Marching Toward Hell, Scheuer offers a scathing and frightening look at how the Iraq war has contributed to the enemy's strength and fundamentally changed the geopolitical landscape in a way that is harmful to U.S. interests and security concerns. Scheuer will examine the ways in which the war has widened the conflict by almost every measure, made America less secure, and left us all increasingly vulnerable to attack.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Free Press Hardcover Ed edition (17 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743299698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743299695
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 16.3 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 491,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Michael F. Scheuer is a 22-year CIA veteran. From 1996 to 1999, he served as the Chief of the Osama bin Laden tracking unit at the Counterterrorist Centre and as Special Adviser to the unit from 2001 to 2004. He was also in charge of drafting the original rendition process under Clinton. He resigned from the CIA in 2004. He is currently a News Analyst for CBS News.

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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Michael Scheuer worked for the CIA for 20 years until he resigned in November 2004. In this brilliant book, he argues that the US ruling class has a single overriding aim which is harming the USA - "an unquenchable ardour to have the United States intervene abroad in all places, situations, and times." He believes that US foreign policies should focus on defending US national interests, citizens and sovereignty, not on crusades to change the world.

He denounces Non-Governmental Organisations' `unquenchable thirst for western intervention'. He describes them as `arrogant and self-righteous engines of Western imperialism and intervention abroad'. For example, in company with Republican candidate John McCain, they want to send a US-UK military force to Darfur, where there are no conceivable US or British interests at stake "and where a military action can only waste American lives and money, worsen the civil war, and again validate the Islamists' contention that Washington intends to destroy the Sudanese and all Muslim regimes that will not do its bidding."

Scheuer also criticises the US policies of support for Israel and Saudi Arabia, noting that backing Israel is "absolutely irrelevant and manifestly counter-productive to the national-security interests of the United States." He urges the maximum practicable energy self-sufficiency to end dependence on Saudi Arabia's oil. He points out that Saudi Arabia is not a friend: it hikes up oil prices then uses the profits to fund worldwide anti-Western activities. He proposes that the USA should exploit its oil, gas and coal reserves, increase its use of nuclear power and invest in renewables.

He argues that the attack on Iraq diverted resources away from the war on al-Qaeda and destroyed the Iraqi bulwark against al-Qaeda.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compulsory Reading 25 Jun 2008
Format:Hardcover
I've just finished reading Marching Toward Hell. He makes a very convincing argument and perhaps stops short on how he sees the West should begin to move away from its dependance on overseas energy sources, as he admits due to his lack of knowledge on the subject. Overwhelmingly the reader is left with a feeling that what he says is true; the quotes from historical leaders and our past unlearned, perhaps forgotten, experiences help us to realise how our leaders are lacking in the depth of knowledge and strength which their positions and our expectations demand. At times, you are left wondering whether if Scheuer's path were followed Armageddon might come sooner or whether his ideas are the only way we can avoid it.
Generally it is a good and easy read for anyone wishing to expand their knowledge on the gargantuam problems we face in this modern age - maybe a compulsory read. Its repetitive in places and often every new paragraph seems to sum up the whole book. Not sure about the essay towards the end given from an Al-Qaeda Sleeper's point of view in America but we ignore Scheuer and this unpleasant reality at our peril.
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2.0 out of 5 stars off the mark 28 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
while america's foreign policies have had an effect especially in regards to Israel in fuelling islamist hatred towards america there undoubted and often stated aim is to creat a muslim world either by killing or converting.
Many islamist leaders or rulers do hate the western culture as it goes against there interpretation of the koran and that is why hard-line rulers try to stop any western ways of life seeping in to there cultures

his sugestion is basically an insular and nationalistic approach to foreign policy,and if anything this has just as bad an effect on american or any other countries saftey and security
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By Waseem
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you want to know the real situation in the Middle East and America's 'no win' foreign policy you need to read this book. Michael Sheuar says it like it is, and he holds no punches. If you think the situation in the Middle East is going to improve any time soon think again. This is a book any patriotic American must read and hold his leaders to account. If more writers like Sheuar speak out and make their voice heard it may make a difference.

A book that will change many minds if enough people make it heard.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  59 reviews
207 of 223 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Former top intelligence analyst is critical of U.S. foreign policy. Very pessimistic 13 Feb 2008
By Citizen John - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Michael Scheuer, PhD and former CIA career officer, made a big splash in June 2004 as the anonymous author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. At that time he contradicted Rumsfeld and other officials by informing us there was an insurgency in Iraq.

Now Scheuer tells us where we're going. We're going to hell.

Marching Toward Hell claims that U.S. foreign policy is often based on faulty assumptions and is driven by some lobbyists whose interests are different than those of the American people. This book goes well beyond the themes of Imperial Hubris.

Dr. Scheuer's book merits 5 stars. He sacrificed his career at the CIA in order to publicly denounce the 9/11 Commission for having become politicized. He did this at a time when other insiders protected their careers and are only now coming out. He's also superb at explaining the relationship between the intelligence community and elected officials in the U.S.

Scholars take Scheuer seriously because of his 22-year career as a top intelligence analyst and also the success of his first book, Imperial Hubris. He studied Osama bin Laden (ObL) for years and urged superiors to remove ObL no less than 10 times when the opportunity arose. No action was taken each time for political reasons.

ObL has recommended Scheuer's book, Imperial Hubris, to the American people in a taunting missive. Marching Toward Hell strikes back with recommendations aimed at helping the American people to wise up.

According to Scheuer, U.S. policymakers still prefer to present the bin Laden Movement as a lunatic fringe even though it has broad appeal in the Islamic world. Also, U.S. support of Israel and U.S. troop presence contributes to the popular perception within the Muslim world that the West is bent on destroying Islam.

As if that wasn't disturbing enough, Scheuer says that some officials possibly never intended to win in Iraq (and certainly not before the 2004 presidential election). Otherwise, more troops would have been sent. While the logic of this argument is irrefutable, it is almost too disturbing to think about.

Other points: the fact that very few political leaders have children serving in the wars is disturbing on many levels; the divide in the U.S. between the political elite and the rest of the people has never been wider; and young people will be sent to war in the coming 8 years regardless of election results.

Scheuer concludes that the U.S. cannot avoid war with Islamists, that it will be much more violent that what we've seen so far, and also that it's too late to win in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Scheuer is angry for several reasons including the reluctance of Americans to understand Muslim viewpoints, the Bush administration dismissal of Middle East experts' wisdom and advice, and the lack of political leadership regarding energy policy.

Marching Toward Hell includes a thoughtful proposal. A summary of Scheuer's proposal (The Scheuer Proposal) is that the U.S. must reduce its foreign commitments and to first focus on domestic security, including stationing the Army along America's borders. Problems with U.S. foreign policy include operating without regard to the best interests of the country and also budget limitations. Simultaneously, the country would begin to take steps to reduce oil dependency. Then the U.S. would prepare to defeat its enemies such as Al-Qaeda. That is my summary of his proposal, not endorsement.

Among other things, the Proposal calls for effective use of intelligence assets and willingness to use the military differently, more violently. The Scheuer Proposal is filled with surprises and brings into question to what extent it speaks for the intelligence community as a whole.

The author says foreign policy is going to become more important, not less. The wars, he says, are lost regardless - that we're in a fourth generation war where adversaries have a scorched earth strategy, leaving nothing for the occupier to occupy anyway. Remarkably, he goes much further and includes Russia, China and India as countries against Islam that the U.S. supports. Even so, he concludes that the U.S. cannot avoid an even more violent war with Islam.

In my view, the Scheuer Proposal cuts across so many emotional pressure points that Scheuer is guaranteed to get the attention of Middle America this time. I think the least contentious point is to change the way the President and Congress use the intelligence information and assets provided by taxpayers at great expense. The most controversial point is probably assignment of blame to Israeli lobbyists for encouraging the war in Iraq. (Notably Scheuer does not blame these lobbyists for the mismanagement of same. He also says this has made Israel less secure.) And the weakest point of the Scheuer Proposal is probably the lack of specifics for how the U.S. will reduce its energy dependency. The Scheuer Proposal relies heavily on a successful new energy policy.

Possibly Scheuer thinks hell is our destiny as the Proposal holds that alarming horror is in our future. Such an approach from such a man attracts and holds the reader's interest as if by a spell.

Postscript 1/13/2013:
Regimes across the Middle East have fallen and continue to do so. Islamic transnational fighters are now focused on ending the regime in Syria. We don't yet know what kind of returns the U.S. is getting on treasures spent for the Iraq War but we do know nothing will ever be the same.
61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Admirable diagnosis, questionable prescription 5 April 2008
By John Bonavia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Well, Michael Scheuer certainly doesn't pull his punches. As a former CIA officer, he was in a position to know a lot more than most people about what was going on before and after 9/11, in the Middle East and in Washington and Langley. He also reads widely in world history and politics (A favorite author is Machiavelli). His verdict, delivered with a pen often dipped in acid, is discouraging. Basically, he finds all our recent presidents failing their prime duty to (a) understand reality in foreign affairs (b) focus completely on what serves America's interests and ignore anything else. The wellbeing of other states, for instance Israel, is not our concern, and we certainly have no role in trying to export our political system to other countries.

His diagnosis of our current troubles is clearly accurate. I've always been astonished that Bush could get away with claiming that Muslim activists hate us because they don't like out freedom or social structure. As Scheuer points out, they have made it perfectly clear that are not really interested in what kind of society the infidels choose to live in - in fact they are somewhat ambivalent about it, liking some aspects but considering it decadent - but they are infuriated by the presence of non Muslim troops in their own countries. They also feel their oil has been sold off cheaply and the profits have benefited only rich, decadent and corrupt rulers like the House of Saud. And of course there is the one-sided US support of Israel.

However, his prescription is one that many will find far off track. He has a good analysis of some of our military problems as being related to the hangover of a "Cold War" mentality - hostility between well-defined, technically advanced, nation-states, and how this does not fit the Middle East. Well, that's convincing - who was it said that generals are always ready to fight the last war, but not this one? But he thinks that the only way to win the "war on terror" is to apply rapid and overwhelming force. Anything less, he feels, causes an opponent - especially those who are accustomed to living with much violence and respect force - to think you are weak and step up their efforts. In this he considers civilian casualties, while regrettable, of minor importance. For instance, his approach to Afghanistan in 2001 would have been dramatic - reduce Kabul and Kandahar to rubble and strew salt over the remains. Strong hint of using nukes for this. He fully approved of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He optimistically thinks this kind of action would be a knock-out punch that would save us from further troubles. It's surprising that he doesn't consider what an incredible reaction of horror in the whole world - including our allies - this would provoke. That, he may not care about: but what about the fury throughout the Muslim world, which as he well knows, contains over a billion individuals - three times the population of the US! Also, in 2008, where would you aim such a blow anyway? The Iraq and Afghanistan insurgencies are widely-based and it's hard to see a defined target.

Other weird ideas include sealing off some Middle Eastern borders - has he ever seen those mountains? and our Mexican and Canadian ones, with no particular evidence that these two countries are terrorist entry points. Besides, making the land entry difficult will just make it more attractive to send that little old cargo ship into a major port with something very nasty in its hold.

To me, because there is really no practical defense against that last kind of attack, it makes much more sense to do what Scheuer cannot bring himself, in his macho attitude, to consider: actually address some of the reasons that Muslims are so angry with the US. He seems to understand them well enough. He has just read too many mailed-fist writers in the ancient and modern military fields.

But read this book, because whether you agree with him or not he gives a consistent viewpoint and much fascinating information.
87 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and Very Timely! 14 Feb 2008
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Scheurer's CIA career and innate intellect combine in "Marching Toward Hell" to create an outstanding and very timely book. He begins by pointing out that our bipartisan governing elite has an unquenchable ardor to have the U.S. intervene abroad in all places. Some prefer diplomatic, others military, humanitarian, covert, and/or foreign aid mixed with Christian proselytizing. The result is that we live in a prolonged Cold War hangover that creates more problems than it solves.

Scheuer's intent in the book is to reconstruct how the U.S. found itself with an untenable set of foreign policies and national security strategies on 9/11, and to explain the costs of trying to maintain them.

U.S. ties to Israel, a state that contributes nothing to America's economic welfare or strategic security, are absurd, per Scheuer. Responding to those claiming Israel has a "right to exist," he states that Darwin's "survival of the fittest" applies; further, "Are we to also resuscitate the USSR, Sparta, etc.?" "You form your country, and you take your chances."

The second major nonsensical decision that burdens America is our doing little in response to the '73 oil embargo. Thus, we have ended up playing both sides (Israel vs. the Arab states) in a religious fight-to-the-finish.

American policies are further undermined by human rights groups - eg. they pushed the Senate to pursue human rights for Afghan women instead of us being able to try to get the Taliban to turn over Bin Laden. Other secondary issues have stayed our hand numerous times - eg. blowing up Iraq's Intelligence Service headquarters at night (minimize casualties) in response to its effort to assassinate Bush I in Kuwait, and calling off multiple efforts to kill Bin Laden.

Scheuer believes we have lost both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and that launching the Iraq War was a major blunder. Further, we need to stop believing that a "post-war Marshal Plan" will change the hearts and minds of Arabs - not unless we stop backing Arab tyrants and Israel.

As for Europe, Scheuer sees it becoming overrun by Muslim immigrants and their children. Meanwhile, its support for the U.S. is weakening - witness the recent fall of supporting leaders in the U.K., Spain, and Poland.

Concluding, Scheuer states that Islam is the fastest growing religion, U.S. officials have lied to citizens (providing erroneous reasons why terrorists hate us - eg. "they hate democracy)," instead of telling the truth while counteracting terrorists, and the U.S. is VERY vulnerable to more terrorism subce we've cut funding to help Russia secure its nuclear weapons, failed to close our borders, and failed to even propose an effective energy policy.

As for "preventing follow-up terrorist attacks in the U.S.," Scheuer is unimpressed - they're simply defeating us without bombs, through dragging us down towards bankruptcy. His recommendation - focus on "America first" - issues that truly threaten our survival.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passionate Integrity 17 Mar 2008
By Ralph H. Peters - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Michael Scheuer is a distinctly (and valuably) American phenomenon, the lone-gun unafraid to take a stand, no matter the odds against him. As a writer on security affairs myself, I may disagree with Scheuer on some specifics (such as terrorist motivation or Israel), but I can only admire the fierce integrity and citizen's passion that fills every page of this book. We are all fortunate to have this voice in the debate and this book--written by a man whose insider experience didn't corrupt him, but, on the contrary, led him to dig in his heels and fight for the country he loves on the battlefield of ideas. And whether or not a given reader agrees with Scheuer's analysis of issue X or Y, it's undeniable that he has no agenda beyond wishing the best for our country--it's just a marvelous thing to have so fearless an author, a man who isn't angling for a job in the next administration or worried about a promotion, but who is just deep in the fight and swinging for the United States of America. This is a book of great character, courage and raw anger--a book worth reading, reacting to, arguing with and, ultimately, absorbing. It is not a well-mannered book in the typical Washington vein, but a frontal attack on the follies Scheuer personally witnessed (not least, the utter unwillingness of the Clinton administration to take any meaningful action against Islamist terrorists--a fateful cowardice I saw myself from a different angle while serving in the Pentagon).
In this read-it-now recommendation, I've concentrated on the character of the book, letting others address the contents. I'm glad I read it myself and hope that many others will. In the great American tradition of constructive provocateurs, Mike Scheuer doesn't demand that you agree with him on every point--but he does want us all to think for ourselves, instead of accepting the platitudes delivered from on high by the governing "elite." I value the book, and I admire the man who wrote it. It's encouraging to have this voice crying out in the Washington wilderness.
--Ralph Peters
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Americans must read this book! 29 Feb 2008
By Topnife - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a book that one could hope every American would read with an open mind, regardless of political ideology. And it is a very enjoyable read. Dr. Scheuer delivers a closely reasoned challenge to the concepts on which our current foreign policy is largely based, with a savagely eloquent and engaging style, seasoned with ironic humor. Members of the "bipartisan governing elite" are individually and collectively castigated, scathingly and without mercy, and also without evident political bias. Open the book to almost any page at random, and you will find a succinct and logical argument, or a quotable quote.
As a longtime fan of Israel, I was dismayed that I could not devise a logical response to his assertion that our support serves no compelling American national security objective. Indeed, most critics who disagree with him can only resort to ad hominem fallacies, not to logical expostulation.
Dr. Scheuer's prognosis for America is quite dismal on our present course, a conclusion which he bases on a study of history, critical analysis of the performance and concepts of our governing elite, and comprehensive knowledge of our global adversaries. He concludes that a reversal of our policy to one of non-intervention and strict adherence to national self-interest is our only hope of salvation.
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