Pardon me: Iraq and Bin Laden

Pardon me for the seemingly "random' nature of this entry in light of my wife's previous Halloween post but I have to mention something I have thinking a lot about lately: Iraq and Bin Laden.

What is REALLY going on? HOW did we get here? Where did Bin Laden come from and what's his problem anyway? HOW did we decide to go into Iraq anyway - I mean, what were the detailed sources of evidence (and lack of) that we purportedly had?

I have watched CNN. I have read the paper. I have discussed the subjects with friends and aquaintances but even after a few years of Bin Laden and Iraq becoming household names, I still haven't felt informed enough to have a grasp on these two subjects.
Oh I have EMOTIONAL opinions about them but not detailed understandings where I could speak with even pseudo authority.

So, I have read these two books over the last two months and I HIGHLY recommend both of them in getting a grasp of the subjects aforementioned.

I found myself saying "AHA" or "OHHHHH" as the journalistic testomonies illuminated the leadership decisions, flops and lessons in the US deciding to invade and through the occupation of Iraq.
Suspend your rightist or leftist judgements. This book is about costs - not that avoiding costs was/is the solution to Iraq, but that the costs of poor planning, communication and leadership have contributed to the present mire. A key takeaway for me was the profound leadership errors - large and small - made by good people who, at pivotal times, made decisions not taking into account their own blindspots or mistaking humility with cowardice. Not all of the book was negative - there are some refreshing examples of military and civilian leaders that responded in this fog of uncertainty - with courageous leadership and tremendous sacrifice. A very helpful read.

As for Bin Laden, this books is so much more than just about him. It provides the overall worldview and context that led to 9/11. I could NOT PUT IT DOWN - little did I know that the Al Qaeda belief in takfir - 'a license to kill' interpretation of the Quran - found its inspiration in the writings of Sayyd Qutb in the 1940s as he visited the U.S. - specifically Greeley, CO of all places! Like most of history, stuff just doesn't happen but is a culmination of individual choices based on beliefs, socio-economic events or conditions, disasters and paradigm shifts - this is a tragic and fascinating account of the emerging extremists the US faces.

I don't know if I can say 'enjoy' but definitely 'dive in' and be better informed - it's worth it.


Alex said...


Great book report. It's so hard to find truth in on these topics when everyone's opinions are so emotional.
Maybe I'll ask for these books for Christmas :).

Another book on my short list that was recommended to me is called "Crisis of Islam" and provides a fascinating history of the middle east conflict.

Looking forward to discussing this with you.

Jimmy Kat said...

Now THAT'S a blog post!