On Tuesday, I appeared on the Glenn Beck show with Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer to discuss the Bush administration's release of the latest National Intelligence Estimate, and Mr. Scheuer experienced a bout of selective amnesia.
During the segment, the subject of the Islamists' desire to re-establish the caliphate came up:
Beck: Do you really think that (Al Qaeda terrorists) would stop (targeting America) if we -- I mean, what behavior is it that we could possibly change that would stop them when they`re looking for a global caliphate?
Scheuer: Well, I think a global caliphate is kind of the last refuge of the neoconservatives after they`ve been wrong about anything else. There`s no chance of a caliphate in our world any more than there is of all Christians turning the other cheek, sir. (emphasis added)
In Mr. Scheuer's haste to win debate points, he apparently forgot his own words and analysis, argued in his celebrated "anonymously" published book, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror.
In a section titled, "The Importance of Afghanistan," (see underlined passages) Scheuer himself described the centrality of the re-establishment of the caliphate in the Islamist mindset, writing (on pages 141-142):
But why, one might ask, is one of the poorest countries [Afghanistan] on earth and a one-eyed, battle-scared, and not superbly educated mullah pivotal in the Islamists' eyes? The answer, once again, is found in the annals of Islamic history. Since the British completed the destruction of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924, no country has replaced Turkey as the Muslim world's center. In other words, Islam has needed a site from which to launch a new Caliphate, a state that would be governed by the shariah, God's law. (emphasis added)
Suddenly, when the Taleban captured Kabul I 1996, Afghanistan became an official Islamic state – or emirate – ruled by shariah principles, and so the Islamists found themselves having the long-sought basics: a state ruled by an Islamic scholar from which to revive the Caliphate. (emphasis added)
So what was once good enough for Mr. Scheuer and also "found in the annals of Islamic history," is now somehow "the last refuge of neoconservatives" and something that there is "no chance" of becoming a reality.
Of course, whether or not the Islamists will actually be able to re-establish a caliphate is hardly the point. It is the fact that al Qaeda is intent on trying to do just that – a point which Scheuer himself makes in his book – which is a driving force behind al Qaeda's extremism and terrorism.
Never mind the fact that one of the ways al Qaeda seeks to generate support amongst Muslims, both for themselves and for the idea of the re-establishment of the caliphate, is by attacking Western targets, obscuring the fact that much of the damage and violence launched by bin Laden and his minions have been against other Muslims.Mr. Scheuer needs to brush up on his Islamic history a bit, and he should start by reading his own book.