Ted Koppel joins the U.S. political elite’s ship of fools

On 12 September 2010, the Washington Post published a much-discussed and highly praised OpEd by former ABC journalist Ted Koppel. The gist of the article is that Washington’s response to 9/11 amounted to playing into bin Laden’s hands. Well, no kidding.

Needless to say, Mr. Koppel argues that the world began on 9/11 and that all of today’s troubles stem from Mr. Bush’s time in office — what a coincidence the piece came on the eve of midterm elections! He of course neglects to mention that Mr. Clinton, more than anyone else, is responsible for the war America is fighting today against al-Qaeda and its Islamist allies. Still, there is more than enough abject failure for the last three presidents to share, including the sainted Mr. Obama, who is mentioned but once in Mr. Koppel’s article.

Mr. Koppel’s essay is a partisan political commercial meant to support the Democrats and it is wrong on many counts. Indeed, Mr. Koppel’s article is much like those we see defending the Bush administration’s war-making activities in Republican venues; in both instances, partisanship and lust for office triumphs over concern for genuine U.S. national security interests.

Mr. Koppel says: “Al-Qaeda is an organized terrorist group.”

Wrong: Al-Qaeda is an organized, worldwide insurgent group. Had it been anything remotely resembling a traditional “terrorist group” the CIA’s successes against it before 9/11 would have exterminated it. But because it is an insurgent group, it cannot be decapitated, which we have proven indisputably by the failure of covert action, drones, rendition, and Special Forces operations meant to destroy al-Qaeda’s leadership. Finally, terrorist groups are lethal nuisances; al-Qaeda poses a national security threat to the United States.

Mr. Koppel says: “The Bush administration’s initial response to 9/11 was just about right.”

Wrong: The Bush administration’s initial response to Afghanistan was perhaps the single most irresponsible and self-defeating military-political initiative ever launched in U.S. history. The Bush invasion of Afghanistan captured a few cities; installed an incompetent, unrepresentative, and apparently gangster-like man as president; and deployed too few troops to prevent all of our enemies from escaping to fight another day. Bush, Rumsfeld, and the other boy-warrior advocates of the “light-footprint, win-their-hearts-and-minds approach” ensured that the U.S. would be defeated in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only workable post-9/11 plan for Afghanistan was a massively destructive 12-15 month punitive expedition against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and their civilian supporters, to be followed by an immediate withdrawal with a frank acknowledgment that the same punishment — or worse — might need to be applied again at a later date.

Mr. Koppel says: “As for the 100,000 U.S. troops in or headed to Afghanistan … [they are there because] Pakistan has an arsenal of 60 to 100 nuclear warheads. Were any of those to fall into the hands of al-Qaeda’s fundamentalist allies in Pakistan, there is no telling what the consequences would be.”

Wrong multiple times:

  • Our troops are in Afghanistan to destroy our Islamist enemies who intend to attack the United States at home and abroad. That U.S. and NATO forces have and will fail to do so does not change the only rational and worthwhile mission for our troops.
  • Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is in danger because U.S.-NATO forces have been in Afghanistan for 9 years; because the Alliance refuses to do anything to help itself and dragooned Pakistan’s army into fighting its war; and because of the stupidity of the Pakistani government in agreeing to do so, thereby causing a civil war in Pakistan. The fact is that the longer we stay fecklessly milling about in Afghanistan and pleading with Pakistan to do more of our fighting, the greater chance there is of a nuclear weapon going to the Islamists.
  • There is every way of “telling what the consequences would be” if the Islamists get a nuclear weapon: They will try to get it into the United States and, if successful, they will detonate it in a major city. (NB: They have religious authorization to kill up to 10 million Americans with nuclear weapons.)

Mr. Koppel says: “America’s war on terrorism is widely perceived throughout Pakistan as a war on Islam.”

Wrong: No, the United States government is perceived throughout the Muslim world as being at war with Islam. Mr. Koppel suffers from the same arrogant racism that infects all of our bipartisan elites: He and they believe that Muslims are too stupid and primitive to be able to distinguish between Americans — who most Muslims treat, as individuals, with the utmost courtesy and regard as generous, hard-working, and religious — and the U.S. government. The best polling available shows nearly 80-percent of Muslims worldwide — men and women, young and old, moderate and extremist — identify Washington’s foreign policy, and not Americans, as intending to undermine or destroy Islam. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have strengthened this perception, but it is foolish to think that ending the wars — or the rendition, Guantanamo Bay, and interrogation issues Mr. Koppel ritualistically anguishes over — would change the perception of Muslims. As long as bipartisan Washington stays on the Arab Peninsula, plays utterly loyal employee to its Israel-First paymasters, and promotes Arab tyranny Muslims will believe the U.S. government is waging war on Islam.

Mr. Koppel asks: “Could bin Laden, in his wildest imaginings, have hoped to provoke greater chaos?”

Answer: Yes, and he did not just hope but counted on being able to produce the chaos that is now coming to the United States. Osama bin Laden knows his Muslim brethren and the U.S. bipartisan elite better than most U.S. leaders are willing to recognize. He knew, for example, that Muslims would refuse to go to war and kill themselves because of U.S. elections, emancipated women, and draft beer. He also knew that Muslims would fight to defend their faith and brethren against U.S. government attack. He likewise knew that neither U.S. party would ever change U.S. policy supporting Israel and Arab tyrants, and that those and other policies would eventually motivate young U.S.-citizen Muslim males to attack targets inside the United States. Thus, not only did bin Laden know the chaos his actions would ignite, he correctly predicted that the bipartisan U.S. governing elite would to lie to Americans about their attackers’ motivation until the jihad had time to take root in North America.

After reading Mr. Koppel’s OpEd I recalled that my dad always warned warn his kids that they should not put much stock in what TV journalists said because they simply read what someone else wrote from a teleprompter. Given his OpEd in the Post, my Dad’s advice seems better than ever, and one hopes Mr. Koppel does not sally forth with any more analysis or recommendations that he writes himself.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and he helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.