Tuesday May 03, 2011
Osama + Arnold
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, surveying the books about Osama bin Laden:
As for the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, most of these books agree that it was a terrible misstep that played into Bin Laden’s hands, fueling Qaeda recruitment efforts and diverting critical military and intelligence resources away from Afghanistan, which in turn led to the resurgence there of the Taliban. Peter L. Bergen’s new book, “The Longest War,” provides a devastating indictment of the Bush administration on many levels, from its failure to heed warnings about a terrorist threat, to its determination to conduct the war in Afghanistan on the cheap, to its costly, unnecessary and inept occupation of Iraq.
Both “The Longest War” and Lawrence Wright’s “Looming Tower” give readers a visceral sense of what day-to-day life was like in Qaeda training camps. Mr. Wright, noting that Bin Laden was not opposed to the United States because of its culture or ideas but because of its political and military actions in the Islamic world, observes that Qaeda trainees often watched Hollywood thrillers at night ( Arnold Schwarzenegger movies were particular favorites) in an effort to gather tactical tips.