Osama bin Laden’s recommended reading list has been growing. The surprise isn’t that the al Qaeda-approved books all condemn Jewish influence on US policy — but that the authors in effect return the favor.
In his latest audiotape, the al Qaeda leader urges Americans to read “The Israel Lobby” by academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and Jimmy Carter’s “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” This adds to his earlier endorsement of the writings of former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer.
In their book and other writings, Mearsheimer and Walt denounce what they call the “stranglehold” that American Jewish and allied groups supposedly have on US foreign policy. Carter, for his part, scores the “domineering” influence on American politics of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group.
Scheuer, meanwhile, has declared that both the Democratic and Republican parties are “owned by AIPAC,” and that Israeli spies are “popping up all over” in America. He has called the establishment of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington part of what is “probably the most successful covert-action program in the history of man.”
All this fits neatly with bin Laden’s own demented ideology. Outsized views of Jewish power, a classical anti-Semitic theme, permeate the ranks of al Qaeda. Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s No. 2 and its chief theoretician, says that in America and the West, “Jews are in control of the media and propaganda tools,” and that “the world’s Jewish government” stands behind anti-Islamic movements worldwide.
But now there’s some mutual backscratching: Bin Laden’s endorsees are calling for America to pull out of Afghanistan — which is also Osama’s top demand these days.
Just this Tuesday, Mearsheimer and Walt signed an open letter to President Obama saying that the US war effort is becoming “increasingly detached from considerations of length, cost and consequences.” They call on Obama to scale back US forces and “focus on negotiations with moderate Taliban elements,” a step that would surely please bin Laden highly. Carter, for his part, opposes an Iraq-style surge in Afghanistan: “Every time we launch one of our unmanned drones from Kansas and kill 100 people,” he says, “we make 100,000 new enemies.”
Scheuer has long opposed the US involvement in Afghanistan, which he calls “wretchedly ill-conceived.” Curiously for an ex-CIA analyst, he also admires bin Laden, describing him (without citing any evidence) as “the most respected, loved, romantic, charismatic and perhaps able figure in the last 150 years of Islamic history.” He also calls him “gentle, generous, talented and personally courageous.” Yes, gentle.
The authors whom bin Laden has endorsed are neither his dupes nor his unwitting agents. They’re simply unhinged in their own right.
Debate over the Afghan war is healthy. But it’s worth noting the alarming overlap of some voices here at home and those of the very forces we’re fighting.
Gabriel Schoenfeld, a Hudson Institute senior fellow, is a resident scholar at the Witherspoon Institute.