This critique of the War on Terror calls on the United States to switch from primarily military to almost exclusively ideological operations against al-Qaeda.
Osama bin Laden not only wishes to restore the Caliphate abolished by Turkey’s Kemal Ataturk in 1924, writes longtime intelligence and combat veteran Nance, but he also desires to revert to pre-12th-century Islam, before it came under assault by Crusaders, Mongols and a hierarchy that tolerated impurity. Under “bin Ladenism,” Muslims must shun not just non-Muslims but also anyone not conforming to the most rigid customs of Islam. In this view, far from embodying the mainstream of Islam, “bin Ladenism” is one of the schisms that have splintered the religion since its founding. Unfortunately, the Bush administration, Nance contends, played into the hands of this cult leader by calling for a “crusade.” Allowing him to escape to Pakistan while concentrating instead on Iraq was “akin to stopping WWII after D-Day and ordering an invasion of Mexico.” Nance is at his best in analyzing a foe more decentralized since the fall of the Taliban—boosted, post-invasion, by successful recruitment; able to destabilize the Mideast, driving up oil prices to economically harmful levels; and masters of a viral “media campaign” involving audiotapes and the Internet. Nance’s extensive military expertise should lend credibility to his debates on terror, but he undercuts his authority with overly partisan invective: George W. Bush is likened to “a rampaging rhino destroying all in its path” and Barack Obama to “[t]he best tool in our quiver, next to the great character of the American people themselves.” Given the adaptable enemy the author summarizes, can his massive campaign of counter-ideology and debate, “CIRCUIT BREAKER,” really damage al-Qaeda “to the point of complete incapacitation in less than twenty-four months?”
An often cogent argument weakened by unnecessary repetition and vitriol—reads like a hybrid of a counterinsurgency manual and a consultant’s business plan.