Books and literature

Although al-Qaeda was unvanquished it was also unable to repeat its startling triumph. America was sinking ever more deeply into unpromising, fantastically expensive wars in the Muslim world—following the script that had been written by bin Laden. Repeatedly, he had outlined his goal of drawing America into such conflicts with the goal of bleeding the […]

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The fateful decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq in 2003 revivified the radical Islamist agenda. Simultaneous wars in two Muslim countries lent substance to bin Laden’s narrative that the West was at war with Islam… Although bin Laden and his cohort were essentially reduced to virtual presences on the Internet and […]

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One can ask, at this point, whether 9/11 or some similar tragedy might have happened without bin Laden to steer it. The answer is certainly not. Indeed, the tectonic plates of history were shifting, promoting a period of conflict between the West and the Arab Muslim world; however, the charisma and vision of a few […]

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Although the notes don’t reflect it, a vote was taken [in August 1988] to form a new organization aimed at keeping jihad alive after the Soviets were gone. It is difficult to imagine these men agreeing on anything, but only Abu Hajer voted against the new group. Abu Rida summarized the meeting by saying that […]

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Describing the period in the 1980s when Osama bin Laden was emerging as a major private fundraiser for the mujahideen resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan: The lure of an illustrious and meaningful death was especially powerful in cases where the pleasures and rewards of life were crushed by government oppression and economic deprivation. From […]

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In closing, a few words can be said about other aspects of the PCF [Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change]. The complete ignoring of the 2020 target illustrates the power of the Canadian dynamic of policy failure set out in chapter 1. Disguising the lack of will and effort needed to achieve an […]

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Yaks grunted and snorted around the tent, munching closer and closer. I shook the tarp to provoke a retreating thunder of hoofs. Against the distant drone of traffic I could hear the delicate pinging of flies trapped between the tent’s inner and outer walls. I lay in my sleeping bag, aching all over, and fervently […]

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In one of the Dan Carlin Hardcore History series, he describes a discussion with a mentor who explained to him that the hardest thing about understanding history is forgetting how we know things will turn out. That impairs our ability to understand why people behaved as they did at the time, particularly because we over-estimate […]

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Besides, the historian William Cronon argues that there is nothing “natural” about wilderness, that it is a deeply human construct, “the creation of very particular human cultures at very particular moments in human history.” Though I might be appalled by Marco Polo’s failure to swoon at mountains and deserts along the Silk Road, wilderness in […]

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Spies tend to make extravagant claims for their craft, but the reality of espionage is that it frequently makes little lasting difference. Politicians treasure classified information because it is secret, which does not necessarily render it more reliable than openly accessible information, and frequently makes it less so. If the enemy has spies in your […]

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