By David Morgan
America's badly damaged image in the Muslim world could take more than a generation to set right, they say, and Bush's mounting political woes at home have undermined the chance for any bold US initiatives to address the grim social realities that feed Islamic radicalism.
"It's been fairly disastrous," said Benjamin, who worked as a director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council from 1994 to 1999.
"We have had some very important successes getting individual terrorists. But I think the broader story is really quite awful. We have done a lot to fuel the fires, and we have done a lot to encourage people to hate us," he added in an interview.
Benjamin and Simon, a former State Department official who was also at the security council, are coauthors of a new book, "The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting it Right" (Times Books).
and Simon list what they call US missteps since
Bush administration presents the war on terrorism as a difficult but largely
successful struggle that has seen the gutting of Al Qaeda's
pre-Sept. 11 leadership and prevented new attacks in the
said last month that the
White House describes
Benjamin and Simon's criticism of the Bush administration in Iraq follows a path similar to those of other critics, including former US national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and former White House counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke.
may be attacked by terrorists who receive their training in
"has given them an excellent American target in
Benjamin and Simon, the war on terrorism has cost taxpayers hundreds of
billions of dollars and failed to counter a deadly global movement responsible
for attacks in
not even Osama bin Laden, they say, could have
says there's a war of ideas out there, and I agree. The sad fact is that we're
on the wrong side," said Benjamin, now a senior fellow at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies in
anti-US rhetoric often appeals strongly to impressionable youth, Benjamin and
Simon say they think that many of today's young Muslims will harbor grievances