In his latest message to the American people, Osama bin Laden provided a list of recommended reading. “After you read the suggested books,” Osama declared, “you will know the truth, and you will be greatly shocked by the scale of concealment that has been exercised on you.” Bin Laden recommends:
1. The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. We wrote at length about the long essay that gave rise to the book when it was published in the London Review of Books and in a pseudoscholarly, heavily footnoted Kennedy School “research working paper” counterpart to the LRB essay. Mearsheimer and Walt fancy themselves the brave dissenters from a sinister pro-Israel orthodoxy. They write, for example, “Anyone who criticizes Israeli actions or says that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over U.S. Middle East policy…stands a good chance of getting labeled an anti-Semite.” These tenured faculty members of distinguished academic institutions dared to take the chance. For its sheer crudity, however, their book subjected them to the even greater chance of getting labeled charlatans. Now they can add the endorsement of Osama bin Laden to their accolades.
2. Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid, by Jimmy Carter. Steven Hayward noted that at the end of one of Carter’s freelance Middle East peace conferences a few years ago, he commented on his efforts in the Middle East: “Had I been elected to a second term, with the prestige and authority and influence and reputation I had in the region, we could have moved to a final solution.” He’s tried to make up for the second term of which he was deprived with his continuing campaign to delegitimize the state of Israel and to befriend its enemies. Bin Laden’s endorsement is a fitting tribute to Carter’s efforts.
3. While the identity of the third book is not free from doubt, it appears to be Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins. “In the book,” according to Sharon Otterman and Robert Mackey, “Mr. Perkins writes that, recruited by government agencies and an international consulting firm, he traveled the world for a decade convincing governments in the developing world to take on loans from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other international organizations they could not handle.” Otterman and Mackey note that the book elicited a response from the State Department: “Confessions — or Fantasies — of an Economic HIt Man?” The State Department observed that “Perkins claims that all this was done at the behest of the N.S.A….Perkins is apparently not aware that the National Security Agency is a cryptological (codemaking and codebreaking) organization.”
Those into pattern recongnition may doubt that Perkins’s book has been properly identified as the third item on bin Laden’s list. No such doubt pertains to the first two books.
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