In 2004 a small group of Americans and Europeans held a series of meetings in Beirut with senior members of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood. And in early 2005, a larger group of former senior American and European government officials and diplomats travelled to Lebanon for talks with these ‘terrorist leaders’. The discussions were detailed, wide ranging, blunt, and often uncomfortable, but they touched on a wide variety of subjects: on democracy, Israel, Al-Qaeda, violence and terrorism. The result was startling: a conviction among the participants that the United States and its allies had gotten the ‘War on Terror’ wrong, dangerously wrong. Now, in this inside account, one of the leaders of these delegations details how those unprecedented discussions – and an opening that was engineered between American military officers and Iraqi insurgents based in Amman – has helped to convince American and European policymakers to recast the war on terrorism, providing a fundamental shift in Western strategy.
How to Lose the War on Terror is not only an on-the-ground, real-time account of how ‘talking’ and ‘listening’ to the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood is beginning to shift American and European perceptions, but how groups that the West once viewed as ‘dead enders’ and ‘enemies of freedom’ are now slowly being recruited in the war against America and Europe’s real enemies — Al-Qaeda and its ‘Salafist’ allies.
How to Lose the War on Terror is a dramatic narrative of the crippling strategic and intellectual mistakes that have mired the West in an unwinnable war. It is one of those rare books that suggests a way forward in a conflict whose victory depends less on force than it does on a realistic understanding of the true enemy and a comprehension of the challenges we all face. After seven years of getting it wrong, is the West finally getting it right? Mark Perry’s startling account helps to answer that question.
‘In this book, Mark Perry allows us to hear different voices and different language from those whom we have all too easily written off as murderers and terrorists. Perry understands the basic truth that too many of us have forgotten – that there is not one truth, but many.’ –– Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker
‘Very few westerners understand the Middle East and its politics as well as Mark Perry, and the reason for his insights lie in this book: unlike most diplomats, journalists and academics, he derives his knowledge of organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Sunni national resistance in Iraq not from second hand sources but close personal contact. Not only has he talked to those generally labelled and dismissed as terrorists, he offers here a clear definition of when such groups are worth talking to, in the sense that doing so may create real opportunities for peace, and when (as in the case of Al Qaeda) they clearly aren’t. Beautifully written, this is both a gripping narrative and a piece of compelling advocacy, casting new light on some of the historic catastrophes of the present and recent past.’ –– David Rose, Vanity Fair
‘How to Lose the War on Terror is a dramatic narrative of the crippling strategic and intellectual mistakes that have mired the West in an unwinnable war. … Beautifully written, this is both a gripping narrative which casts new light on some of the historic catastrophes of the present and recent past.’ — The Muslim World Book Review
Mark Perry is the author of seven books, including A Fire In Zion: the Israeli-Palestinian Search for Peace. He is a director of Conflicts Forum, which conducted the 2005 meetings between the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood.