Monday, June 22, 2009

Against All Enemies, by Richard A. Clarke

This audio book was 11 hours and 54 minutes long, and was narrated by Alan Nebelthau.

I had heard all the detractors, my fellow conservatives, pick this book apart and speak of Richard Clarke as if he were the worst traitor. But I wanted to read this book for myself and draw my own conclusions. Now that I have done that, I will share with you my assessment of this book.

It is pretty fast moving and engrossing reading. Clarke begins with the horror of September 11, 2001, and then retraces his steps as he worked for 3 US Presidents before George W. Bush. He had a ringside seat to many decisions made about US policy on terrorism, and was a major player in some of the counter-terrorism efforts made under Bill Clinton's administration.

If I didn't pay any attention to the news at all since the early 1990s, I would have to believe that George W. Bush and his administration made every conceivable error leading up to 9-11, and that the justification of the Iraq War was a total fabrication by Bush, Cheney, and Condi Rice, who just wanted an excuse to go back and in and finish what George H.W. Bush did not. This book is a pretty tight argument for scorning both Bush Administrations for all time as a collection of bunglers unequaled in American history.

I truly did enjoy this book because I do believe that it will be instructive for generations to come, and because it shows us enough of the workings of counter-terrorism to actually give us hope that there is rhyme and reason to how terrorism is fought. However, there is just enough missing, and just enough that smells wrong to cost Clarke some credibility points. For instance, he makes a great deal of his information that demonstrates there was absolutely no reason for invading Iraq. Yet, it is completely ignored that Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, was in violation of the UN's orders to comply with the dismantling of his nuclear and biological weapons program for 12 years. This was worth mentioning, even if he just wanted to discount it for some reason.

Read with a healthy dose of skepticism, but with the sobering realization that mistakes were made that led to 9-11, and that mistakes were certainly made afterward, this is a four star book.

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