- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; First Edition edition (23 Mar. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743260244
- ISBN-13: 978-0743260244
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.7 x 23.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,498,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror Hardcover – 23 Mar 2004
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Few political memoirs have made such a dramatic entrance as that by Richard A Clarke. During the week of the initial publication of Against All Enemies, Clarke was featured on 60 Minutes, testified before the 9/11 commission, and touched off a raging controversy over how the presidential administration handled the threat of terrorism and the post-9/11 geopolitical landscape. Clarke, a veteran Washington insider who advised presidents Reagan, George HW Bush, Clinton and George W Bush, dissects each man's approach to terrorism but levels the harshest criticism at the latter Bush and his advisors who, Clarke asserts, failed to take terrorism and al-Qaeda seriously. Clarke details how, in light of mounting intelligence of the danger al-Qaeda presented, his urgent requests to move terrorism up the list of priorities in the early days of the administration were met with apathy and procrastination and how, after the attacks took place, Bush and key figures such as Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney, turned their attention almost immediately to Iraq, a nation not involved in the attacks.
Against All Enemies takes the reader inside the Beltway beginning with the Reagan administration, who failed to retaliate against the 1982 Beirut bombings, fuelling the perception around the world that the United States was vulnerable to such attacks. Terrorism becomes a growing but largely ignored threat under the first President Bush, whom Clarke cites for his failure to eliminate Saddam Hussein, thereby necessitating a continued American presence in Saudi Arabia that further inflamed anti-American sentiment. Clinton, according to Clarke, understood the gravity of the situation and became increasingly obsessed with stopping al-Qaeda. He had developed workable plans but was hamstrung by political infighting and the sex scandal that led to his impeachment. But Bush and his advisers, Clarke says, didn't get it before 9/11 and they didn't get it after, taking a unilateral approach that seemed destined to lead to more attacks on Americans and American interests around the world. Clarke's inside accounts of what happens in the corridors of power are fascinating and the book, written in a compelling, highly readable style, at times almost seems like a fiction thriller. But the threat of terrorism and the consequences of Bush's approach to it feel very sobering and very real. --John Moe, Amazon.com
'Against All Enemies is bound to fuel debate' -- Independent
'[Richard Clarke's] account is perhaps the most devastating yet...This is an insightful and fluent tale' -- Observer
Mr Clarke, contends that the Bush administrations has debilitated the war on terrorism and threatened security -- Financial Times 23/03
...bound to fuel debate - whether this Bush Administration could have done more to prevent September 11th -- Independent 22/03
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Top Customer Reviews
Where Clarke's book becomes really interesting, even more so than the recording of history, is when comparing various Presidents' style. As someone who strongly disagrees with virtually all government actions, it was valuable to gain insight to the processes, or lack thereof, used by the various Presidents.
I can understand why the current White House is concerned with this critical book, from a credible and authoritative source. It really discredits many of the actions of Bush, Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Ashcroft, as well as the FBI, CIA and even Joint Chiefs of Staff. Few in the Bush administration come out of this with their credibility intact, only Colin Powell appears to have any understanding of the geopolitical consequences of action and inaction based on imprecise, dogmatic ideology, rather than a holistic view of the complexities in the real world. Unfortunately he appears to have been browbeaten by the inflexible ideologues in the Bush administration. Rather surprisingly ex-President Clinton is demonstrated to be a deep thinker who revels in the complexities of geopolitical analysis, often to the chagrin of his analysts.
This text should be mandatory reading for anyone with a vote in the forthcoming US Presidential election (and the UK General Election as this indicates what Blair was allying himself and the UK to).
If you are at all interested in the on-going geopolitical crisis then read this book (and "Holy War, Inc.")!
What is so important, and so very clear from the book, is that:
1. The Bush Administration was actually less concerned, and devoted substantially less resources and attention, to combating Al Qaeda, than the Clinton Administration. While Clinton's efforts to fight Al Qaeda were not sufficient to prevent 9/11, Bush further diminished the government's efforts.
2. The Bush Administration made a catastrophic mistake in launching an unnecessary and counterproductive war against Iraq while failing to complete the job in Afghanistan or otherwise focus sufficiently on Al Qaeda after 9/11.
Prior to 9/11, neither administrations did what would have been necessary to prevent the attacks, and neither would have had the political support to do so. After 9/11 however, the Bush administration did have the political support, both domestically and internationally, to do whatever was reasonably necessary, but squandered that support on the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place, for reasons that were preconceived prior to 9/11.
These truths are so clear that they are beyond reasonable refutation, which is doubtless why the Bush administration has undertaken personal attacks on Mr. Clarke rather than any refutation of his book on its merits. With the domestic economic policies of the administration so obviously a failure, there is no rationale for the Bush administration except its supposed wisdom and skill in fighting terrorism. This book demolishes that rationale
It remains to be seen what impact the book will have on President Bush's re-election campaign but, given that this book represents the second intervention to date by people "in the know" accusing him of misleading his electorate, it could do him damage - Blair too.
We'll have to see - until then, settle back for a good read...
I think it is important to understand the context in which this book was written and published -- in the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, where President Bush and the Republican Party's strategy was to wrap themselves in the flag and "run on the war" as they had successfully done during the 2002 congressional elections.
Clarke describes his views in blunt language, and his dim view of George W. Bush's administration had the potential to be fatal to Bush's re-election prospects. A career civil servant, Clarke had to be aware that he would pay a personal and professional cost to expose the incompetence and muddle headed thinking at the highest levels of the American government. That he went ahead and did it anyway shows the depth of his convictions.
Clarke spends some time complaining about the ineffectiveness of the CIA in this book. I recommend "See No Evil" by Robert Baer as an interesting companion to this book. It's another blunt assessment of Washington politics getting in the way of fighting our enemies, this time by a CIA operative who does not share Clarke's high opinion of Clinton's anti-terrorism strategy.
Overall, this is a great insider's account of the war on terror as it was fought by the top US civil servant in charge for much of the 1990s though the end of 2001.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely great insights inside the white house mechanisms. Thrilling read and great experience shared. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Avi
Very interesting to read which reasons the government had to downplay the al-qaida threat. And fascinating to look into the machine of state that is geared to create saftey for the... Read morePublished on 16 Sept. 2013 by J. M. L. Moll
A clear and concise look at the way the American Government works and how it reacted to 9/11 and perhaps why it was allowed to happen. Read morePublished on 19 Oct. 2012 by Gus
I read the first chapter of this book while visiting Washington DC and ordered it while in America on holiday (vacation). Read morePublished on 6 Jun. 2012 by DavidC
I have degree in international affairs and a Ph.D. in strategic studies and have read hundreds of books on these issues over the past 25 years. This must rank among the top 10. Read morePublished on 29 Mar. 2011 by Carno Polo
Richard A. Clarke was at the center of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts for both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Read morePublished on 21 July 2004 by Donald Mitchell
Richard Clarke has 30 years' experience in security and was the US National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism from 1998 until he resigned in March 2003. Read morePublished on 20 May 2004 by William Podmore
"Against All Enemies," is one of the most important books in the history of the United States. I realize that statement is a mouthful... Read morePublished on 19 May 2004 by Bert Ruiz