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Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror Hardcover – 23 Mar 2004


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Product details

  • 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: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,206,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

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

Review

'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 administration’s 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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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Andrew L Bolton on 13 April 2004
Format: Hardcover
Richard Clarke's book is an authoritative insight into the machinations of the US political system. It documents 20 years of work within the White House covering counter-terrorism activities, under Presidents Reagan, Bush the elder, Clinton and Bush the younger. Although the book is one man's recollection, it appears complete and comprehensive, especially when discussing policy issues, decision-making (or lack of it) and politico-military options relating to, and contributing to, world events.
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.")!
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence C. Moss on 28 Mar. 2004
Format: Hardcover
The important point of this book is not whether Clinton or Bush was more to blame for failing to prevent 9/11. It seems clear that neither administration would have been able to muster the political will from Congress, the American public, or foreign allies, that would have allowed an invasion of Afghanistan or other military measures sufficient to so disrupt Al Qaeda that the attack might have been prevented.
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
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Guy Liddell on 23 Mar. 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book provides a fascinating insight into what was going on in the corridors of power within the White House from the Twin Towers atrocity right up to the war in Iraq. The writer's style is authoritative and compelling and leaves the reader in no doubt that the facts are as written and that the conclusions the author reaches are valid - the war on Iraq was a "done deal" and nothing to do with world terrorism.
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...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By apressello on 22 July 2006
Format: Paperback
This highly readable book is a fascinating first-person account by Richard Clarke, America's "terrorism czar" for three US Presidents. Just touching on the first Bush presidency, most of the work is dedicated to explaining White House thinking and strategy against Al Qaida during Clinton's presidency, as well as presenting an unflattering portrait of George W. Bush's national security priorities during his first term. (Clarke resigned near the end of Bush's first term.)

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.
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