Examines America's war on terror, both before and after September 11th, including what went right or wrong, the operations of al Qaeda, the Department of Homeland Security, and other crucial actions of the Bush administration.
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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
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.... Read more ›
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.... Read more ›
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...
On 25 January 2001, Clarke proposed 'urgently' a plan to eliminate Al Qa'ida, but the Bush government took no notice because it was fixated on Iraq. Clarke consistently pointed out to them that there had been no Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the USA since 1993. (Last September, Bush at last admitted that there was 'no evidence that Iraq was involved in the September 11 attacks'.) Clarke's first Cabinet-level meeting on terrorism was on 4 September 2002, just seven days before the attacks on the USA; he first briefed the President on terrorism on the day of the attack.
The day after, Clarke went to the White House expecting " to go back to a round of meetings examining what the next attacks could be, what our vulnerabilities were, what we could do about them in the short term. Instead, I walked into a series of discussions about Iraq. At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting al Qaeda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq. Since the beginning of the administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq."
He writes, "Many thought that the Bush administration was doing a good job of fighting terrorism when, actually, the administration had squandered the opportunity to eliminate al Qaeda and instead strengthened our enemies by going off on a completely unnecessary tangent, the invasion of Iraq.... Read more ›
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