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America's Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle Between the United States and its Enemies Paperback – 5 Oct 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (5 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349118922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349118925
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 361,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

[George Friedman] was on confidential terms with every head of state . . . this book goes over 9/11, its causes and consequences (SPECTATOR)

Updated by afterwords since first appearing in 2004, the book is particularly fascinating on Iran, which it notes can thank Bush for removing both its neighbours from hell, the Taliban and Saddam. (GUARDIAN)

This makes utterly compelling- and frequently scary reading. (OBSERVER)

Book Description

The true story of covert operations during the War on Terror, written by the founder of one of the most respected private intelligence agencies in the world, dubbed the 'shadow CIA

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By William Holmes on 21 Nov. 2004
Format: Paperback
Once you begin to read this book, you will find it difficult to put down. Friedman writes clearly and forcefully about the real reasons why America invaded Iraq and the role that the invasion plays in the War on Terror.
Friedman begins his narrative with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, a nightmare development that threatened to give the Soviets control of the Persian Gulf and to lead to America's expulsion from the Middle East. The Carter Administration recognized the strategic threat and began moving quickly to assemble an Islamist guerrilla force to bog down the Soviets in their own Vietnam. The US strategy was intensified by the Reagan Administration and ultimately proved successful, but it had the side effect of convincing the Islamists that they could, if they fought hard enough, topple a superpower. The presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War did much to enrage the Islamists, convincing them that their best chance of re-establishing an Islamic caliphate lay in provoking a war with the United States.
Friedman's book explores the Byzantine details of American and Islamist Realpolitik in a fairly balanced way. He argues that the invasion of Iraq was not about WMDs or connections to Al Qaeda or even about oil, but was intended to show the Islamic world (and particularly Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) that the United States meant business and that those who didn't get with the program were going to be dealt with very harshly. The fact that the United States has substantial ground and air forces within easy striking distance of Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, among others, has no doubt been noticed by the leaders of those countries, dampening their enthusiasm for tolerating Al Qaeda.
The details of this Realpolitik are not pretty.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By conjunction on 19 Nov. 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Friedman is the founder of Stratfor, a private US intelligence company based in Texas. This book purports to explain the course of US policy in the middle east since before Desert Storm, and also to account for the actions of Al Qaeda and all the relevant Islamic states, especially Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
His basic thesis is that the US thinking behind the current war is very far different from what we have been told, and that although the US did think there were some WMD they knew they weren't dangerous. The reason for the war was to establish major military bases in Iraq which could be used to base its operations against Al Quaeda and in particular to pressurise the Saudis into stopping Al Quaeda's funding and into giving the US the benefit of their intelligence.
The book also offers an explanation for what Al Quaeda is all about, ie the establishment of a panAsian Islamic state a la Caliphate, and says anti-American feeling developed after their abandonment of the Mujahideen after the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan ended, with collusion from the Arab states the mujahideen came from, who didn't want their wild boys back; and also after Desert Storm as the Wahabi faithful really didn't like US forces feeling too familiar in the middle east.
The book goes on to offer detailed analysis of how Al Quaeda operate, what they knew and didn't know, and gives an impressive picture of all the military and intelligence moves of the US and the different ideas about strategy. It basically explains that the US have done a huge amount of thinking and planning about Al Quaeda, almost none of which has been made public. This when you think about it is logical, and its interesting to read a joined up version of how it went down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Guardian TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
George Friedman is one of the founders of the Texas-based intelligence & future-forecasting organization `Stratfor'. In this 2004 book, Friedman examines the major drivers behind policy decisions in the Middle East in recent years by both the US administration & other regional players, particularly Pakistan, Iran & Saudi Arabia, & the motives & strategic thinking behind the global jihadists.

The book's strengths are a straight-to-the-point, readable & literate writing style, and succinct accurate summaries of complex subjects. Chapter 2 titled `Al Qaeda's Strategy & Operating Principles' may be the most concise, insightful summary of that organization's origins, history, motives & very careful, calculated strategy you'll ever read. Once understood at a deep level, the precise target list & nature of the 9/11 attacks & even the date the operation was carried out - September 2001 rather than August or October, or any other time - make sense in playing out the jihadists' global strategy. Friedman demonstrates truths unperceived by many western observers: attacks on US interests like the African Embassy bombings in 1998, the attack on the `Cole', the 1993 WTC `Tradebom' operation, the 9/11/2001 attacks and other similar operations did not have as their principle target audience the western world or even the US public. The target audience was the Islamic world, the `Arab Street', to demonstrate that US power is in fact weak & vulnerable; the jihadists' strategy was to inflame insurrection against secular governments throughout the Middle East.
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