Top positive review
28 people found this helpful
Finally, a clear account of the CIA's failings
on 29 May 2003
This book provides a fascinating insight into the counter terrorism failings of the CIA, which were graphically illustrated by the events of Sept 2001. Robert Baer gives the reader a lucid account of the CIA's operations in the counter terrorism fields of the middle east from the mid 1970's to date. In particular, his writing provides an insight into how terrorist networks operate and interact and the difficulties in inflitrating such organisations from the outside, along with the CIA's reliance on technological espionage over human contacts (which effectively curtailed the quality of information available to them), and the gradual overtaking of intelligence gathering by political survival (especially oil interests).
Baer spends a great deal of time analysing the 1983 US embassy bombing in Beirut to determine the true perpetrators of this crime, arriving at some interesting conclusions, whilst also giving a very good account of what it must have been like to operate in Beirut in the early 1980's at the height of the troubles there.
The book also provides some great detail regarding the situation in Iraq and the proposed 1996 uprising by Kurds, defecting Iraqi generals and the INC, which was eventually vetoed by the White House at the last minute. This section has taken on a new relevance in light of the recent invasion, and raises serious questions about the need for the war in 2003 given the opportunities available in both 1991 and 1996 to overthrow Saddam.
However, for me, the most interesting part of this book was its take on Iran, who according to Baer are the principal sponsors (and indeed perpetrators) of terrorism in the 1980's and 1990's. If the US is indeed keen on eradicating terrorism as we know it, and if Baer's observations are correct, then it is no doubt only a matter of time before the US will go after them in some form. Such a move could have grave consequences for people all around the world, igniting much of the animosity in the middle east towards the US even further.
All in all, a fascinating book that really does give the reader an insight into the intricate web that is terrorism, espionage and global politics, whilst retaining a great deal of relevance in today's turbulent climate.