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A Thought-Provoking Contribution to Our Understanding

  • Aug 7, 2004
Clarke served as a senior official in the Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, and Bush 43 administrations, specializing in terrorism. In Against All Enemies, he examines the policies and initiatives of each in response to that global threat. He is especially critical of the current administration, charging that President Bush and his key advisors (notably Vice President Cheney, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz) essentially ignored Al-Quaeda prior to September 11th (2001) and then underestimated it afterward, choosing instead to concentrate on eliminating the Saddam Hussein regime and thereby, in process, eliminate also the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. On this last point, I strongly recommend Hans Blix's Disarming Iraq. A former director of the United Nations Inspection Commission, he gives an eyewitness account of the search for weapons of mass destruction and of the events leading up to America's invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.

Several recently published books (including Clarke's and Blix's) focus on many of the same situations. For example:

1. No matter who was in the Oval Office, the U.S.A. was ill-prepared to respond to (much less prevent) numerous acts of terrorism such as the killing of 278 Marines in Lebanon, the Libyan murder of 259 passengers on Pan Am 103, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, and various events which occurred on September 11, 2001.

2. At least during the last 12-15 years, the U.S.A.'s intelligence agencies have been unwilling and/or unable to exchange information and coordinate resources effectively between and among themselves, much less with intelligence agencies in other countries (e.g. France, Germany, Israel, and Italy).

3. Despite all of its initiatives and their immense costs thus far, the U.S.A. remains vulnerable to acts of terrorism both domestically and internationally.

In Against All Enemies, Clarke offers his own analysis of situations such as these, explains their causes and effects from his perspective, then proposes what he is convinced should be done in response to them. His credentials are impressive. However, frankly, I remain confused. For that reason, I continue to learn as much as I can inorder to reach my own conclusions about matters such as these:

1. Why have members of the current administration attacked Clarke personally (ad hominem) rather than repudiate his accusations with seamless logic and indisputable evidence?

2. Would the U.S.A. have been able to create a wide, deeper, and more effective coalition of allies had the primary focus been on Al-Kaeda rather than on Iraq? If so, why was that not the primary focus? If not, why not?

3. Why was the U.S.A. so well-prepared to launch a successful invasion of Iraq but so poorly-prepared for consequent occupation? Meanwhile, the numbers of dead and wounded continue to increase each day.

4. Now what? Precisely what do both President Bush and John Kerry say in response to that question?

Richard Clarke provides his reader with a great deal of information and (yes) some very strong opinions about that information. As one of those readers, I have been encouraged to think carefully about the issues raised. To me, the questions Clarke asks are more valuable than his answers to them.

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review by . March 21, 2009
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review by . July 07, 2005
This book by Richard Clarke offers insight into America's involvement with terrorists and terrorist groups as witnessed by a person who saw it firsthand over the last two decades. The book begins with a recollection of events on September 11, 2001, goes back through the history and events leading up to it, and finishes with a commentary on the Second Gulf War and the Bush Administration's foreign policy.     This book is worth reading for numerous reasons. First, the subject …
review by . August 17, 2004
Pros: Written from the basis of verifiable facts, not supposition, or opinion.     Cons: None     The Bottom Line: By writing Against All Enemies; Inside America’s War on Terror Richard Clarke has attempted to inform the American public about our government’s failures to protect us against terrorism.     Richard Clarke closes his much (wrongly) maligned book Against All Enemies; Inside America’s War on Terror with the following paragraph: …
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Robert Morris ()
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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 ofAgainst All Enemies, Clarke was featured on60 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 had advised presidents Reagan, George H.W. 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 Enemiestakes the reader inside the Beltway beginning with the Reagan administration, who failed to retaliate against the 1982 Beirut bombings, fueling 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 ...
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ISBN-10: 0743260244
ISBN-13: 978-0743260244
Author: Richard A. Clarke
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: Free Press
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