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A Book Review
by Joy Renee

 

Against All Enemies: Inside Americaís War on Terror
By Richard A. Clarke
© 2004
Free Press
291p

Subject: 9/11/2001; War on Terror; G. W. Bush Administration and International Terrorism; Clinton Administration and International Terrorism; Al-Qaeda; Osama Bin Laden;

This is a first person account by one who witnessed the dawning realization by successive administrations that America was up against a new and formidable enemy--terrorist organizations with international networks--by a man who served in national security for seven presidents and within the Whitehouse for the last three. Clarke was also the crisis manager in the situation room on 9/11 and his account of that day is riveting. But that is just one of eleven chapters in which Clarke reveals a slow-to-evolve comprehension of this chilling global phenomenon and thus also of an effective, pro-active response policy. He places much of the blame for this fumbling of the ball on an entrenched federal bureaucracy whose world view was developed and groomed by WWII and the cold war. Thus they could not grasp the implications of a global network of co-operating individuals and non-governmental organizations with an agenda of world dominance and a strategy for confronting the last remaining superpower with tactics that a modern, high-tech military was and is unequipped to respond to--anymore than they would be equipped to respond to organized crime or urban gangs. Although an ossified bureaucracy gets a good share of the blame, Clarke emphasizes that the role of leadership is not negligible and contrasts the measurable progress made during the Clinton administrationís hands on, highly focused style with the floundering under the more laissez-faire Bush administration. After all it is in the nature of hierarchical agencies to take their cue from their leaders.

© 2004 by Joy Renee Davis

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