- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (18 December 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465083579
- ISBN-13: 978-0465083572
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.6 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
The Age Of Terror Paperback – Import, 18 Dec 2002
About the Author
Strobe Talbott is the Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and a former foreign-affairs columnist for Time magazine. He was Deputy Secretary of State under Bill Clinton.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter mobile phone number.
|5 star (0%)|
|4 star (0%)|
|3 star (0%)|
|2 star (0%)|
|1 star (0%)|
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Some topics are inspired (how to foster cooperation between the private sector and the military establishment) and others are predictable (foreign policy, civil liberties, and radical Islam). For the most part the authors showed great prescience in their outline of the issues that would confront the United States. The weakest chapter, ironically, covers the most obvious problem: the tension between national security and civil liberties. Conversely, the best essay is the most complex: how to harness American ingenuity to devise new technologies to confront terrorists. Proximity to the attacks did not really effect the quality of the work; those essays that are good would have been so regardless of when written, and the few that fall short would not have improved with time for reflection. The authors all are experts in their respective fields, and if anything this book shows that America's elites were not as caught off guard as it seemed in the first days after the Pentagon and World Trade Center were attacked.
This book is a good overview of terror-related policy issues and at times provides a surprising degree of depth. That it worked at all, let alone holds up, is a pleasant surprise and a tribute to the editors and contributors.
Among the more provocative essays in The Age of Terror" is the one by Charles Hill, a former aide to Secretaries of State Kissinger, Haig, and Shultz. Hill's chapter, entitled "A Herculean Task: The Myth and Reality of Arab Terrorism," demolishes what Hill considers to be a series of "deceptive and dangerous myths" that have sprung up following 9/11: that "America faces an entirely new kind of challenge;" that "we brought this on ourselves;" that there are "legitimate grievances about poverty and oppression" that "leave those afflicted with no choice but to take up terrorism;" and that "nothing we do can be effective against such a threat." Even more provocatively, Hill blasts "the miserable state of politics and governance" in the Arab world, plus the tendency of Arabs to blame all their problems on warped conspiracy theories (i.e, the Mossad was behind 9/11) and bluntly states: "Every regime of the Arab-Islamic world has proved a failure. Not one has proved able to provide its people with realistic hope for a free and prosperous future." On the contrary, Hill argues that Arab regimes have intentionally served up a "combination of internal oppression and propaganda to generate rage against external enemies." In this soil, according to Hill, " religiously inflamed terrorists take root" and thrive. Hill then concludes his fascinating, thought-provoking essay with a classic literary analogy, comparing the current fight against terrorism to the "twelve labors of Hercules." And just as Hercules required "intelligence," "patience," "fortitude" "the willingness and ability to undertake diverse and difficult tasks," "methods other than direct, main force" at times; the assistance of allies, and continued respect for "properly constituted laws and procedures of justice" to successfully complete his labors, so shall we in our current struggle. Hill leaves us with fighting words fit for Hercules: "those who commit acts of war will be warred upon until they surrender or die."
Paul Kennedy's essay, "Maintaining American Power: From Injury to Recovery," to this reviewer's mind is somewhat repetitive of earlier arguments he has made, particularly in his best-known book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. Kennedy stumbles early on when he states unequivocally that 9/11 has led "not just to short-term, military responses...but also to a re-examination of many aspects of the American way of life, of America's attitude toward other countries." Huh? It has? Where? Not in the Bush Administration, that's for sure! After that, Kennedy hits his stride, arguing forcefully (as he has in the past) that the U.S. needs to utilize and strengthen all of the elements of its power: military/industrial, economic, and diplomatic. Kennedy sharply criticizes the Bush Administration's strong tendency towards unilateralism and apparent disrespect for international organizations and alliances, while arguing for an essentially realpolitik "smart diplomacy." Finally, Kennedy warns of the "danger of overreaction and overextension" to the "dreadful and unjustified shock" of 9/11, and prophecizes that the U.S. may find that the 21st century is "even more tricky to navigate, and even more turbulent, than...the century just gone."
Aside from the Hill, Ferguson, and Kennedy essays, other chapters in The Age of Terror ably cover such topics as: the role of science (and strengthening America's scientific base) in the post-9/11 world (Maxine Singer); flaws in U.S. foreign policy--inconsistency, insensitivity, unilateralism once again--that need fixing if we are to fight the asymmetric threat of terrorism (John Lewis Gaddis); the rise of Islamic extremism and fundamentalism--"salafiyyah," Wahhabism-- in the Arab world and "its roots in the history of the Muslim sense of decline and its unhappy encounter with the dominant West;" (Abbas Amanat); the need to maintain our "most fundamental values," such as civil liberties and open debate of issues, while fighting terror (Harold Hongju Koh); and the need for improved intelligence and homeland security while learning as a society how to "live with terrorism" (Paul Bracken). In sum, if you want to understand why 9/11 happened and where we might go from here, I strongly recommend that you read this excellent, well-written, thought-provoking book.
My one criticism of the book lies in the lack of any attempt to synthesize some of the ideas into a coherent set of policy choices. Given the political experience of Strobe Talbott and Charles Hill, among others, this team could have taken the time to combine some of their thoughts into policy options that our current leaders could consider. Instead, the editors succumbed to the publisher's pressure to rush to market before the window of opportunity created by 9/11 passed.
Other than the above criticism, I found the majority of the essays insightful and informative, even though I have stayed very current on these issues since my profession requires a firm understanding of the national security environment. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in surveying the opinions of many of the foremost historians and other professionals in our society today.