Richard Clarke: Against All Enemies

by Ulf on November 9th, 2008 (Permalink)

Richard Clarke: Against All EnemiesThis insider’s account of the USA‘s fight against terrorism from the Reagan administration until after 9/11 makes for gripping reading. Although Clarke apparently got a number of facts wrong, the big picture seems to be portrayed correctly. Some parts are heavily disputed, though, like the connection of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to Iraq, and whether the Clinton and Bush Jr. administration dealt adequately with al Qaeda (search online for Clarke/Mylroie to find details). But then, Clarke paints a positive image of Clinton’s actions, and a negative one of Bush Jr.’s actions, while Mylroie sees it just the other way around -and has her own books to sell- so some disagreement is to be expected.

While most people will read this book to learn about the fight against al Qaeda, it leaves me curious about two other areas. Firstly, after seeing the entertaining movie „Charlie Wilson’s War“ about the USA’s arming of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, -and noticing that the facts of the movie are generally not disputed- this book paints a rather different picture. Instead of the origin being a congressman who gets the CIA involved, Clarke talks about Morton Abramowitz of the State Dept., Richard Perle of the Dept. of Defense and himself (of course, he talks about himself and his achievements a lot in the book). The two accounts seem rather incompatible, so whom to believe?

The second point is the response to the bombing of US Army barracks in Khobar in Saudi Arabia, carried out by Iranian intelligence agents in 1996. Clarke is very shy about what the response entailed, only talking about a „worldwide choreographed intelligence action“, later adding that it was directed at the Iranian intelligence service. He’s open about the response to an earlier assassination plot against President Bush Sr. by the Iraqi intelligence service -a bombing of the intelligence service‘s headquarter-, and notes that both retaliations served in deterring the respective countries from carrying out further acts of terror against the USA. So what was the response? Anybody care to speculate?

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