Review: The Lucifer Principle–A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History (Paperback)

5 Star, America (Anti-America), Complexity & Catastrophe, History, Religion & Politics of Religion, Science & Politics of Science, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution

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5.0 out of 5 stars Time to Dust This One Off–Anticipated Radical Islam and Offers Core Ideas for Surviving,

April 9, 2006
Howard Bloom
Buy and read this book if for no other reason than that the author foresaw the global radicalization of Islam against the West in terms much starker than Samuel Huntington's clash of civilizations and much broader than Yossef Bodansky's brilliant tome on “Bin Laden: the Man Who Declared War on America.

Leon Uris is quoted on the cover as saying that this book is “an act of astonishing intellectual courage,” and I will say that the author has pulled together an extraordinary collage of details in an intricately assembled “story” in which he challenges the assumptions of a number of major conventional intellects. There are 58 “parts” to this book, each part between two and six pages long, with an astounding array of multi-disciplinary quotes and footnotes. No scared ox goes ungored.

Some of the history in this book, of the origin of Mohammed as a possible lunatic and then a vengeful warrior using religion to grab real estate, and of the early split between Sunni and Shiite over the issue of the succession, is very useful today.

The author centers the disparate and very broad-ranging pieces of the book on three core ideas: Earth as a superorganism within which a tribe or religion is itself a superorganism; memes as unifying ideas that create us versus them for the sake of changing the pecking order and feeding off weaker tribes, and–in the only optimistic note in the book, at the end, of collaboration and information sharing as the only means to break out of the pattern of dog eat dog.

He specifically slams religion, and especially fundamentalist religion, as a false god that substitutes faith for control, and as a tool of controlling elites who need to keep the impoverished masses from waking up to the raw fact that masses of people can indeed “take over” factories and estates.

On page 94 the following quote struck me as applying equally to George Bush and Osama Bin Laden: “Leaders like Orville Faubus and Fidel Castro have skillfully manipulated a few basic rules of human nature: that every tribe regards outsiders as fair game; that every society gives permission to hate; that each culture dresses the demon of hatred in the garb of righteousness; and that the man who channels this hatred can rouse the superorganism and lead it around by the nose.”

There are numerous gifted phrases throughout this book, and I can understand the frustration of some in absorbing this dizzying array of data points, but it is surely worth making the effort.

He makes much of the evolution of the brain from reptile (survival) to mammalian (social) to primate (individual) and emphasizes that even the most advanced humans still have all three brains in some form, with the lower forms subject to arousal.

Overall I rate this book one of the ten most useful books relevant to understanding and defeating radical Islam, which the author says is “a meme growing ravenous,” a sleeping giant that has been awakened. He goes back in time to look at how the US, in forcing the French and English to give up the Suez Canal, actually helped inspire Arabia to plan for a day when the West might be sent packing. Similar, the first Gulf War, when the Coalition defeated Iraq, undermined secular Moslem regimes, and further inspired Islamic fundamentalists.

In the author's view we erred gravely in not understanding the asymmetric scope of the threat of Bin Laden and post-Taliban Afghanistan, and we appear to have erred in a truly gigantic way in not seeing that the second Gulf War was in fact doing Iran's bidding and accomplishing something Iran could never have done on its own. The author views Bin Laden as having replaced Russia as a “friend” to the Third World, and anticipates both a rapid spread of Islam among the poor, and a plague of animosity toward to the USA specifically.

The book includes a fascination discussion of psycho-social aspects of nations and tribes and other social groups including religions. While some have been derisive of his discussion of “pecking orders” I believe–having lived overseas most of my life–that he nails it. Not only does instability cause the accepted pecking order to go out the window, but prosperity actually destabilizes established pecking orders. When we eventually implement the grand vision of Jeffrey Sachs (see my review of “The End of Poverty” we will need to be very mindful of the animal force that will be unleashed at the same time, and not make the mistake we made in Iraq, of failing to plan for stabilization and reconstruction.

The last two ideas in this book that really grabbed me are from page 292, on how America began a perceptual shut-down and decline from 1973 onwards, culminating in the cheating culture and lazy obese children and parents that are the bane of most teachers' lives today. America is in “slow” mode and has lost its competitive drive.

The book was hugely ambitious, and it is easy to be snide, as some reviewers are, but I for one found this as close to genius and as close to breath-taking intellectual derring-do as any book I have read in a while. If America is to survive the multiple threats to the Republic, it will take leaders capable of reading and understanding this book, and implementing a 100 year strategy for winning the six front war, beginning on the home front with a draconian reform of our educational and information sharing and distance learning environment.

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Review: Death to America–The Unreported Battle of Iraq (Paperback)

5 Star, America (Anti-America)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Work for a Teen-Ager–Future Brilliant Analyst,

October 30, 2005
Ryan Mauro
NOTE: This review superceeds the written review in my third book, INFORMATION OPERATIONS: All Information, All Languages, All the Time.

I lost patience with this book after an hour of careful scrutiny of the notes and the assesertions within each chapter. However, while a mature analyst would normally receive only three stars for this work, because the author is only 19 and has done hundreds of hours of work, very good work despite the source issues, I rate this as 5 stars and a special read.

I happen to know and admire Yossef Bodansky, whose book provides the intellectual underpining for much of the book. Bodansky is the only speaker in history to be invited to address my annual conference three times, largely because of his path-finding work on Bin Laden's declaring war on America, something the CIA and FBI refused to take seriously and still do not. Where Bodansky fails, as does this diligent and intelligent young author, is in falling prey to the false sources that claim Saddam Hussein was an active supporter of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Iran, Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan are much closer to Al Qaeda, and of course their parent, Saudi Arabia.

The author is a talented young man. We have exchanged emails. I respect his intellect and his diligence, but I fear that his judgement remains somewhat immature. Virtually everyone he cites in his acknowledgements or his notes can be linked to Israeli defense committees, neo-conservative think tanks, or Jewish pro-Israel advocacy groups. This book is, in effect if not in intent (I see the author as being unwitting of the pernicious effects of his limited circle of contacts), a propaganda tract. I would go so far as to say that a substantial number of sources that he relies on are part of a nuanced and sophisticated Israeli covert action propaganda operation, in deliberate and careful connivance with the worst of the neoconservatives (the top ones having been on Israeli's payroll years ago and perhaps still today).

It fails on three levels: first, it attempts to document deep and sustained relations between Sadaam Hussein and Al Qaeda. The author's sources are generally well-known neo-cons and Jewish sources that have been discredited by, among others, CIA analyst Michael Scheur, of “Anonymous” fame, and CIA case officer Robert Bauer, who has actually been heavily engaged face to face with people this young man only knows indirectly.

Second, it supports Chalabi, the Iranian agent of influence, and claims that Jordan is trying to discredit Chalabi. The book avoids telling us that Chalabi worked under CIA funding and was fired for being a liar and a thief of funds intended for the Iraqui democratic movement; and it fails to tell us that Chalabi was convicted in absentia by Jordon of stealing millions of dollars in a bank fraud scheme.

Third, the author parrots the neo-con line on Iraq continuing to have active weapons of mass destruction capabilities, something every other adult on the planet has realized was not true–we were lied to by the White House and the neo-cons, and Dick Cheney may yet be forced to resign for his lies and his mis-direction of U.S. national security policy and behavior. We did a formal study for the U.S. Government on where the Iraqi program wents, and our conclusions were quite straight-forward: they destroyed the stocks, kept the cook-books, and exported the bulk of their experts to Amman, Jordan and to Birmingham, England. Some stocks may well have gone to Russia, Algeria, and Syria, but on balance, the relative of Hussein who defected and then was killed by Hussein when he re-defected home, had it right: the knowledge but not the capability remained. Iraq was not a threat to the US or to Israel.

The book reads well. Neo-cons and Jews who equate Israel's survival with America's survival will love it. This is not, however, a book that can be relied upon. It lacks a table of contents and an index, and its sources are largely Internet blogs and Op-Ed material from neo-conservative and pro-Israeli sources.

There are numerous turns of phrase that betray the author's naivete, including his suggestion that Bin Laden was a “super-star” as early as 1990, which is not the case. Major funding for Bin Laden's fundamentalist activities did not start until 1988. The author fails to give Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld proper credit for transfering to Saddam Hussein all the bio-chemical capabilities he desired in his war with Iran and his genocide against the Kurds during earlier Administrations.

What we have here is a good-hearted young savant who is being show-cased by neo-cons and their Jewish-Zionist allies. When he matures, and has access to better and more balanced sources in many more languages, he will surely be a superb analyst. Right now he is simply a pawn in the great game, an attractive, personable, intelligent, diligent individual who is being used to further agendas that are not in the best interests of America. We like and admire him. We have cautioned him about the company he is keeping. We wish him well and are *certain* of his future success.

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Review: Global Outrage–The Origins and Impact of World Opinion from the 1780s to the 21st Century (Paperback)

4 Star, America (Anti-America)

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4.0 out of 5 stars Misleading Title, Difficult Read, Useful Observations,

October 25, 2005
Peter Stearns
The title is misleading–Global Outrage is a bit strong–the book is actually a very long narrative about the emergence of “world opinion,” a phrase that appears innumberable times on every page. it is therefore a difficult read with no illustrations, charts, or tables. Somewhat tedious.

Removing one star, then, the book is never-the-less quite interesting in its topic, which the author says has not been systematically reviewed in the past, and its findings. The author reviews the early days of anti-slavery, women's rights, labor rights, child labor, and the environment, concluding with the new campaigns against McDonald's wrappers, sweatshops, and Central American death squads.

Among the gems that made the purchase and the effort worthwhile:

1) World opinion, when it does mobilize, is generally right.

2) World opinion is insufficient to deter a great power such as the USA from its chosen course, but it can impose great and lasting costs on that power as time goes on.

3) World opinion is equally helpless against local customs and conditions, including the economic need for child labor and the deep cultural attachment to female mutilation in some regions.

4) World opinion is a force that rises and ebbs, whose tools and techniques change across issues and times, but it is a constant force in that it exists and it can have an impact.

5) World opinion has been reduced in force by the demise of the U.S. Information Agency and the once powerful labor unions whose AFL-CIO did so much to nurture labor rights around the globe. I had two thoughts as I contemplated this observation: first, that the US and the multinationals were short-sighted in ending the one and crushing the other–it is only now that we appreciate the intangible power for good they both represented; and second, as we grapple with the needs of Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication, it is clear we need to reinvent both.

6) The book excels at pointing out across several examples that world opinion is powered by information sharing. The most important information sharing is from the bottom up–from those who are persecuted to the outside world, and then back again in the form of petitions, letters, emails, etc. Information sharing is also important across national and cultural boundaries, helping raises expectations and standards as well as the costs of non-compliance with expectations.

7) Finally, “world opinion” is put forth by the author as the means by which humanity agrees on common standards and expectations that co-exist with regional and cultural differences, and provide a shared vision for humanity.

I found the author's concluding suggestions quite relevant to the global Information Operations campaign that the USA is about to embark upon: he suggested that we need to research as deeply and broadly as possible where popular opinion rests on a wide variety of issues, and use that as a benchmark for evaluating the acceptability and sustainability of governmental politices as well as corporate practices; and we should, at least once a decade, examine the organizations, tools, and techniques of “world opinion” to see who they are changing, and if they are changing in the composition of constituencies or the focus of effort.

Concluding, the author is slightly optemistic about “world opinion” being a countervailing force against both militant Americans and radical Islamists, but he notes that “world opinion” is by no means a steady or assured power, only one that will have some form of influence, always varied.

This is an academic work, with a good index, notes, and recommended readings for each chapter. It can be tough going, but all things considered, a useful reading on that intangible power called “world opinion.”

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Review: Why the Rest Hates the West–Understanding the Roots of Global Rage (Paperback)

5 Star, America (Anti-America), Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback

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5.0 out of 5 stars Sane, Calm, Reasoned, Useful,

September 26, 2005
Meic Pearse
It takes a great deal of education, experience, and faith to write a book such as this. Originally a series of lectures, the author has developed some useful, and calmly articulated, thoughts on both why there is a disconnect between the “West” and “the Rest,” and why the West is on a downward spiral to oblivion in practical terms, with the triple whammy of declining birth rates (non-replenishment), increased longevity (generally among those who are not necessarily productive in their older years), and substantial apathy among the self-absorbed, self-righteous, and largely clueless teen-agers and 20-30 “me me me” generation.

There are many books that I have reviewed here for Amazon that support this author's personal reflections, and his citations of those books that did stimulate him are more than adequate. A few themes made by the author strike me as worthy of emphasis, for they provide a road-map for any Western society that wishes to survive into the 22nd century:

1) Morality matters. It is a historical force. Will and Ariel Durant emphasized this in their “Lessons of History,” and many strategic confrontations have borne out the point. Tribes and nations that become amoral ultimately decline and fall.

2) Western myopia cannot be understated. The ignorance of the West regarding global realities and the relationship between Western behavior (inclusive of US support for 44 dictators, immoral and predatory capitalism, virtual colonialism, and the general view of others that the West is “barbaric” in sexual and other matters of fidelity and integrity) and how others view is simply unrealistic.

3) The West fails to understand that the rest of the world, where faith and integrity and loyalty to the family and tribe are often all that keeps the entire society from disintegrating in the face of more primitive environments that we ourselves experience, wants to be modern but not Western–modern with cultural cohesion, not modern with the commoditization of the individual, which both the author of Lionel Tiger (“The Manufacture of Evil”) credit with destroying family, community, tribe, and nation.

4) The author excels at discussion how Western individuals today have lost the context of history, the reverence for tradition, the utility of specified morality. Westerners are “out of touch” with the lessons of history, out of touch with the implications of our selfish decisions in the present that have implications for the future generations.

5) The author discusses competing concepts of legitimacy, and here he goes into nuances all too often lacking in “objective” Western analysis of competing social models. He sees the value of personal versus impersonal authority in the context of societies where bureaucracy is not yet developed and kinship remains the foundation for trust.

6) The author, educated at Oxford, would agree with Philip Alcott, brilliant Cambridge scholar and author of “Health of Nations,” in dismissing most nations as false constructs inconsistent with their tribal and religious networks and beliefs. This is as true of the “Nine Nations of North America” (Joel Garreau) as it is of most of Africa, where colonialism heritage is that of inevitable genocide.

The author concludes, as one would expect of a Christian moralist, that “Nothing less than a massive cultural reversal is necessary. We need to rejoin the rest of the human race.” He focuses on the renewed relevance of religious and moral vision, and here he would find common cause with David Johnson, distinguished author of books on “Faith-Based Diplomacy” and the vital role of religion in fostering reasoned dialog between West and East.

Apart from restoring the role of morality within our over-all culture, the author concludes that we must become informed–like it or not, our lives are bound up with those of everyone else all over the world. Here he is in tight agreement with both President David Boren (former Senator) of the University of Oklahoma, and David Gergen, advisor to multiple Presidents of the United States (most of whom did not listen too well). We must internationalize and modernize our educational system, restore the importance of history and international studies, and give life to the finding of E. O. Wilson from “Consilience,” to wit, that the sciences demand the humanities if they are to be in the service of humanity.

This is a most thoughtful book, reverent in its arguments, one that reminds us all of the value that can be had from listening to or reading the careful reflections of a man of the cloth, born in Wales, educated in England, and now speaking to all of us.

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Review: Dying to Win–The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (Hardcover)

5 Star, America (Anti-America), Atrocities & Genocide, Consciousness & Social IQ, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Terrorism & Jihad, Truth & Reconciliation, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Original–A Major Contribution to Understanding,

July 12, 2005
Robert Pape
The University of Chicago is an extraordinary institution–the author, employed there, lives up to their reputation for methodical, scholarly, useful reflections grounded firmly in the facts. This work significantly advances our understanding of terrorism and of the three forms of suicidal terrorism: egotistic, altruistic, and fatalistic. The author documents his findings that most suicidal terrorists are altruistic, well-educated, nationalistically-motivated, and fully witting and dedicated to their fatal mission as a service to their community.

Of the 563 books I have reviewed–all in national security and global issues, and all but four among the best books in the field–this new work by Professor Pape stands out as startlingly original, thoughtful, useful, and directly relevant to the clear and present danger facing America: an epidemic of suicidal terrorism spawned by the “virtual colonialism” of the US in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and now Iraq as well as other countries.

I will not repeat the excellent listing of facts in the Book Description provided by the publisher–certainly that description should be read carefully. If you are a Jewish zealot, don't bother, you will not get over the cognitive dissonance. Everyone else, including Muslim, Protestant, and Catholic contributors to Congressional and Presidential campaign funds, absolutely must read this book.

There are many other books that support the author's key premises, all well-documented with case studies and the most complete and compelling statistics–known facts. I am persuaded by the author's big three:

1) Suicidal terrorism correlates best with U.S. military occupation of specific countries that tend to be undemocratic and corrupt, where the U.S. in collusion with dictators and one-party elites are frustrating legitimate national aspirations of the larger underclass and middle class;

2) Virtually all of the suicidal terrorists comes from allies of the U.S. (at least nominally–they actually play the U.S. as “useful idiots”) such as Saudi Arabia, rather than Iran;

3) The three premises shared by Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda, the Tamil Tigers, and now the Iraqi insurgency, are all accurate and will continue to be so if the U.S. does not pull its military out of the Middle East, Pakistan, Indonesia, and other locations:

a) Occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and virtual colonialism everywhere else, demand martyrdom operations;

b) Conventional inferiority mandates self-sacrifice (not only suicidal terrorism, but other asymmetric attacks including the death of a thousand cuts against key energy, water, and transportation nodes in the USA; and

c) The US and its European allies are vulnerable to coercive pressure. The withdrawal of the Americans and the French from Viet-Nam and then Lebanon, of the Israelis from the West Bank, and other concessions itemized by the author, have all made the case for suicidal terrorism. It works and it will explode.

I will mention several other books to support this author, but wish to stress that alone, his work is spectacularly successful in documenting the fallacies of the U.S. national security policy.

Among the books that support him are
Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century
Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods
Understanding Terror Networks
The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future – and What It Will Take to Win It Back
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People

This is a core reading for every officer at STRATCOM and SOCOM, and for anyone who wishes to be effective at either Public Diplomacy or Strategic Communication or Information Operations. This author should be an invited distinguished funded speaker at every single war college in the Western democracies. We cannot win without listening to him. Military withdrawals, combined with energy independence, are essential. Without them, we not only will not fully defeat the current crop of suicidal terrorists, but we will, in attempting to deal with the current threat with old counter-productive and heavy-handed means, give birth to hundreds of thousands in the next generation of suicidal terrorists.

There are not enough guns in the world to win this one, even if we had competent intelligence at the neighborhood level, which we do not. In keeping with the author's recommendations, it is clear that moral capitalism, informed democracy, equanimity toward bottom up movements for national liberation and an end to corruption, an honest policy process in Washington, D.C.–these are the keys to victory.

This is a towering accomplishment and a major contribution to strategic thinking.

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Review: Anti-Americanism

5 Star, America (Anti-America)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Sets New Standard For What Can and Should be Known,

January 31, 2005
Jean-Francois Revel
Edit of 20 Dec 07 to add links.

This author, this book, are extraordinary. His is the kind of intellect that Harry Truman had in mind when CIA was created, with its motto, from John 8:32, regarding the importance of truth. Get the facts. This author is a master of the facts, and I am somewhat ashamed, having fallen prey to “facts” from others, that I should have to learn these facts from a Frenchman.

On every page there is an eye-opener, and what I came to realize is that this author is demonstrating what public diplomacy *should* be in America–on every single page he compares and contrasts what anti-Americans are claiming against America, what the real facts are, and what the facts are for Europe, where it is oh so fashionable to be critical of America when in fact Europe has done far less for the world, and for its own people.

Four facts stand out that bear emphasis, for they represent what this author has done so well with this book:

1) Europe provides four times the subsidies for its farmers than does America for American farmers.

2) Africa has received the equivalent of a hundred Marshall Plans since World War II, only to squander them all in corruption.

3) The US Senate rejected the Kyoto Treaty under Clinton, not Bush, and Clinton's executive order leaving Bush holding the bag as a deliberate political gambit.

4) There is a one to one correlation between globalization and the improvement of the lot of the poor in the least developed countries.

Now, having “accepted” some of this author's fact, which correct “facts” I had previously accepted, what really hit home with me is that we need to get all these facts on the table, subject to the collective intelligence of the people, and we need to do a much better job of communicating the facts to both our own domestic public, and the international audience. “Public diplomacy” in America stinks, in part because Otto Reich thinks he can do public diplomacy by assertion rather than by demonstration. Facts–open source intelligence–is what will work. The Department of State is not doing its homework, precisely because it refuses to be serious about open sources of information and the process of distilling information into overt intelligence.

The book is sometimes tedious but always rewarding. It is here that I learn that the Algerian terrorists were frustrated in 1994 in their plans to hijack an airplane and fly it into the Eiffel Tower. It is here that I see, explained in excellent context, the term “hyperterrorism.” It is here that I see discussed as some length the “myth of Muslim moderation,” and where I also see a persuasive condemnation of multi-culturalism and bi-lingual education.

I recommend this book be read in conjunction with Lee Harris, Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History. Jean-Francois Revel helps us see the history of the past as we should: America with warts, but triumphant. Lee Harris helps us see the history of the future as we should: America at risk, unless it becomes ruthless at the same time that it faces reality.

This book has forced me to re-evaluate a great deal of what I took to be “scholarship” that I now realize needs to be subjected to much closer scrutiny. We need more facts on the public table. This book is a good starting point for all of us.

See also:
Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth'
The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
The Lessons of History: The Most Important Insights from the Story of Civilization

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Review: Osama’s Revenge–THE NEXT 9/11 : What the Media and the Government Haven’t Told You

4 Star, 9-11 Truth Books & DVDs, America (Anti-America), Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Media, Misinformation & Propaganda, Security (Including Immigration), Terrorism & Jihad

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4.0 out of 5 stars Third of Three “Must Reads” on Bin Laden and Threat to USA,

August 13, 2004
Paul L. Williams
This is the third of three books that I am reviewing today and that I strongly recommend be read by every adult in America. The first two, in order of priority, are Mahmood Mamdani's Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror and CIA Anonymous Executive Analyst, Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror. I should add that terror is a tactic, not an enemy, it is impossible to win a war against a tactic.

What this book does is piece together all of the English-language reports over the past ten years or so regarding the probabilities and specifics of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda's having acquired several forms or portable nuclear devices. Although some reviewers have slammed this book for being fictional, they do not know what they are talking about. The FACTS are that the Soviet general officer responsible for the 100 suitcase nuclear bombs designed for Spetznatz use, some pre-positioned in the USA, has said publicly, in writing, and on more than one occasion that 66 of those are unaccounted for.

I took one star off for excessive reliance on two secondary sources, both excellent but never-the-less cited too often, and the commensurate lack of attention to foreign language materials that could have deepened this study considerably, especially when one takes into account the CIA executive analyst's comments in IMPERIAL HUBRIS regarding the straight truth-telling that can be found in Bin Laden's Arabic-language postings. “Nuclear hell storm” is out there (the author does cite this), and we had better take this more seriously than our government has.

The author opens with a notional “letter to America” from Bin Laden that is based on Bin Laden's actual statements (as itemized in IMPERIAL HUBRIS) and is alone worth the price of the book. If we don't take a long hard look at ourselves and correct the misbehavior that is radicalizing over a billion Muslims, we will not (not!) win this war.

The author does a really fine job, not just of amassing and stringing together a coherent story of Bin Laden's likely possession of nuclear capabilities, but also of showing the inter-relationship between the Afghanistan drug fields that the U.S. Government has stupidly allowed to flourish, the Pakistani production facilities that take the opium to a “Number 4” level of quality, and criminal organizations as well as corrupt governments everywhere that facilitate Bin Laden's operations. The roles of Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan (especially Pakistan) in facilitating the storage, refurbishment, and technical maintenance of the purchased nuclear elements are covered in a manner that persuades me–this is a very real threat.

The book is a useful compilation of both mistakes by the US, and events taking place from 2002-2004, and it ends with full translated copies of the 23 Aug 96 Fatwa and the related 23 Feb 98 World Islamic Statement. Within the book are some extracts from Al Qaeda training manuals, one portion of which make it clear that the “sleepers” now in the US are specifically forbidden to go to mosques or appear Islamic in any way.

Bottom line, totally consistent with the other two books I recommend: the US needs to meet Bin Laden's reasonable demands, and redirect its focus from occupying Islamic countries toward cleaning up its own homeland. [I realize that calling Bin Laden's demands “reasonable” in going to infuriate many people, but I have to say, based on all three books taken as a whole, that all three authors agree on this point, and they have persuaded me. We cannot win if we persist in supporting 44 dictators, occupying Muslim lands, demanding cheap oil at the expense of the Muslim populations, and supporting an Israel that is racist as well as terrorist in nature toward the Palestinians. It is what it is–the sooner we stop deceiving ourselves, and demand that our government get back to the ideals of moral capitalism and truly representative democracy, the sooner we have a chance to avoid this “nuclear hellstorm” that I believe this book credibly documents as a very real possibility.]

See also, with reviews:
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025
Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq
Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack
America the Vulnerable: How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It

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