Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Next Attack: a chilling diagnosis of how the war on terrorism has been waged thus far


Warren Bass of The Washington Post reviews The Next Attack:

"We are losing," warn Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon on the opening page of The Next Attack . In this chilling new book, they argue that the United States has, in the years since 9/11, frittered away more time than it took to win World War II: The Bush administration has plunged into a war of choice in Iraq that played into Osama bin Laden's hands and produced "an extraordinary amount of wheel-spinning" instead of shoring up America's domestic defenses. Meanwhile, the public's attention has wandered, and the jihadist movement has weathered the loss of its Afghan haven and recast itself into new, more supple forms. "Even in his most feverish reveries," the authors write, bin Laden could not "have imagined that America would stumble so badly."

To be sure, Benjamin and Simon are not models of Olympian detachment; they served on Richard A. Clarke's counterterrorism staff in the Clinton White House and gave low marks to the Bush administration's pre-9/11 record in their first book, The Age of Sacred Terror (2002). But the current volume, which bristles with evidence and expertise, should give even the most ardent partisan pause. Indeed, anyone who cares about putting al Qaeda out of business should make time for this book -- especially in Washington, which is both the headquarters of the fight against bin Laden and one of his prime targets. Written in clear and credible prose, The Next Attack is one of the most helpful, challenging goads to serious discussion of terrorism in recent years.
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