9780316561471 / 0316561479

6 Nightmares: The Real Threats to American Security...


Publisher:Back Bay Books



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About the book:

Former national security advisor Anthony Lake examines major security threats facing the United States at the start of the 21st century: biological terrorism, cybercrime, the perils of peacekeeping, and so on. Each of the scenarios he describes in Six Nightmares begins with a fictional introduction to the topic; one, for instance, is a transcript of a conversation between the presidents of the United States and South Korea, discussing a civil war in North Korea and worrying about what China intends. The best parts of the book read like a memoir. Lake served under President Clinton for four years before he was nominated to head the CIA. When it became clear the GOP-controlled Senate was not likely to confirm him, Lake withdrew his name. The experience left him disappointed with "a Washington obsessed with political gamesmanship"--and also eager to settle a few scores, which he does between these covers. He strives for evenhandedness in a critique of Congress, but he's also quick to attack Republicans. The Senate's rejection of the comprehensive test-ban treaty in 1998, he writes, showed that "a handful of Republicans cared more about their hatred of the President than about their undoubted love for their country." He also takes digs at Clinton political advisor Dick Morris (for believing, he says, in poll-driven foreign policy) and The Washington Times (for breaking sensitive stories that he thinks hurt the national interest).

His view of modern journalism is tempered by his own failed CIA confirmation experience, and he pointedly describes how a scandalmongering press goes about its destructive business: "Take the charge, call the alleged miscreant and get the denial or explanation, and print both. Let the reader decide which is true." He does have fond memories of his time serving under Clinton, recalling, for instance, the aftermath of a decision to bomb Baghdad: "Years later, the President was to remember the name of one of those who died, with concern for the loss of life but not, I believe, regret for having ordered the attack." Moments like these make one wish the book were more autobiographical than it is. Yet it is a fine volume nonetheless, and a good introduction to the foreign-policy headaches America is likely to face in the years ahead. --John J. Miller

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