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As you can probably gather by the title, Bill Gertz, who is the National Security correspondent for the Washington Times, thinks that the Clinton foreign policy has made America a less safe place than it was seven years ago.  In this book he marshals a voluminous body of evidence detailing what amounts to: an appeasement policy towards Russia & China & Iraq & North Korea; stifling the development of an anti missile defense; swapping nuclear secrets for campaign cash; and so on, which when taken together makes for a pretty compelling case that our national security has been degraded. And far be it from me to defend the Clinton administration, but at the end of the day, there is one huge problem with Gertz's brief--big deal!

I have no doubt that virtually everything he says in here is true, the administration's feckless foreign policy has been a complete disaster.  But, so what?  Today, even after two terms of mismanagement, the fact remains that we could eliminate the still pretty limited nuclear capacity of all four of those nations in a couple of hours.  Sure, I'd rather that we had not wasted these years when we could have been going full speed ahead on Star Wars and I'd rather that these nations had not been getting stronger and I'd just as soon not have to launch a nuclear strike.   But, I'm reasonably confident that the next president will get the missile defense ball rolling and while, as an initial matter, I find it highly unlikely that any of these nations actually have nuclear missiles that are likely to function well,  if push came to shove, I'm pretty comfortable with the thought that by launching a few hundred nuclear cruise missiles at China, Russia, Iraq and North Korea, we could permanently end any threat that they theoretically pose to us.

The other problem with the book is stylistic.  Gertz background as a daily journalist is a boon in his gathering of data; but a real hindrance when it comes to narrative flow.  There are even whole swathes in here where information is simply presented in factoid form, one piece of data following another in an unsynthesized march down the page.  It's like USA Today in book form.

I still recommend the book, largely on the basis of the brutal harshness of the indictment of the Clinton administration and the staggering detail presented to back up the charges.  But it is a kind of rocky read and I don't personally think that the security situation is as bleak as Gertz contends, even given the obvious mismanagement by Bubba and company.  Of course, if you are more reluctant than I am to base our entire national security posture on a willingness to nuke the likes of China & Russia into oblivion, then this book is extremely important and you should read it immediately.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (C)

  

Websites:

Book-related and General Links:
    -BOOKNOTES: Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security  Author: Bill Gertz (CSPAN)(transcript, Real Audio, First Chapter)
    -EXCERPTS: Excerpts from the new book, "Betrayal:  How the Clinton administration undermined American security"  (Bill Gertz, World Tribune)
    -ARTICLE: Clinton's Open Door, Chinese Delivery   U.S. Corporations and the Clinton Administration are finally working together on something -- perfecting Chinese missiles  (BILL GERTZ, National Review)
    -INTERVIEW: Spies and Lies CBN News Interview (Christian Broadcasting Network)
    -INTERVIEW: SIX QUESTIONS:  BILL GERTZ ON MISSILE DEFENSE (National Review)
    -ARTICLE: Book discloses secret documents from Clinton presidency (CNN)
    -Congressional Testimony of   Lt. Jack Daly, USN (American Foreign Policy Council)
    -REVIEW: (John Corry, American Spectator)
    -REVIEW: Book Review: Exaggerated: How Bill Gertz Gets it Wrong (David Isenberg, Intellectual Capital)
    -REVIEW: (eVote.com)
    -REVIEW: American Reformation Project (Glenn R. Jackson)
    -Are Suitcase Nukes on the Loose?   The Story Behind the Controversy (Scott Parrish, Center for Nonproliferation Studies)
    -Hearings on The Changing Strategic Landscape of Nuclear Policy--Statement before Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Senate Armed Services Committee, March 31, 1998 (Bruce G. Blair, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies)
    -Security Issues Facing Our Country: Excerpts from a House Floor Speech by Congressman Curt Weldon  Wednesday, September 15, 1999

US vs. CHINA :
    -REVIEW : of THE GREAT WALL AND THE EMPTY FORTRESS. By Andrew J. Nathan and Robert S. Ross and THE COMING CONFLICT WITH CHINA By Richard Bernstein and Ross H. Munro (Anne Thurston, Wilson Quarterly)

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