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America's Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle Between the United States and Its Enemies Hardcover – October 5, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As founder and chairman of Stratfor Forecasting ("predictive, insightful global intelligence," its Web site states), Friedman is in the business of gathering information and predicting outcomes of global conflicts for businesses and governments. Following up on The Future of War, he assesses the causes, players and parameters of what he calls "the fourth global war"—September 11th and its aftermath—from the perspective of the company. Much of what’s here will be familiar to readers of the 9/11 report or the reams of news coverage over the last three years. Yet Friedman’s stock-taking exercise is compelling as a distillation of corporate intelligence, where the spin is less about maintaining the image of particular politicians or governments, and more about being right so that money can be made.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Friedman is right when he says that his book may be "vigorously attacked." His (quite reasonable) portrayal of George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden as "skilled and dedicated men" is sure to anger readers looking for easy characterizations. But there is nothing easy about the post-September 11, 2001, world. Any study of the period immediately following the terrorist attacks inevitably raises more questions than it answers. What did the U.S. intelligence community know, and when did they know it? Was there sufficient advance knowledge to permit the U.S. government to defend itself against the attacks? Was President Bush misleading the world when he launched his search for weapons of mass destruction? And how, exactly, has Osama bin Laden managed to escape? Friedman answers what he can, suggests explanations for things that are murky, and gives us fistfuls of new ideas to consider. This isn't the definitive book on the subject, but it delivers a clearer, deeper, and subtler understanding of the post-9/11 world than we will ever get from listening to the cacophony of talking heads on television. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (October 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385512457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385512459
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

280 of 301 people found the following review helpful By J. Dretler on October 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In "America's Secret War", George Friedman, the chairman of Stratfor, a private intelligence and information service, guides us through the intricacies of the origins and consequences of what he calls the `Fourth Global War'.
He starts by comparing the war to a game of chess where, to the unknowledgeable, there are many possible opening moves, but to the initiated there are only a few. This is a book of current events and recent history. It is, by design, more informative than inspirational. Friedman has an opinion, not always expressed in his Stratfor reports, but it is not obvious. He claims, in the foreword that he is trying to be cold and objective, rather than passionate, and while he is successful in maintaining objectivity, his passion or intensity comes through.
He challenges conventional wisdom with his allegations that Desert Storm was not about Iraq, but about Iran and her challenge to Saudi Arabia over who will be the leader of the Moslem world. In the West, he says the war was seen as a perfect example of modern statecraft with proper objectives and an exit strategy'. It had something for everyone. It appealed to three different groups, and to each within their own geopolitical constructs. For the `cold-warrior' perception of global politics the war was the proper defense of a Cold-War ally. For those who have a more Kissingerian realpolitik interpretation of the world saw the war as the proper containment of Iraq and of Saddam in balance of power terms. Finally the `End of History' post-modernists viewed the war as an expression of the multi-lateral `new world' working together against a rogue state. All of these views combined to make this a popular war in the West.
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171 of 193 people found the following review helpful By americangadfly on October 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book when I saw the author on CNN this morning. Synchronicity. He was what I had expected: sharp, smart, to the point, and not self-evidently in the thrall of a particular political bias.

In fact, this is what drew me to the book. In the introduction he makes a point of saying, "This is not a passionate book. Passion is overrated." Instead, his book is a coldly (and very provocatively) analytical look at the strategic chess match between the U.S. and Al Qaeda since 9-11. There were quite a few things I hadn't seen reported before about the Afghan War (B-52's as sky writers -- who knew?). He sees the Iraq war as a strategic flanking move aimed at influencing Saudi Arabia. Deep strategic thinking underlies the U.S. strategy there, but of course it's too complex and ruthless to explain or sell to the American people, so we got WMD. But it makes good cold sense, and Friedman describes and analyzes this new angle quite convincingly.

He's a clean writer and an insightful thinker with access to a great deal of evidently fresh information. I like his lack of passion. The executives at MSNBC should take one of their screaming blowhards -- Joe Scarborough or Chris Matthews, take your pick -- and replace them with a real-deal analyst like Friedman. A voice of reason in an unreasoning time.

I had never heard of George Friedman before grabbing his book off the shelf and striking gold. This book is full of smart analysis delivered straight. And it may just make you optimistic about the long-term prospects for the war against Islamo-fascism.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By William Holmes VINE VOICE on November 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Once you begin to read this book, you will find it difficult to put down. Friedman writes clearly and forcefully about the real reasons why America invaded Iraq and the role that the invasion plays in the War on Terror.

Friedman begins his narrative with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, a nightmare development that threatened to give the Soviets control of the Persian Gulf and to lead to America's expulsion from the Middle East. The Carter Administration recognized the strategic threat and began moving quickly to assemble an Islamist guerrilla force to bog down the Soviets in their own Vietnam. The US strategy was intensified by the Reagan Administration and ultimately proved successful, but it had the side effect of convincing the Islamists that they could, if they fought hard enough, topple a superpower. The presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War did much to enrage the Islamists, convincing them that their best chance of re-establishing an Islamic caliphate lay in provoking a war with the United States.

Friedman's book explores the Byzantine details of American and Islamist Realpolitik in a fairly balanced way. He argues that the invasion of Iraq was not about WMDs or connections to Al Qaeda or even about oil, but was intended to show the Islamic world (and particularly Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) that the United States meant business and that those who didn't get with the program were going to be dealt with very harshly. The fact that the United States has substantial ground and air forces within easy striking distance of Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, among others, has no doubt been noticed by the leaders of those countries, dampening their enthusiasm for tolerating Al Qaeda.
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