From Publishers Weekly
A founding dean of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Allison applies a long, distinguished career in government and academia to this sobering—indeed frightening—presentation of U.S. vulnerability to a terrorist nuclear attack. While he begins by asserting such an attack is preventable, the balance of his text is anything but reassuring. Allison begins by describing the broad spectrum of groups who could intend a nuclear strike against the U.S. They range from an al-Qaeda with its own Manhattan Project to small and determined doomsday cults. Their tools can include a broad spectrum of weapons, either stolen or homemade from raw materials increasingly available worldwide. Once terrorists acquire a nuclear bomb, Allison argues, its delivery to an American target may be almost impossible to stop under current security measures. The Bush administration, correct in waging war against nuclear terrorism, has not, he says, yet developed a comprehensive counter strategy. Arguing that the only way to eliminate nuclear terrorism's threat is to lock down the weapons at the source, Allison recommends nothing less than a new international order based on no insecure nuclear material, no new facilities for processing uranium or enriching plutonium and no new nuclear states. Those policies, Allison believes, do not stretch beyond the achievable, if pursued by a combination of quid pro quos and intimidation in an international context of negotiation and a U.S. foreign policy he describes as "humble." A humble policy in turn will facilitate building a world alliance against nuclear terrorism and acquiring the intelligence necessary for success against prospective nuclear terrorists. It will also require time, money and effort. Like the Cold War, the war on nuclear terrorism will probably be a long struggle in the twilight. But no student of the fact, Allison asserts, doubts that another major terrorist attack is in the offing. "We do not have the luxury," he declares, "of hoping the beast will simply go away."
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Chemical weapons can kill in the thousands. Over the same area, a football-sized nuclear packet could kill half a million. With Iran and North Korea joining the fray, Russias massive supplies, and Pakistans black market, were in Big Trouble. Allison, who served under the first Clinton administration, models his argument on the successful Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program he helped implement when the Soviet Union collapsed. Nuclear Terrorism, well-written, lucid, and above all horrifying, offers a blueprint for preventing nuclear terrorism. Reviewers generally agree with Allisons points, but ask how he would implement his goals in politically diverse climates. How does one conduct nuclear power plant inspections with corrupt officials, for example? Allison himself admits that his plan will take a long, hard, slogone that seems necessary.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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