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Winning the Un-War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism Hardcover – April 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.; First Edition edition (April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574889656
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574889659
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.3 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,461,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...Mr. Peña’s book deserves to be widely read and carefully considered." -- Amb. Edward Peck, former chief of mission in Iraq and deputy director of the Reagan cabinet’s task force on terrorism

"...a great deal of research about the war against al Qaeda...an accessible and interesting book..." -- Peter Bergen, CNN terrorism analyst, fellow of the New America Foundation, and author of The Osama Bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al Qaeda's Leader

"A brilliant and incisive demolition of the misguided strategy that the Bush administration concocted in the wake of 9/11. -- Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced By War

"…Not only does Charles Peña understand the nature of modern Islamic terrorism…but he understands how to tackle it…" -- Jason Burke, chief reporter for the London Observer and author of Al Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror and Al Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam

"…Peña brings his formidable analytic skills to bear in assessing where we stand in the fight against al Qaeda…" -- Roger Cressey, former White House counterterrorism official and NBC News terrorism analyst

From the Publisher

" [A] detailed and persuasive explanation of what has gone wrong in America's counterterror policy, why it went wrong, and how it may be put right." -- New York Review of Books

"Pena's study represents an important scholarly critique from inside the ranks of the right wing of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. . . . Pena has brought together such a choice compilaiton of unimpeachable official sources, and cited them so pointedly, that the effect will be particularly persuasive to anyone who still needs to be convinced that the world might be different today if the Bush administration had not mismanaged U.S. foreign policy as badly as it has." -- The Bloomsbury Review

"A brilliant and incisive demolition of the misguided strategy that the Bush administration concocted in the wake of 9/11. Charles Pena rightly reminds us that the danger to which we must respond is al Qaeda, not generic `terrorists' or some contrived `axis of evil.' In Winning the Un-War, he not only shows how we stumbled into our present fix, but also offers a hard-headed and persuasive prescription for getting out." --Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War

"Chuck Pena has always been one of the most clear-headed and persuasive analysts on al Qaeda and the war on terrorism. In Winning the Un-War, Pena brings his formidable analytic skills to bear in assessing where we stand in the fight against al Qaeda, why the threat of terrorism has actually grown, and how our country remains vulnerable even five years after 9/11. If you want to understand the mistakes that have been made in the war on terror and what to do to fix them, this book is required reading." -- Roger Cressey, former White House counterterrorism official and NBC News terrorism analyst

"Charles Pena's Winning the Un-War makes a clearly written and cogently argued case for how best to counter the threat from al Qaeda that will be of great interest to both the specialist and the general reader. Pena has synthesized a great deal of research about the war against al Qaeda into an accessible and interesting book." -- Peter Bergen, CNN terrorism analyst, fellow of the New America Foundation, and author of The Osama Bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al Qaeda's Leader

"The subject is of primordial importance, the writing lucid and compelling, the analysis thoughtful and informed, the recommendations logical and rational. Mr. Pena's book deserves to be widely read and carefully considered." -- Amb. Edward Peck, former chief of mission in Iraq and deputy director of the Reagan cabinet's task force on terrorism

"Not only does Charles Pena understand the nature of modern Islamic terrorism--and the threat that it poses--but he understands how to tackle it. His argument is lucid, intelligent, and necessary." -- Jason Burke, chief reporter for the London Observer and author of Al Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror and Al Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam

"A vitally important book for anyone who believes that safeguarding America requires more than ritualistic incantations about freedom's inevitable triumph. . . . Winning the Un-War is the most important book yet on the threat of terrorism and how to beat it." -- Doug Bandow at ANTIWAR.COM

"If President George W. Bush had hired Charles Pena to formulate U.S. policy against terrorism, the country would be much safer and the president would not be experiencing popularity akin to that of O.J. Simpson. . . . Pena convincingly, clearly, and concisely argues that an alternative program--intelligence, law enforcement, and limited military action to dismantle al-Qaeda; improvements in homeland security; and most important, a more restrained U.S. foreign policy to reduce the motivation for future anti-U.S. attacks--could reduce or eliminate the bull's eye that the Bush administration has painted on the backs of the American people." -- The American Conservative

"Pena goes well beyond criticizing the war; his purpose is to outline a new strategy appropriate to the real threat or threats most currently abroad in the world. . . . This is a work of clear-headed analysis characterized by temperate and well-considered language and thorough documentation rather than a polemic. . . . Highly recommended." -- Alan Bock at ANTIWAR.COM

"Pena seriously advances the discussion . . . by outlining a strategy for confronting the real threat of al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups that still pose a serious danger to the United States. . . . Highly recommended." -- Orange County Register

"Pena has an eye for detail [and] a flair for language. His thesis is both simple and powerfully valid [and] its essence can't be said too often. Simply put, it comes down to this: it is America's actions in the world, not its ideology, that creates enemies." -- David Isenberg, Asia Times

"Pena presents a provocative but well-documented indictment of current U.S. foreign policy, as well as the policymakers responsible for shaping it. Unlike other critiques of the administration's stewardship of American interests abroad . . . Pena's work is characterized by neither a militant anti-Americanism nor a reflexive pacifism. . . . The realist critique of Charles Pena raises questions that highlight the stakes in U.S. commitments overseas. . . . As American froeign policy navigates through the shoals of the coming years, it might well be that much-maligned realism alone offers the clarity of vision necessary to safely steer the ship of state." -- J. Peter Pham in The National Interest

". . . .thorough and well documented. . . . a level-headed and persuasive analysis of al Qaeda issues and the realities of the war on terrorism. If a reader desires insight into U.S. mistakes on fighting the war on terrorism since 9/11 and ways to fix them, this book comes highly recommended." -- Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management


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Customer Reviews

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This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the terrorist problem and how to combat it.
B. L. Carpenter
It should be read by anyone who believes that protecting America requires more than ritualistic incantations about freedom's inevitable triumph.
Doug Bandow
It takes nothing away from Mr. Pena's analysis, but would serve to make the first few chapters more readable.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Isenberg on August 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
[...]

Winning the Un-War by Charles Pena

Reviewed by David Isenberg

Not all worthwhile points are new ones. Sometimes the most useful thing one can do is remind people of certain undeniable truths, especially when the powers that be are doing their best to obfuscate or deny them.

In this task Charles Pena, a former director of defense-policy studies at the Cato Institute, succeeds admirably in Winning the Un-War. His thesis is both simple and powerfully valid. He argues that the "global war on terrorism", which nowadays the administration of US President George W Bush simply prefers to call (shades of Nineteen Eighty-Four) the "long war", is a tragic misstep. Pena is not the first one to note that, as terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy, fighting a war against it is futile. But he does amass an arsenal of evidence detailing how it has made the United States less, not more, safe.

Pena has an eye for detail. The book is crammed with it. Obviously he spent a long time Web-surfing while doing his research. As such, the first few chapters dealing with the threat of al-Qaeda and the lackluster US response to it, the distraction of the Iraq war and the costs it imposed cover much of the material that has been covered in previous books. To his credit, Pena acknowledges this up front. Yet he manages to flesh out insights that rarely, if ever, are mentioned.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The following is an in-depth review of this book. But for the very abbreviated version: It's a good book with a few shortcomings. A good read though with some great strategies for America.

The Critique

Charles Pena's new book on American strategy in the face of al Qaeda offers a solid plan for defeating America's enemy, but suffers from a few shortcomings. Overall, however, the plan of focusing on al Qaeda, of using Special Forces to capture and kill the leadership while simultaneously removing the motivation behind the terrorist attacks is a solid one. Our nation's leaders would do well to read this book and take heed of Mr. Pena's advice.

Writing and Editing Comments

Before delving into Mr. Pena's arguments, there are a few shortcomings with the writing and editing of the book that we should cover. The first few chapters rely too heavily on quotes from political leaders, sometimes with five or more direct quotes on a single page. While this works well as evidence, the reader would be better served by one or two quotes getting directly to the point, and backed up by additional cites in footnotes or endnotes, followed by the analysis of the quote. It takes nothing away from Mr. Pena's analysis, but would serve to make the first few chapters more readable.

The second quibbling point is on Mr. Pena's tortured analogy of al Qaeda to quantum physics. Mr. Pena spends several paragraphs describing the wave/particle duality of light before going on to talk about the organizational structure of al Qaeda. But while light is both a wave and a particle at the same time, al Qaeda is not both a structured hierarchical organization and a distributed nodal network at the same time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bill on May 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Insightful and well-written, Winning the Un-war is an important contribution to understanding the evolution of the Bush administration's "global war on terrorism"--its successes and more importantly, its failures.

As the title of the book suggests, Pena's central argument revolves around the concept that the "war on terror" is both a rhetorical and operational misnomer. He posits that in order to prevail in this "Un-war," the United States will need to radically change its strategies to meet the security challenges of the post 9/11 era.

Of these challenges, none is more important to Pena than al Qaeda--that he identifies as the true threat to the United States. As such, the war in Iraq--often cited as the "central front" in the war on terror--is viewed by Pena as a dangerous distraction that has, and will continue to hurt America's ability to defend its truly vital national interests.

Though this hypothesis may strike some readers as having been raised some years back, Winning the Un-war is anything but another Wilsonian rehash.

Indeed Pena's analysis goes far beyond the familiar pleas of reforming multilaterals and courting allies. Transitioning seamlessly from closing shop in Iraq, he offers logical and concise policy alternatives to problems such as streamlining the military, fixing homeland security, and ultimately reforming U.S. foreign policy itself.

Whether readers agree with his approach or not, Pena's breed of defensive realism (which should not be confused with isolationism) offers fresh solutions to complex problems--something dreadfully lacking in today's polarized environment (Neo-Conservative vs. Wilsonian).

Overall, Winning the Un-war will should prove a worthwhile read to anyone who is interested in evaluating the range of options when it comes to protecting this country and ensuring that the next generation is better off than the current one.
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