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Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Security Disasters Paperback – Bargain Price, June 30, 2009

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About the Author

Richard A. Clarke has served in the White House for President Reagan, for both presidents Bush, and for President Clinton, who appointed him as National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism. He teaches at Harvard Kennedy School, consults for ABC News, and is chairman of Good Harbor Consulting.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061474630
  • ASIN: B003JTHSR2
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,642,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I started writing books after a thirty year career in government writing bureaucratic papers. It was quite a shift. Cyber War is my fifth book and my third non-fiction. People often ask which genre do you prefer to write, fiction or non-fiction? They are both a challenge and both are exciting to attempt. Fiction may be the greater challenge, because of the need for imagination, characterization, dialogue, and plot twists. Non-fiction may actually have some real world effects. I've posted excerpts and other information on my web page; www.richardaclarke.net.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on May 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
America's government spends $1 trillion/year on national security, yet fails to provide security for its citizens. Clarke's latest book reviews several key areas and identifies both problems and potential improvements.

The Iraq War is the first topic reviewed. Clarke believes that the war was a major mistake, is not likely to achieve its purpose, and represents a failure in leadership. Examples of the latter include having insufficient troops, a lack of direction after taking Baghdad, poorly equipped and protected forces, loose control of prisoners, and poor treatment of our wounded after arriving back in the U.S. Clarke believes U.S. generals failed to stand up to poor decision-making by civilians, though also contends that top generals were chose for their compliability and admits that speaking out was a career-limiting move.

The end of the Cold War came as a surprise to American leadership, and is widely viewed as a devastating indictment of U.S. intelligence. Other failures include the CIA telling Truman in 1950 that China would not invade Korea to fight U.S. forces (that assessment was made after advance Chinese units had already entered North Korea), the CIA asserting that Iraq would not invade Kuwait (did so within hours of that forecast), concluding that Iraq did not have significant nuclear weapons development prior to Gulf War I, stating that Russia had not violated the Biological Weapons Convention (later was proved, and they admitted otherwise), mislocating the location of Russian nuclear warheads in East Germany, concluding that Iraq had WMD prior to Gulf War II and was also training al Qaeda, downplaying the likelihood of North Korea invading the South, India's developing nuclear weapons, failing to detect both the Tet Offensive and the fall of the Shah, etc.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Donald JG Chiarella on January 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
New president Obama needs to read this book. After 31 years in government i finally found someone who tells it like it is. That person is Richard Clarke. He has insights that i have known for years but never been able to confirm about some political appointees and their cronies. He also knows the career civil servant well. Washington is a place full of deceit and executive criminal behavior. Reading this book is excellent perparation for that duty. If you want to know what works in national security policy and what does not then read this book. Mr Clarke's blind spot is that he was never in the military. Other than that i find him on target in every aspect of his comments.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By W. E. Cook on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Clarke has a reputation for telling things that, while not secret, are things the Bush crowd would rather you didn't know. His 30+ years in government, at a fairly high level, give him credence. Among many other things, he tells you how the Administration bullied Tommy Franks into reducing the long-standing Iraq invasion requirement from 480K to 130K, and how there was no post-invasion plan, previously a requirement of any military operation. He points out that if a Democratic Administration had sent troops into Iraq with canvas doors on their Hummers, there would have been riots in the streets. He points out the shabby treatment that Gov Ridge got and why he finally quit. And of course there is passing comments on Karl Rove, the spin-master from Hell. It made me want to deport him back there on the spot. It short, it's a good read if you want the story told from the inside....
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Retired Reader on June 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard A. Clarke has spent thirty years (1973-2003) within the U.S. National Security System and this book represents his assessment of the health of that system today. In Clark's view this system has three integrated institutional components: 1) the U.S. Military (Armed Forces plus the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD)); 2) The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) (and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)); and 3) The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as a concept as well as an institution.. And he believes the system incorporates three issues: 1) Energy (petroleum dependence and Global Warming); 2) Terrorism (including the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)); and 3) the Information Infrastructure (cyber-security). In this book he analyzes each of the institutions and issues, identifies what he believes are points of failure in each, and offers a prescription for mitigating or eliminating those points.

There is little doubt that Clarke has indeed identified some of the weak spots within the National Security system. His solutions are rather more controversial, but are certainly worth considering. Some of his observations are quite good. For example he makes the point that failure always has a human face. By which he means systems don't fail, the people who design and manage them fail. Which observation is quite true. Unfortunately he proceeds to name names in specific examples of system failures which add an unnecessary element of controversy to an already controversial subject.

All in all, this book offers a subjective, but well founded critique or the U.S. National Security System by someone who has served that system in a variety of positions over a thirty year career. No he is not absolutely accurate and objective, but he presents what appears to be a mostly fair and balanced account of what is wrong with national security and how it can be fixed.
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