- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press; First Edition edition (October 10, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0231139527
- ISBN-13: 978-0231139526
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#3,122,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #2874 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Political Freedom
- #5842 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Security
- #6922 in Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > International Relations
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Annihilation from Within: The Ultimate Threat to Nations First Edition Edition
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The great value of Mr. Iklé's book: to make us consider the worst. (Walter Laqueur The Wall Street Journal)
Should be on every Pentagon reading list. (Austin Bay Washington Times)
Iklé addresses a reality we prefer to ignore. (George Walden Bloomberg)
A sobering exploration of the perils of progress. (Eric Cohen Weekly Standard)
A book that should be read by every serious citizen, especially those responsible for our national security. (R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. American Spectator)
A grim assessment of America's vulnerability. (David Ignatius Washington Post)
An extremely important and readable book... that requires attention. (Richard W. Rahn The Washington Times)
Globalization guarantees the spread of new technologies, whether beneficial or destructive, and this proliferation reaches beyond North Korea, Iran, and other rogue states. Our greatest threat is a cunning tyrant who might gain a few weapons of mass destruction and annihilate a nation's government from within, assuming dictatorial power. The twentieth century offers vivid examples of tyrants who have exploited major national disasters by rallying violent followers and intimidating an entire nation.
To explain how we have become so vulnerable, Fred Iklé turns to history. Some 250 years ago, science was freed from political and religious constraints, causing a cultural split. Since then, science has advanced at an accelerating pace while religion and politics have moved along a zigzag course. This divergence will widen and endanger the survival of nations. Drawing on his experience as a Washington insider, Iklé outlines the practical measures that could be implemented to help us avert catastrophe.
Top customer reviews
An unexpected gem from the "Annihilation" is Iklé's portrayer of Ronald Reagan, who had the reputation as a war monger, as someone who abhored the risks inherent in a policy of Mutual Assured Destruction.
My biggest complaint is that, despite its short length, the book is very repetitive.
Ikle is right on target in terms of assessing the threat; it will happen. But his great weakness is his failure to recognize America has already survived such shocking attacks twice, on Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 11, 2001. Each time the nation responded with unity and courage. Americans don't crumble in panic when faced with disaster.
Competence? That great issue that is still open to debate. The story of the fate of the Eighth Air Force in World War II raises valid doubts about the competence of US leaders in responding to annihilist dangers. One verdict on the competence of current leaders came on Nov. 7, 2006; another "mid-term" test is due in November 2008.
Americans respond to disaster with magnificent courage and decency, even if the government is run by fools. Ikle, a servant of the Reagan and Bush administrations, seems afraid to cite the blunders of his bonehead bosses. But, occasionally wisdom does seep in; he realizes the Republican Congress did not have "a tiny drop of foresight and a flyspeck of courage . . . . ." This criticism would have been better had he added Bush/Cheney.
What is the solution? American courage is evident. Now we will see if Democrats have the wisdom and foresight to understand the problem and seek solutions. If not, people will keep changing their leaders until they get it right.
Ikle is right about the likelihood of annihilist terrorism. He is wrong in thinking the American people can't face it. Perhaps he's dealt with Bush league bureaucrats for too long. Americans don't panic, they fight back; they are much better than their leaders. Americans didn't flee in panic on 9/11/06; it was Bush and Cheney who scurried from pillar to post to underground bunker to find safety.
Americans don't break under pressure; from the courage of the Eigth Air Force to the courage of occupation troops now in Iraq, Americans do their duty regardless of the folly of their leaders. The question Ikle needs to address, which is overlooked in this book, is the tendency of recent leaders to panic and crumble under pressure.
This is vital reading for it's emphasis on annihilist terrorism. It will happen somewhere, someday, someplace, to some millions. If it happens in America, people will respond with steadfast courage. But what if it destroys Karachi? India and Pakistan have a long mutually hostile fear of each other, and both have nuclear weapons. It could trigger an annihilist war.
What then does America do?
The weakness is that Ikle ignores this issue, just as he underestimates the inherent courage of Americans in general. Does such an incident escalate into a worldwide nuclear disaster? Or do American leaders dampen the furies?
This book is vital reading as the start of a serious discussion about the full dangers of irrational annihilist terrorism. The issue is a Pandora's Box of profound questions that Ikle found open and otherwise ignored by American leaders. He's drawn attention to it; now we need a swarm of new answers to the swarm of new questions it generates.
Eventually, Americans will develop a rational respose. But what if some lesser nation doesn't?
Except for Newt Gingrich, I have not seen any other public official grappling with this fundamental truth. After the Enemy strikes the United States with one or more mass destruction attacks that kill millions of people (nuclear attack or, the more scary biological attack) the fundamental nature of the American society will change. We will achieve ourselves, what the Enemy could never do. We will become a less free, less open society, and thus - seal our own path into decline.
Ikle deals mainly with the fear of an intentional power grab by an unscrupulous American or European politician. Someone who would intentionally use such an event (manipulated by himself or otherwise) to seize power.
I myself am not so much frightened by such a "Palpatine Scenario." Rather, after an attack where an American city has been destroyed it will simply be impossible to retain the open nature of our society. The government will *have* to become much more intrusive and communications become much more scrutinized and circumscribed. To not do so would be criminally irresponsible.
Therefore, it is extremely important to remain on offense in the Long War. We have to continually bring the fight to the Enemy, or we risk losing the very thing that makes us great.
As Lincoln said in a different time: "All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."
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