- 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:
#2,105,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1973 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Political Freedom
- #4186 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Security
- #4270 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.
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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?
Nuclear Terrorism - He sees this as a major threat. So do I. And for the first time the terrorists will have the opportunity to create real havoc. And if done say in Washington during a time when the President is addressing a joint session of congress it could effectively de-capitate the country. Or if done at a G8 summit. Or if it done so as to wipe out the present leadership of Saudi Arabia.
He sees the potential of a ruthless, perhaps messianic leader then stepping forward and taking over the country as Hitler did after the Reichstag fire. I don't see that happening here. We don't have a history of such actions in this country. On the other hand we do have a history of revolution and assassination. Fear of such a takeover was why the writers of the constitution put in the second ammendment. The Nazi's used gun registration records to remove guns from the people that didn't support them, i.e. the Jews.
But could someone, Osama bin Laden perhaps, use a nuclear device to wipe out the Saudi leadership and then take over Saudi Arabia. Possibly, and the removal of Saudi oil from the world market would be at risk. This would give us a big time depression, or an invasion of course.
Finally he sees the growth of super-human intelligence in computers as being a threat. I've been in the computer business for more than forty years. I don't see even a hint of this.
All in all, a very thought provoking book.