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Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency Hardcover – June 5, 2012
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"A good book to read if you want an answer to the question, 'What happened?' That is, what happened to the idealistic Obama of the 2008 campaign who was going to shut down GuantÃ¡namo, end indefinite detention, try terrorist suspects in civilian courts, take civil liberties more seriously, and end the rabid secrecy of the Bush era? How did he turn into the guy who not only didn't do any of that stuff, but became a drone-obsessed killing machine in the process?"
—Kevin Drum, Mother Jones
"Divulge(s) the details of top-level deliberations—details that were almost certainly known only to the administration's inner circle. Likely to be the most thorough accounts of America's recent national-security efforts that we shall receive before the November election."
—The Wall Street Journal
Top Customer Reviews
One of the values of this book is that it shows Obama's policy emerging -- as often happens in Washington -- from intense infighting in the Obama administration. Central is the conflict between the principled Attorney General, Eric Holder, and the hawkish and cynical Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel. Under intense pressure from Congress and buffeted by events (including the attempted Christmas 2010 "underwear bombing" on a flight approaching Detroit), Obama chooses expediency, partly under this duress, partly because he himself has more than a streak of it.
Klaidman writes a fast-paced journalistic narrative, which only occasionally slows down for analysis. For a closer look at the issues in drone strikes, see Drone Warfare.
Compared to the newspapers coverage on the topic, this book deserves 5-stars for its educational value. However, out of respect for political current event books in general, I can only give it 4-stars.
Because of the ways in which they were interrogated (torture) and imprisoned (inhumanely), they cannot be prosecuted. Yet, as it happens, they contain genuine threats to national security, so neither can they be released. So what should a president do?
And the idea of drone warfare can be scary, because it brings to mind thoughts of cold, emotionless killings. The thing is, though...how much do "we the people" really know about it?
Based on this compelling; well-written-if not wholly encouraging-book, probably less than we should. For instance, the argument is made by a player within that drone operators are actually *more* forced to confront the human costs of their actions.
In previous wars, soldiers dropped bombs on people they'd never even seen. The process of a drone strike requires the operator to carefully study a potential target's day-to-day life, which often includes their family. They must watch the strike unfolding in real-time video and stick around to watch the mourning and the aftermath.
I'd say reading this book is the very *least* necessary before forming an at least partially informed opinion on drones. After doing so, mine is: While I may not love it...it may also be the least of an unending list of evil choices.
And one line from the book that does give me at least some hope is this, about two of the men responsible for signing off on targets: "...they were serious, intelligent men who genuinely struggled with excruciatingly difficult questions of security, morality, and law."
I don't know if that's good--this is the kind of thing where likely there is no good--but it is at least, less bad.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An In-depth look at the decision making process (and how it was developed) for U.S.-backed drone strikes against terrorists overseas.Published 12 months ago by cl
A great read from that time period in our history. A view to how our president mind works, or doesn't depending on your view.Published on April 3, 2013 by David F. Rice
Daniel Klaidman takes the reader inside the Obama Administration's decision-making process is using remotely-piloted aircraft in counter-terrorism. Read morePublished on March 18, 2013 by Ellis Hopkins
Not that I have a problem with killing these maniacs....but as far as Mr. Obama's reason.....since he can't break his promise
about Gitmo... Read more
obama suddenly appears from nowhere, a total unknown, financed by the homosexual George Soros, obama sets out to help George Soros ruin our way of life in our United States of... Read morePublished on July 28, 2012 by George W. Newport