Books can help citizens judge facts from hyperbole
by John Barbee
Since the terrorist attacks of 9-11 and especially now, in the run-up to the November presidential elections, it is increasingly difficult for U.S. citizens to judge what is fact and what is fiction (or political hyperbole) regarding U.S. security, the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism. Everyone seems to have their own interpretation of what they have heard or seen on TV about the situation we are in, how we got there and what to do about it.
Despite my experience working in civil society development in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries impacted by conflict, I have also been confused and highly concerned by the actions taken and contentions made by our nation’s elected and appointed leaders in the administration and Congress. Until recently I was also very frustrated in my unsuccessful efforts to find out what principles, logic and processes have been driving our foreign and domestic anti-terrorism policy and dominating its implementation. In the last three months, I finally came across some information resources that have helped me to understand and appreciate what has been going on at the highest levels in our government, both since the first Gulf War and especially in the last three years. I think these resource books will be very useful and informative for readers who, like me, want to become better informed on these very serious and critically important issues for our country.
The material I am recommending is nonpartisan and seeks to inform and point out both the errors of our recent past and present, and some specific constructive action that we should be implementing to deal with the problems.
The two books I recommend are:
– “Against All Enemies: Inside Amenca’s War on Terrorism,” by Richard Clarke, a senior executive service civil servant for nearly 30 years, who worked for the current and last three presidents, and who was the National Security Council’s counterterrorism coordinator in the White House during the terrorist attacks of 9-11.
– “Plan of Attack,” by Bob Woodward, reporter and editor at the Washington Post for 33 years, and a nationally and internationally respected writer. Along with Carl Bernstein, he did the investigation and reporting that brought the facts of the Watergate events to public attention and action.
Both Clarke and Woodward are highly respected and well known in their fields for their honesty and forthrightness in their work, and their dealings. Neither of them is seeking public office or involved directly in political campaigns. Clearly, their books were written and published for the primary purpose of helping to enlighten Americans and to help us as citizens to better understand and make better choices in exercising our privileges and carrying out our responsibilities as citizens in the most advanced democracy in the world. They can be found in bookstores and also on the Web in both text and audio format.
John W. Barbee has been a lifelong area resident and has served in humanitarian assistance and the development of civil society in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Africa and, most recently, Iraq.
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Guest commentary: Recovering our friend from Crystal River was something we had to do; he would have done the same for us
I’m writing these words in the aftermath of the death of our friend in an attempt to make some sense of the last few days, as well as to tell the details of the events up to and after Chason Russell’s death on the Crystal River.