Book Review: An End To Evil: How to Win the War on Terror


by David Frum and Richard Perle

New York: Ballantine, 2004. Pp. 280. Append., index. $7.99 . ISBN:0-345-47717-0

How do we win the war on terrorism? What are we facing? Who is the enemy? Many people have wanted to know these questions since the attacks of September 11, 2001. David Frum and Richard Perle answer those questions in An End To Evil. It is arguably the most concise presentation of the present situation, and explains how we got to it, and where we must go from here. The authors mince no words: The enemy is a radical and militant form of Islam, one that has spawned at least 17 terrorist groups, with another six having a large membership of Moslems.

Frum and Perle mince no words about the depth of this enemy the United States faces, and what has to be done. Their book also goes after what they perceive to be a major obstacle in fighting this enemy: The State Department. Examples are provided where the State Department has moved to serve its own ends rather than the policies of the present and past Administrations. At times, it has actively undermined the foreign policy the President has sought to pursue. The CIA also comes in for a fair amount of fire. It is accurately seen as an agency that is risk-averse, and deeply afflicted with NIH (“Not Invented Here”) syndrome. Rather than being the formidable intelligence agency America needs, the CIA has become a bureaucracy.

These criticisms have a lot of merit. The CIA, since the 1970s, has become risk-averse, albeit much of the blame can be laid at the feet of the Congressional committees headed by Frank Church and Otis Pike. It is only natural for an agency constantly vilified by the press, politicians, and Hollywood to go into a defensive crouch. The State Department has much less of an excuse: Time after time, bureaucrats have acted to undermine the foreign policy of the Administration. It rightfully controls all official communication with foreign governments, but it is all too often focused NOT on preserving the security of the United States of America and sticking by America’s friends, but often on presenting the world’s views to America. While the world’s views are important, at no time should they be allowed to override the primary task of protecting American interests. Nor should they prevent America from sticking by friends, even those who might not be angels (although he is not mentioned in the book, Carlos Castano, founder of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, comes to the reviewer’s mind – it would have strengthened their case to mention him, due to his efforts against the Medellin drug cartel and FARC).

Their prescription policy-wise is simple: Fight to win the war, and take a realistic view of things in Europe, China, Russia, and the United Nations. They list five major upcoming challenges: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, alliances in general, and security on the home front. The book lays down a concise policy prescription as to what must be done to win the war on terrorism from the neoconservative standpoint. While people might be worried or scared about the view laid out here, it is not enough to merely criticize the neoconservatives – they need to offer a viable alternative. To date, that has not been done.

Frum and Perle make one big mistake: In other venues, they have been overly and unfairly critical of retiring Secretary of State Colin Powell. Like Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, Colin Powell has simply done his job. While Powell can be faulted for failing to bring the bureaucracy in line, and the decision to place the AUC on the same list as FARC and al-Qaeda was unwarranted in the reviewers opinion, he did publicly stick by the Bush Administration’s decision to go to war and defended it publicly over the past year and a half. Directing unfair criticism at Powell distracts from their analysis of the situation and their policy prescription, which the reviewer believes is the most rational course of action for the U

Reviewer: Harold C. Hutchison   

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