When I read, I tend to have a highlighter handy to mark the passages or lines that catch my attention. Sometimes, if I'm really enjoying something, it'll be more highlighter-color (usually orange) than white paper. If I've borrowed a book, however, I'm reduced to sticky-flags on the pages I like. I've just finished reading "Against All Enemies" by Richard Clarke, which I got from the library, and I thought I'd take the opportunity to post the flagged bits here...
"This book ... is a first-person account, not an academic history. Others who were involved in some of these events will, no doubt, recall them differently. I do not say they are wrong, only that this account is what my memory reveals to me."
- I found this quote, given in the preface, particularly interesting given all the recent flap about the truth of certain memoirs - that Clarke takes the time to make this point in the beginning is, to me, the kind of thing that makes what he says seem more sincere.
"'Having been attacked by al Qaeda, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.'"
- Clarke says this in a conversation with Colin Powell.
Clarke excerpts a speech Pres. Bill Clinton gave in April 1996, where Clinton says the following: "Terrorism is the enemy of our generation, and we must prevail. ... But I want to make it clear to the American people that while we can defeat terrorists, it will be a long time before we defeat terrorism."
"...because the U.S. apparently believes in imposing its ideology through the violence of war, many in the Arab world wonder how the United States can criticize the fundamentalists who also seek to impose their ideology through violence."
"September 11 brought both tragedy all too painful and an opportunity unexpected. You could see it on the streets of Tehran, as tens of thousands rallied spontaneously to show their solidarity with America. You could see it on the streets of America, where flags sprouted from every house. There was an opportunity unite people around the world around a set of shared values: religious tolerance, diveristy, freedom and security. With globalism rushing upon us, such a restatement of basic beliefs ... was much needed. It did not happen. We squandered the opportunity."
Clarke wrote this book before the 2004 election, and says this: "Bush is telling fund-raisers, illogically, that he deserves money for his reelection because he is 'fighting the terrorists in Iraq so that we don't have to fight them in the streets of America.' He never points out that our being in Iraq does nothing to prevent terrorists from coming to America, but does divert funds from addressing our domestic vulnerabilities and does make terrorist recruitment easier. ... One shudders to think what additional errors he will make in the next four years to strengthen the al Qaeda follow-ons: attacking Syria or Iran, undermining the Saudi regime without a plan for a successor state?"
Clarke was one of the few people in the White House on September 11 who stayed in the building and directed the government's reaction to the attacks. Of the people who he counted as his main allies back then, none (including Clarke) are still working for the administration. He says: "They all left the Administration, frustrated. They were never formally thanked by the President, never recognied for what they did before or on September 11."
It's not the best-written book I've ever read, but it seems very sincere and I give Clarke huge points for being the only person after the September 11 tragedy to say the words, "I'm sorry" to the families of all those who died. I hear that this book is one of the best on the Iraq war, so that'll probably end up on my reading list in the not-so-distant future.