The Evolution of a Commander in Chief
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Confronting head-on the popular image of Bill Clinton as a weak commander in chief, veteran reporter Richard Sale attempts a more balanced examination of the Clinton administration’s foreign policy in Clinton’s Secret Wars.
Sale begins by examining the historical context in which Clinton began his two terms as president, observing that Clinton gained office at a time when the American public believed that, with the Cold War ended, the international position of the U.S. was stronger and safer than ever. Yet Sale argues the world of the 1990s was actually more volatile and more dangerous, as conflicts between nations were being replaced by wars of extermination between ethnic groups.
Sale acknowledges that Clinton displayed an initial uncertainty in the realm of foreign policy and stumbled early, caught between hawks and doves in his administration when confronted with crises in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia. Yet Sale argues that Clinton’s hesitation was in sync with the reluctance of the UN, Europe and the U.S. Congress to get involved, and further observes that 70% of the American public opposed U.S. intervention even during the worst of the Balkan massacres.
Meanwhile, Clinton began to see complex covert operations as a means of accomplishing foreign policy goals. Sale reports on Clinton’s covert ops in the Balkans and the Middle East, revealing how Clinton spearheaded the fight against Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic by allowing Iranian arms to be shipped to the Bosnian Muslims while using the Croatians to alter the balance of power. Then after battling Milosevic head-on in Kosovo, Clinton set in motion the covert operation that finally toppled Milosevic and sent him as a prisoner to The Hague, an op that is being taught today at the CIA as an example of the effectiveness of a relatively bloodless coup that uses both open and covert means.
Sale argues that Clinton quickly evolved into a strong, even pugnacious leader who bombed Saddam Hussein in response to Hussein’s assassination plot against former President Bush, and was the first to target Osama bin Laden, ultimately preventing al-Qaeda from establishing a stronghold in the Balkans.
Using confidential sources in the administration itself, as well as interviews with members of Congress and numerous government officials, Sale also assesses the roles played by various key officials in the Clinton administration, including Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Tony Lake and Vice President Al Gore. Ultimately, Clinton’s Secret Wars is Sale’s “attempt to right a wrong” and show that our 44th president was—notwithstanding the conventional wisdom—a tough-as-nails commander in chief.
Hardcover Book : 512 pages
Publisher: St. Martins Press, Llc ( October 13, 2009 )
Item #: 12-788264
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 1.15inches
Product Weight: 27.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I did enjoy the book. He had some good advice and some bad. I feel he should have acted more agressivly toward Iran. All in all not a bad read.
Reviewer: Bill C
As a Clinton supporter, I appreciate the writer very much and the Editorial Review makes me inclined to buy the book. But 44th President?