Bill Gertz, Betrayal: How The Clinton Administration Undermined American Security
When I want to scare myself to sleep, I do not turn to the works of the fictional grandmasters of horror like John Saul or Stephen King. The crux, or the upside down crux, of many supernatural thrillers is the supernatural powers of unknown origin that descend upon a small town with the power to kill and destroy innocent heroes and heroines at whim. Perhaps I do not have enough imagination or am too much the empirical objectivist to be terrified by accounts of imaginary things that go bump in the night. When I want stark terror that leaves me unable to sleep, I turn to foreign-policy chillers like Bill Gertz's Betrayal: How The Clinton Administration Undermined American Security.
For instance, one of Gertz's first anecdotes recounts an incident in January of 1995. Norwegian scientists launched a rocket containing scientific apparatus to study the Northern Lights. The Russians, who haven't fed the hamsters that power their computers in years, determined it could be a United States nuclear missile aimed at their nuclear submarine base. As a result, Boris Yeltsin flipped activated his Cheget, also known as The Button. No Soviet leader ever activated the Cheget before, and Yeltsin could have launched an all-out nuclear strike on the United States at that moment. I had just started my fifth job after college and was probably getting a good night's sleep in preparation for a hard day at the warehouse when the world as we know it almost ended. Where were you?
Gertz organizes anecdotes and patterns of behavior espoused (or, perhaps, more enthusiastically emistressed) by the current administration. Gertz illustrates how the State Department has coddled, entreatied, and "compromised" with belligerent powers developing Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Chinese shipped missile-making materials to Pakistan and North Korea even as it told the United States hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no-evil, sign-trade-treaty diplomats it had not. The United States government refused to provide technological support to UNSCOM's inspections in Iraq because it did not want to force a confrontation. Gertz illustrates the patterns throughout U.S. relations with China, North Korea, Russia, Iraq, and Iran.
Who needs horror fiction? I don't believe in ghosts, goblins, or demons running amok in Maine. I do, however, fear the real-world equivalents. I fear being struck down suddenly at the whim of a hostile man or committee from somewhere over the sea. Most of all, I fear the men, who would shake hands and sign with my blood contracts with the belligerents, products which bring profit and higher stock value for shareholders and mass destruction for the rest of us.