Publishers Weekly

Peritz, senior national security adviser to the Third Way think tank, and Rosenbach, deputy assistant secretary of defense, draw on their work with the CIA and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence respectively, for this behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of counterterrorism tactics since 9/11. They begin by noting that America lacked a strategy to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda” in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Moreover, a comprehensive strategy—combining counterinsurgency operations (COIN) and “targeted counterterrorism operations…to find, fix, and finish” al-Qaeda leaders—emerged fitfully in “painful, halting steps” over the decade following the attack. Focusing on counterterrorism operations, the authors note that the program initially sought to finish al-Qaeda leaders by taking them alive. But, when that led the U.S. into moral traps—rendition, enhanced interrogation techniques—the Bush, and later Obama, administrations shifted to a strategy of killing them via drone strikes. However, Peritz and Rosenbach are ultimately equivocal about the “targeted killing program,” acknowledging its success in “wearing away al-Qaeda’s effectiveness” while dismissing it as a short-term “whack-a-mole” measure. Despite their status as former insiders, the book is short on revelations and long on ambiguity. Agent: Matthew Carnicelli, Carnicelli Literary Management. (Mar.)


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