Skirmishes at the Edge of Empire: The United States and International Terrorism

Skirmishes at the Edge of Empire: The United States and International Terrorism

Skirmishes at the Edge of Empire: The United States and International Terrorism

Skirmishes at the Edge of Empire: The United States and International Terrorism

Synopsis

Over the past 25 years, the United States government has developed, through trial and error, both an understanding of terrorism and the means to deal with it. Using information collected in interviews with key decisionmakers from the Nixon to the Clinton administrations, David Tucker draws both strategic and tactical lessons from the United States' encounters with various terrorist groups. These lessons can be usefully applied to future counterterrorism efforts, as well as to other aspects of national security policy in a post-Cold War world where major conflicts will continue to be played out in numerous small struggles. This study will be must-reading for scholars and professionals in international relations, foreign policy, and military/political affairs.

Excerpt

Some time ago, a young man who thought he might be a scholar sat down to write what he was sure would be the definitive account of Thomas Jefferson. At the same time, incidentally, he began to read about the Vietnam War. This reading soon led him to make comparisons between Jefferson, the greatest revolutionary and insurgent leader in history, and his assorted, ultimately failed, progeny. This led in turn to an abiding interest in revolution and insurgency and its modern accessories: subversion, terrorism, and guerrilla war. This interest soon became more than just scholarly. One result is this book.

The book about Jefferson has never been finished. Readers of this book will note, however, the degree to which Jefferson has influenced these pages. For providing a would-be scholar with an uninterrupted summer to read and write about Jefferson, I must thank belatedly the Earhart Foundation. The end notes record other debts to scholars, journalists and the former and still-serving named and unnamed government officials I interviewed for this book. To the latter, I am particularly grateful for the time they gave me. In various ways, a number of other people helped. I am grateful to Neal Weiner at Marlboro College and George Simmons for their instruction and encouragement and to W. and Mrs. Clyde J. Deitz for their example and support. Robert Dawidoff reintroduced me to Jefferson at the Claremont Graduate School. Although nothing in this book represents the views of the Defense Department or any other agency of the U.S. government, much of what is written here I learned through working with Chris Lamb in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. Chris also read and commented on an early draft, as did Chris Harmon. My wife, Ellen, read various drafts and discussed all the arguments, patiently pointing out problems. For not benefiting more from this varied tuition and for the faults that remain in this book, I have only myself to blame.

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