Saturday, October 11, 2008

Book Review: The Way of the World

TitleThe Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism
AuthorRon Suskind
Tagspolitics, world, pakistan, nuclear weapons, bush administration, intelligence

This is a "big picture" book. It covers a large slice of the world, and builds up the large picture by creating a series of small pictures. The topic is power, how it is used and abused and in surprising ways is impotent. It is also about democratic ideals and how true America is to them, and how the rest of the world views them. One piece of the story is Benazir Bhutto, and how she began to understand democracy and move towareds it only to end in the tragedy of her death. Pakistan is a nexis point in the book. One story is that of a young Pakistani Muslim who lives in the US, and how he deals with issues of faith and democracy.

Much of it concerns the intelligence community and the information they know or are desperately searching for, the information to prevent new attacks. One concentrates on finding out how much loose nuclear material there is, who is offering to sell it and who to buy it. Another met with the head of Iraqi intelligence in the months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and found out Saddam Hussein had no WMD. That same Iraqi was paid by the U.S. to forge a letter claiming the 9/11 hijackers were trained in Iraq and that there was a WMD program.

It is a book where terror and freedom strive against each other. One of the goals of Al Quaeda is to get the U.S. to react in fear and against its own beliefs:

"The aim of the al Quaeda leadership for the present phase of their campaign is not just to attack us. It is to try to create the impression throughout the Muslim world that a global struggle against oppression is under way in which violent jihad against us is a personal duty since, in their eyes, the policies of the U.S and its allies towards the Muslim world are incurably discriminatory and at heart colonial. Through constantly tempting us into over-reaction, they want to expose our values as fragile and hypocritical, suppressing civil rights at home and supporting apostate and repressive government overseas. We should recognize their motive as the well-understood tactic of the revolutionary through the ages, and not fall for it." (quote from David Omand, p. 198-199).

in the end, Suskind sees hope in the longing for people from around the world to recreate the world and make it new and hopeful.
PublicationHarper (2008), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 432 pages
Publication date2008
ISBN0061430625 / 9780061430626

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