Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Richard A. Clarke

Richard A. Clarke served for thirty years in the United States Government, including an unprecedented ten continuous years as a White House official, serving three consecutive Presidents. In the White House he was Special Assistant to the President for Global Affairs, Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace, and National Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism.

Clarke's books, both fiction and non-fiction, include the national number one bestseller Against All Enemies and Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It.

His new novel is Sting of the Drone.

From the transcript of his interview with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: So your book begins or has a central aspect, a drone strike, and then the sense of vengeance that one of the people who was associated with it, one of the targets who survives, ends up having. It raises this fundamental question that we deal with in Yemen and Pakistan and Afghanistan. Are the drone strikes worth it? Or is the sense of rage, outrage, the collateral casualties, is that all - does that all outweigh the benefit of getting this one guy?

CLARKE: No, we began the drone program - the lethal drone program to get one guy - bin Laden. That didn't work. But the idea was to have a very restricted list of very senior people. And it did kind of work for that. And we had nothing else that worked. And so, if you put yourself into the mind of the counterterrorism official in the novel or in reality, the counterterrorism official feels the weight of the world on his or her shoulders. They have to stop the next attack, they have to save the lives of Americans. And they look at their quiver and there are very few arrows, very few arrows that work. And the drones did. So there begins to be a seduction, an addiction. Will that work? Well, it worked to kill him. And let's do it some more. Well, maybe we should broaden the definition of who we're going to kill. And then you end up, as we are today, having killed probably 2500 people in five countries. And they all have friend. They all have family, they all have tribe. And when a program gets that big, it also becomes a phenomenon in and of itself. And so you get protests in the street about the drone program.

ZAKARIA: You raise another issue in the book, which, again, seems to me part of a very interesting real-life discussion. The whole book is like that, but one that struck me, in your version, the terrorist organizations are becoming drug cartels and the drug cartels are becoming terrorist organizations that, you know, partly begun as a necessary way of financing because the U.S. and other allies have essentially cut off terrorist financing, so effectively, the only way to make money is to go into the drug trade, opium in Afghanistan. How real is that?

CLARKE: No, that's very...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue