I just read Robert Baer's See No Evil. He was a CIA guy in the Middle East all through the 1980s and 1990s. Some interesting stuff on the mess in Beirut, although he clearly knows much more than is in this book and I wish he had written it. I happened across it in the library, it is worth paging though if you come across it but I wouldn't rush out to get it. You can read it in a couple of hours.
I wonder if he can dispatch a hit squad to come get me if I say something bad about his book.
One thing the book is good for is if you need a reminder what a truly terrible president Clinton was. I actually wasn't thinking that would be such a major theme, but it is.
Everybody feels like Clinton was good because Bush is an unmitigated disaster. But, even just in the realm of foreign affairs, Clinton had a terrible record.
This was, after all, the president that filled his administration with Carter retreads. That means, of course, that Ubersturmfurhrer Hillary would get the re-retreads. (Foremost among all of these people, head clown and pooch screwerTony Lake and bumbling moron drunk driver thief Sandy Berger).
More directly, of course, this is the president that did shit-all on Osama bin Laden except destroy the aspirin factory in the Sudan. He really is to blame for 9-11 in some many ways. I am not even mentioning here the failures he brought us NAFTA and permanent MFN with China (and eventually into the WTO).
Clinton was and is the prime mover in the sell-out America crowd. The Bushies just do it more baldly and callously (meaning they don't cry in public), but no less efficiently.
Now I don't think that Bush should get a free ride, since 9-11 happened on his watch. I think many people should have been fired (Tenet to begin with) and imprisoned for dereliction of duty, and I think Bush should have been/should be impeached.
But does that mean Clinton was not also a failure?
Baer has some really stunning accounts of the multiple ways that the corrupt and venal Clinton administration undercut America's strategic interest in Central Asia. In particular, the ways the NSC staff held on to their large stock holdings in oil companies and then pursued specific company's interests in official diplomacy. Baer was a frontline witness to this stuff.
He also details the conveniently forgotten scandals of the Clintons taking illegitimate funds from any source with a dollar to wave, not least the Chinese.
Clinton was lucky to have such a bunch of shitbags for his enemies in the form of the Republican theocrats and a dangerous incompetent for a successor. But he was a failed president with a corrupt administration and his constant, cynical and sleazy politicking for his wife is a sign that they are both power mad. To kid yourself otherwise because you hate Bush is to wish more years of this kind of sordid corruption and incompetence to further us along on our road to ruin.
Of more historical interest but still important, this book has some fascinating revelations about the extent to which the Reagan administration was knowingly cavorting with Iranian terrorists while involved in that Constitution annihilating act of runaway criminality called the Iran-Contra affair.
The more you think about it, the more it is clear that the American involvement with radical Islam and Middle East terrorism is the major story since 1979, the continual festering mistakes and missteps and poor choices are the one constant.