Counterstrike: the Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda by Eric Schmitt

Jan 24, 2012

Schmitt’s Counterstrike is as lucid, clear and comprehensive an explanation of the country’s foreign policy direction as we are ever likely to have in non-government speak.  The book is not an apology, defense or condemnation.  It begins with a fact – terrorism is a long term threat - and then dissects the difficulty of identifying the sources of threats while simultaneously trying to thwart the inevitable attack attempts.  The deterrence strategy of the Cold War era at first seemed like it might not be useful against an enemy with no territory or resources (targets) against which to promise retaliatory strikes.    However, in the years since 9/11, deterrence as a strategy has been reconceptualized, and, well, perhaps these stateless adversaries do have valued targets -- just not traditional ones like cities or refineries or land, or the lives of civilians….

Since 2001, major shifts have been orchestrated within the U.S. government to redefine how parts of the foreign policy establishment – highly territorial themselves—would become partners, rather than competitors, in the business of deterrence. 

All the while, technological advances are continuously redefining the nature and source of both threats and deterrence options.

I truly appreciated Schmitt’s thoughtful, non-hysterical, counterbalance to the talking heads of the broadcast media.

Written by Kathy B.