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Against All Terror

The Afghan war drags on. Nobody knows where the next war or terrorist strike will come, or how soon, or how bad it will be. Nobody knows where the defense budget is going, except up, up and away. America remains steadfast. But increasingly, America wants explanations and answers.

Enter “Against All Terrors: This People’s Next Defense.” This is one of those books that, seemingly, blows in from nowhere, says what needs to be said, and clears things up. Best of all, you can read it in under two hours, while waiting for the airport security folks to inspect your shoes and wiggle your toes.

“Against All Terrors” is unique. It’s a general-audience, think-tank book, clearly and elegantly written. The think tank’s in Seattle, 2,800 blessed miles from the Beltway. And they did the book without taking a dime of federal, defense-contractor or big-foundation money. They’re indebted to no one.

The author is also unusual. Dr. Philip Gold, Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Discovery Institute, has a resume that combines Yale and Georgetown degrees with 10 years’ active and reserve service in the Marines. A noted defense expert and chronic contributor to various conservative publications, he spent the ’90s urging many of the measures and changes that are now coming to pass. Prior to 9-11, he defended Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his goal of transforming the military – practically the only conservative writer to do so. Last June, he predicted the imminence of mass terrorism on American soil. His articles and papers are available at the Discovery web site.

But “Against All Terrors” is more than a defense-policy tract. Philip Gold goes beyond the standard political and military “dueling cliches” – and the media’s relentless triviality – to lay out a clear sense of the world we’re in now; “Axis of Evil” doesn’t begin to capture it. He also offers a coherent explanation of why and how the military must change, and why and how the defense establishment resists it.

According to Dr. Gold, the Age of the Wars of Ideology is over. The Age of the Wars of the Ways has begun. The Wars of Ideology lasted two centuries, from the American Revolution to the fall of the USSR, and settled one issue. Freedom works. Market economy and liberal democracy do more good for more people than any other system yet devised. When communism collapsed, a lot of pundits announced that, from here on out, all we had to do was spread the word and extend the blessings.

Sept. 11 proved them wrong. The Wars of the Ways now pit those who embrace the 21st century – its freedoms and potentials – against an ugly de facto alliance of those who wish to escape from it and those who can’t get in. Those who wish to escape from the 21st century: Islamic fundamentalists, ethnic separatists and secessionists, racists, ecoterrorists – a long list of malcontents.

Those who can’t get in are the three billion or so who still live under $2 a day, under conditions of squalor, violence and chronic desperation. The prototype of the alliance: millionaire Osama bin Laden and those impoverished masses who follow and cheer him. The great danger of these enemies is that, more and more, they’ll have and use weapons of mass destruction (nukes), mass death (chemical and biological) and mass disruption (cyberwar).

So what does the military need? In a word: transformation. This means more – far more – than spending money. It also means far more than stocking up on high-tech gizmos. Real transformation means that everything must be on the table. Military roles and missions, and the appropriations they generate. Military organizations and structures, and the careers they provide. Doctrines, strategies, tactics, ways of doing business, inter-service relations – everything must be rethought if the 21st-century military is to be made both orders of magnitude more powerful than any other, and also effective against the other threats.

Naturally, putting everything on the table scares the services, the bureaucrats, the pork-barrel legislators, the contractors. But it has to be done. Here Dr. Gold offers a new way of thinking about the military. “Space Force, Peace Force, Warriors, Guard” isn’t a reorganization proposal. It’s a paradigm, and it provides an essential context for understanding the defense battles ahead.

But “Against All Terrors” doesn’t end there. Dr. Gold, by academic training an historian of American culture, offers some final thoughts on whether a nation so far gone in culture wars and political correctness can wage this kind of war, for as long as it takes. He’s far more optimistic than most conservatives. There are, there will be, enough of us to carry the burden, no matter how nasty or ungrateful the rest of the country – and the world – may become.

So, read the book.

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., of Newport Beach, Calif., writes extensively on medical, legal, disability and mental health reform. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., of Aberdeen, Wash., is the immediate past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both doctors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Collaborating as The Medicine Men, they write a weekly column for WorldNetDaily as well as numerous articles and editorials for newspapers, newsletters, magazines and journals nationally and internationally.