- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Fortunately, "Against All Terrors" by Philip Gold is not a long book 142 pages plus a preface, an introduction and a couple of appendices. I say "fortunately" because in the end it seems to boil down to this: America can win the war against terrorism. But in fairness, it's better than that. And Mr. Gold assuredly doesn't say it so simply. Instead he lauds ours as "a civilization of power and worthiness and persistence" and therefore of courage. And it will, he assures us, "stand against all terrors."

Mr. Gold's basic thesis is that America is facing a new kind of war and must adapt to meet its challenges. He asserts that what he calls the Age of Wars of Ideology is over and has been replaced by the Age of Wars of the Ways. Unfortunately, to me at least, he never clearly defines what he means by "Wars of the Ways." Indeed, at the risk of taking some exception to what he says, it would seem that the war with Islamic terrorism is very much a war of ideology, literally a war of Dark Ages fanaticism waged against an enlightened (comparatively speaking) 21st century civilization.

However, Mr. Gold insists that Wars of Ideology began with the American Revolution and ended with the fall and disintegration of the Soviet Union. They were, he says, about great collective issues that in the main had to do with "what are the proper forms of political and economic organization and for nation-states and the societies they govern." The War of the Ways is a different matter. Mr. Gold calls it "a protracted global struggle that will pit those who embrace the 21st century against those who want out or can't get in [to the 21st century]."

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, Mr. Gold says, the United States must create a military force capable of prevailing in whatever forms of conflict it will face during this century. He starts off with the dictum of the Karl von Clausewitz, the Prussian general and military strategist, who described war as an endeavor of a "remarkable trinity" involving the state, the military and the people, adding that without the sustained support and participation of the people the endeavor war would not succeed. The dictum, Mr. Gold believes, is perhaps even more true today with the new type of war the nation now faces.

Mr. Gold has a name for America's current enemy Jihadistan. This entity includes not only the active terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda, but also those militant and fanatical Muslim nations that harbor and support them. And he is emphatic about one thing: "Jihadistan must not under any circumstances be permitted to possess, let alone use, weapons of mass destruction, mass death or mass disruption." To prevent this, Mr. Gold says the United States must be prepared to act alone.

Mr. Gold calls for restructuring our military in order to make it relevant to the threats we face, effective against those threats and so overpowering "that many of the Wars of the Ways won't have to be fought at all." This will call for a Revolution in Military Affairs RMA. (One of the problems of the book is that Mr. Gold fills it with more acronyms, mostly military, than can be easily remembered.) One phase of that "revolution" involves "a new aggressiveness." No longer will the military goal be to restore the status quo or to settle for less than total victory.

In the final of the book's four parts, Mr. Gold philosophizes and analyzes and wrestles with the American spirit, which, he believes, is continually asking, and has been from before the Revolutionary War, "Are we good enough?" In this case he means, are we good enough to cope with the wars and challenges of the 21st century? I'm not sure, however, that this is a question that really bothers many of today's Americans or how those it does bother would answer it. Mr. Gold himself believes the question will never be answered definitively, but he asserts it is part of what motivated the American Revolution and a number of subsequent events throughout our history.

The problem here, or maybe it is the book's strength (my question is, which one is it?) is that Mr. Gold is not merely a student of national security affairs; he is also by academic training, a historian of American culture, and both disciplines are evident in his approach. Regardless, Mr. Gold has given us a book not only chock full of interesting and recent historical facts, but one that also contains glimpses of the future as the United States prepares to defend itself "against all terrors."


Lyn Nofziger, a Washington writer, was a political adviser to President Ronald Reagan.


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