books: The One Percent Doctrine
June 20, 2006
Today sees the release of a much-hyped expose of policies at the forefront of the Bush Administration's War on Terror, Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine. Washington Post columnist Dan Froomkin's wonderful White House Briefing gives a pretty thorough rundown of its contents here and here, and based on what I've read of the first few chapters, it looks like a real winner. The titular doctrine is the supposed core of American foreign policy, taken from Vice President Cheney's position that any threat to national security that is at least 1% probable must be considered a virtual certainty for the purposes of planning a response.
Suskind focuses heavily on the conflict between the notables, policymakers in the public spotlight such as Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, and the invisibles, those in the CIA, FBI, and other agencies who are actually responsible for combating terrorism and developing related strategies. As politicians, the notables tend to spin everything positively even while harboring significant doubts about the way things are progressing. The invisibles can only resign themselves to the task at hand, leaving little room for anyone outside of the government to really understand things as they are.
In all it's a deeply critical look at a White House that has proven one of the most secretive and aggressive in this nation's history. As a moderate, I try very hard to avoid unfair criticism of either political party's policies, but in the face of such overwhelming evidence as is presented here and elsewhere it is extremely difficult to find much to praise about the current adminstration.
–D. S. W.