In This Review

Preventive Defense: A New Security Strategy for America
Preventive Defense: A New Security Strategy for America
By Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry
Brookings Institution Press, 1999, 256 pp.

An unsuccessful mixture of reminiscence and policy tract by two brainy civil-servant professors. Perry, the Clinton administration's most respected and well-liked secretary of defense, features prominently (almost exclusively) in a lengthy photographic collection whose connection to the book is tenuous. The reminiscences gloss over the more interesting episodes of Perry's tenure, such as the attacks on Iraq and Yugoslavia and the simmering tensions between a conservative military and a liberal president. The book's analytical section centers around Russia and arms control, while the core of the Pentagon's business -- force structure, readiness, and contingency operations -- is relegated to a thin chapter at the end. The prescriptions are sober, moderate, and dull, and the history occasionally odd (the West enabled the rise of Hitler because it "spurned" Weimar Germany?). The authors' emphasis on events is even odder -- for example, the Yugoslavia chapter's single-minded focus on the successful deployment of Russian troops to Bosnia. The authors would have done better to stick to one genre or the other.