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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
In a response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that is sure to raise eyebrows (not to mention blood pressure), novelist and historian Gore Vidal raises the little-asked question, "Did we get a taste of our own medicine?"
Vidal's position is that the U.S. has often done to other countries what Osama bin Laden is suspected of doing to us on 9/11:
…Since 1947 America has been the chief and pioneering perpetrator of "pre-emptive" state terror, exclusively in the Third World and thus widely dissembled…Washington has resorted to political assassinations, surrogate death squads, and unseemly freedom fighters (e.g. bin Laden).As evidence for his claim that we've been doing what we claim our "evil" enemies have done to us (Vidal criticizes George W. Bush for what he calls simplistic "We are good, they are evil" statements), Vidal includes an eye-opening ten-page list of U.S. actions against what he terms the "enemy of the month club," ranging all the way from the Cold War to the recent actions in Kosovo and Bosnia.
Lest one think Vidal is merely anti-GOP, he also laces into former president Bill Clinton for signing the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which he says effectively gives the government unprecedented power to use the U.S. armed forces against the civilian population. At length, he criticizes the Branch Dividian raid in Waco by Clinton attorney general Janet Reno as government-sponsored murder of a group "living peaceably in their own compound."
A large part of the book is devoted to Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing. Vidal clearly feels that there was a rush to judgment by the government; it's his opinion that McVeigh is a scapegoat of sorts, a fall guy swiftly executed without a thorough enough investigation as to whether anyone else was involved. (Vidal corresponded with the convicted domestic terrorist for a brief period; McVeigh had written him a fan letter after reading one of his magazine pieces.)
No matter how one feels about terrorism, foreign or domestic, this is a book guaranteed to add to the noisy debate surrounding what is undoubtedly the most pressing issue of the day. (Nicholas Sinisi)
Nicholas Sinisi is the Barnes & Noble.com Current Events editor.