Fred Charles Iklé, Annihilation from Within(New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 142 pp., $24.50.
FRED CHARLES Iklé has been called one of America's two or three remaining "strategic long-range thinkers." Undersecretary of defense for Political Affairs and chief of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Ronald Reagan, the distinguished scholar from CSIS now has written a suggestive and disturbing book. Based on his practical experience and the futuristic thinking for which he has become known, his book calls attention to developing threats that receive little official attention or discussion in the media.
Though he is a "hardliner", Iklé's lifelong preoccupation has been preventing the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction, whether by the superpowers, rogue states or-what now draws more of his attention-homegrown terrorists. Iklé takes a measure of personal pride, quite rightly, for helping to prevent nuclear usage during the Cold War when temptations were high (nuclear-armed superpower antagonists squaring-off in Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and Europe), but states capable of delivering nuclear weapons were relatively few and easily identifiable. But ours is a brave new world where "the ineluctable dissemination of technological and scientific discoveries" may soon make nuclear and biological weapons available to insurgents, terrorists, anarchists and doomsday cults. More and more countries will import plutonium fuel adaptable for building weapons. The Internet offers the bomb-maker unprecedented access to data. And the contemporary nation-state often lacks the will or the means to prevent spectacular mass terrorism.