You will find some newsy revelations in Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda (Times Books, $27). But what really makes this book significant is the overarching story Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker have pieced together about the evolution of thinking within the Bush and Obama administrations. They explain in considerable detail how the strategy for combating violent extremism has progressed from President Bush’s initial instinct to dispatch U.S. forces to kill or capture terrorists, to what is now a much more nuanced and complex approach aimed at trying to deter terrorism through all sorts of means. This can range from going after the financing of terrorist networks to information operations designed to discredit al Qaeda among the larger Muslim public. Just like deterrence policy during the Cold War, this new deterrence strategy against terrorists and their supporters can, the authors suggest, eventually succeed in altering enemy behavior.
(This book cannot be returned.)