The Line of Fire: From Washington to the Gulf, the Politics and Battles of the New Military

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9780671727031: The Line of Fire: From Washington to the Gulf, the Politics and Battles of the New Military
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On September 19, 1992, Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr., made headlines with his endorsement of Democrat Bill Clinton as President of the United States. Washington took sharp notice: Crowe, a staunch advocate of military strength, had served for four years - under both Presidents Reagan and Bush - as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As the top-ranking officer in the American military, he held all of its branches and forces, outposts from the South Pacific to the North Atlantic, from Antarctica to Central America, under the sweep of his command. To this day, many Clinton strategists perceive Crowe's endorsement and his subsequent work for Clinton as one of the campaign's turning points.
It was an unexpected move. But Washington, luckily, had learned to expect surprises from the candid, witty Oklahoman whose tenure as commander was marked by an openness to change rarely encountered in the military hierarchy's upper ranks.
As his memoir, The Line of Fire, makes clear, quick change has been a constant in Crowe's career - a fast flight up the chain of command that began just after World War II at the height of the Cold War, reaching its apex with the thaw and the beginning of a new era in foreign relations. Few military men's careers provide such a vantage on so many momentous transitions and events: women in the ranks; the new high-tech range of weaponry and machinery; and the rise of a new breed of military leader, men like Crowe himself, trained in the halls of Congress as well as on the battlefield. Crowe shows where the military has been - and where it must go.
He takes us into the secret world of the Pentagon, where we see the sophisticated war games staged by the highest officials in the land. He takes us inside the story of the build-up of tensions in the Gulf, explaining what we have never really understood about the accidental shoot-down of an Iranian Airbus by the cruiser Vincennes and about the U.S. raid on Libya (why we never intended to kill Qaddafi; why Caspar Weinberger would never admit that the U.S. did hit the French embassy). Admiral Crowe shows us the most significant military and political events of the last decade as we have never seen them before.
Crowe explains why nuclear weapons are our least effective defense; takes a critical look at Desert Storm (an ideal battle situation); speculates on the ending of the Cold War (George Bush was only one of the many contributors); and tells the story of his special friendship with Marshal of the Soviet Union Sergei Akhromeyev (the Soviet chief of staff), who shared many of his concerns about the future of nuclear weapons and U.S.-Soviet relations.
As never before, Crowe's memoir explains the world of political maneuvering that lies behind military decision-making. From the battlefield to Capitol Hill, Crowe gives a candid, always interesting look at modern military life - and his concerns for our future.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The low-key memoirs of a retired admiral whose ascent to four- star rank owed more to his world-class skills as a statesman and technocrat than to time at sea. Crowe--General Colin Powell's predecessor as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff--made the most of his opportunities during a productive career that lasted just a bit longer than the cold war. A 1946 graduate of Annapolis, the Oklahoma-born author served aboard diesel-fueled submarines before the first of many assignments to the Pentagon, where he was invariably an aide to senior officers holding down influential operations and/or planning posts. Crowe (who holds a doctorate in political science) finally saw some combat as an advisor to riverine forces toward the end of the Vietnam War, and he went on to top commands at NATO and in the Pacific, after which President Reagan named him to head the JCS. Not one to underrate his own contributions, he devotes roughly half his text--written with the assistance of Chanoff (coauthor, Portrait of the Enemy, 1986)--to the four eventful years he spent on this demanding job. Among other excitements on Crowe's watch, the Achille Lauro was hijacked; the US launched a reprisal raid against Qaddafi; and Washington agreed to convoy Kuwait's tanker fleet through the Persian Gulf. On the home front, Congress passed the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, calculated to curb interservice rivalries and otherwise make the American military more efficient. Crowe refused President Bush's request to stay on, and he became a civilian in 1989, later attracting attention for his support of Bill Clinton's bid for the White House. An insider's illuminating, if tactful, appraisal of a defense establishment in transition, as well as of its varied constituencies and critics. (Eight pages of b&w photos--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Though he was assigned fewer seagoing commands than most of his Navy brethren (and was "never a very 'military' individual"), Crowe's abilities in strategic planning, military-congressional politics and international relations were recognized early on by his superiors. He eventually served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs under presidents Reagan and Bush. Here he discusses his role in the military's biggest recent challenges, e.g., the downfall of Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, confrontation with Libyan strongman Muammar Khaddafy, and the development of U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf. The admiral explains why he opposed the drive to implement the Star Wars program. Crowe makes perceptive, provocative and illuminating observations about the relationships between the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, the White House and the news media and clarifies how high-level military policy is made. His story of his warm but ultimately sorrowful friendship with Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, his Soviet counterpart, will not soon be forgotten by readers. The Marshal, unable to cope with the fall of Communism, committed suicide. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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