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Books of Note

Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons
By Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, Walker & Co., 2007, 608 pp.

The authors of Deception, British journalists with experience reporting in South Asia, add to the growing literature on Abdul Qadeer Khan, the self-styled father of the Pakistani bomb and subsequent nuclear black-market magnate. Levy and Scott- Clark present fresh autobiographical insight into Khan’s persona, even drawing on interviews with his former therapist, who diagnoses a “Hitler complex.” Much of the book is dedicated to the impact that Khan’s acquisition and later distribution of nuclear weapons material had outside Pakistan, particularly in precipitating vicious disputes within the U.S. government. Contrary to the theories of some other Khan watchers, the duo’s research leads them to the assumption that the Pakistani military as an institution willingly facilitated Khan’s proliferation activities. The book concludes that, in ignoring Pakistan’s nuclear trade, the United States sowed the seeds of its current rows with North Korea and Iran, both of which were Khan’s customers.


Twilight War: The Folly of U.S. Space Dominance
By Mike Moore, The Independent Institute, 2007, 416 pp.

Mike Moore, former editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, presents a straightforward thesis early in this book: If a cold war develops in space, the United States will have incited it; if the United States refrains from a “policy of space dominance,” a new cold war is less likely. What follows is a wide-ranging history of not only space technology, but the ideas that drive early air-power theorists and “space warriors.” Reaching as far back as Athenian democracy, the author argues that hubristic beliefs in exceptionalism, as he sees in much of the U.S. rationale for space dominance, is ultimately dangerous and risks understandable rejection by others in the international community. Instead, he calls for the United States to engage in efforts to conclude a new space treaty, despite the difficulties of verification and U.S. development of missile defense, which is akin to some antisatellite technology.


Curveball: Spies, Lies, and the Con Man Who Caused a War
By Bob Drogin, Random House, 2007, 343 pp.

Expanding on his initial reporting for the Los Angeles Times, Bob Drogin describes the story of Rafid Ahmed Alwan (Ahmed Hassan Mohammed), the Iraqi defector whose fabricated stories served as the primary source for intelligence assessments of Iraq’s alleged 2003 biological weapons program and who the CIA ironically nicknamed “Curveball.” Based on interviews and the written record, Drogin describes efforts to collect, verify, or promote Curveball’s information. He reveals how friction between the U.S. and German intelligence services, infighting within the U.S. intelligence community, and the efforts of overzealous intelligence analysts and policymakers led to a breakdown in analytical judgment about Curveball’s claims. The false claims then made their way to President George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address and Secretary of State Colin Powell’s UN speech claiming to provide evidence of Saddam Hussein’s resurgent weapons of mass destruction programs. In the end, Drogin describes how it was not until 2004 that the CIA finally gained access to one of its key sources and learned that Curveball’s claims amounted to a confidence scheme to obtain asylum in Germany, money, and a Mercedes.


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