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Playing politics puts administration in ex-sniper's sights

| Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, 9:00 p.m.

Scott Taylor's “Trust Betrayed: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Selling Out of America's National Security” (Regnery, available Monday) is a different sort of American sniper book — more about targeting the Obama administration politically than about targeting battlefield enemies militarily.

Taylor served as a Navy SEAL sniper for nearly a decade and was seriously injured in a 20-foot fall in Iraq. After leaving the military, he became chairman of the Special Operations OPSEC (for “operational security”) Education Fund Inc., a national-security PAC that called out the Obama administration during the 2012 campaign, contending that politically motivated leaks of sensitive information had endangered American warriors and interests.

A Republican, Taylor lost a 2010 congressional primary but now holds a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. The book's focus, though, is national and international, citing numerous examples to bolster its case.

Among them are Vice President Joe Biden revealing that it was SEAL Team Six that killed Osama bin Laden, which led to further revelations about the team's size, aircraft and bomb-sniffing dog. Taylor says that by making such details public, “Biden had put the lives of every SEAL and every SEAL's family in danger.”

Addressing the fatal Benghazi fiasco, Taylor blames inadequate diplomatic security on the administration's desire to be seen as having a “light footprint” in Libya — a result of “American foreign policy … being run under the Obama doctrine, with U.S. interests coming a distant second or third to other considerations — primarily his re-election.” Taylor warns that such foreign policy has reduced U.S. influence and alienated America's allies in the Middle East.

And Taylor clearly has the 2016 presidential election in mind when he writes: “We cannot afford another president — whatever his or her party, and whatever his or her view of world affairs — who plays politics with our national security and foreign policy for personal gain the way Obama and Clinton have … . But we can always start again.”

RECONSIDERING THE CRUSADES

“The Glory of the Crusades” by Steve Weidenkopf (Catholic Answers) — The author, who lectures on the history of the Catholic Church at Christendom College's Notre Dame Graduate School in Alexandria, Va., contends that today's usual view of the Crusades is warped by an anti-Catholic agenda that arose during the Reformation, was perpetuated by Enlightenment figures and underlies the movie and TV depictions that form most people's impressions of them. Basing his approach on what he considers the best medieval scholarship, he would have readers understand the Crusades as they were understood in their own time — as valorous efforts by sincere people of genuine faith to take back once-Christian lands in the Middle East from Muslim conquerors, not as wars motivated by greed or religious intolerance. This book should draw more interest amid controversy over President Obama's recent National Prayer Breakfast remarks about the Crusades and terrorism.

BATTLING THE TALIBAN

“88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary” by Robert L. Grenier (Simon & Schuster) — As CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002, the author shaped the implementation of policy set shortly after 9/11 by President George W. Bush — which in effect meant directing the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He describes dealings with Afghan warlords, Taliban dissidents, Pakistani intelligence and military officers and diplomats, U.S. military brass, Washington bureaucrats and Pashtun tribal leader Hamid Karzai, whose return to Afghanistan from Pakistan to head an anti-Taliban insurgency was facilitated by the CIA. Grenier expresses few regrets about how the U.S. campaign was conducted while recounting it. But near the book's end, he does reflect more thoughtfully on that time. Readers will have to take him at his word for much; as a New York Times review noted, he employs “reconstructed dialogue” and offers little in terms of viewpoints beyond his own.

IN THE PIPELINE

Forthcoming titles from both ends of the political spectrum:

Conservative

• “The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man's Fight for Justice and Freedom in China” by Chen Guangcheng (Henry Holt and Co., March 10)

• “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right's Future” by Charles C.W. Cooke (Crown Forum, March 10)

• “Stassen Again” by Steve Werle (Minnesota Historical Society Press, March 15)

• “Washington's Circle: The Creation of the President” by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler (Random House, March 17)

• “Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad” (seventh edition) by Gordon Thomas (St. Martin's Griffin, March 17)

Liberal

• “Class War Conservatism and Other Essays” by Ralph Miliband, introduction by Tariq Ali (Verso, March 10)

• “Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted” by Ian Millhiser (Nation Books, March 24)

• “On Palestine” by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, edited by Frank Barat (Haymarket Books, March 24)

• “Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels” by Richard Heinberg (New Society Publishers, March 31)

• “The New Prophets of Capital” by Nicole Aschoff (Verso, March 31)

Alan Wallace is a Trib Total Media editorial page writer (412-320-7983 or awallace@tribweb.com).

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