The former National Security Adviser to President Clinton tugs mightily to stretch what is at heart an op-ed piece into a full-dress jeremiad. Lake’s unremarkable thesis is that, although the Cold War is over and the Doomsday clock is ticking a little more slowly, there are still plenty of bad guys out there waiting to bring down Western civilization. Their newfangled weapons range from laptop computers to nerve gas, from fertilizer bombs to ethnic propaganda. In the author’s view, the West is unprepared to deal with such threats, given its fondness for bills of rights and its prevailing view that we need not spend quite as much money on war materiel as was deemed necessary when the Soviet Union was a going concern. But Lake’s view is unremittingly apocalyptic, from his Hooverian title to his painful stretches of invented dialogue and imagined correspondence—presumably thrown in to pep up what would otherwise be a humdrum set of end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it adages and wonkish policy recommendations. “When confronted by governments with murky ties to terrorists, or by those terrorist organizations themselves,” he declares, “we need to secure more options for action between launching missiles, especially without a clear basis, or meekly accepting our fate.”
A pretty damp squib.