from National Security and Defense Program

America the Vulnerable

How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

Three years after September 11, the United States is still dangerously unprepared to prevent or respond to another attack on its soil. Faced with this threat, the United States should be operating on a wartime footing at home. But despite the many new security precautions that have been proposed, America's most serious vulnerabilities remain ominously exposed.

The United States still offers its enemies a vast menu of soft targets: water and food supplies; chemical plants; energy grids and pipelines; bridges, tunnels, and ports; and the millions of cargo containers that carry most of the goods U.S. consumers depend on. A leading expert on homeland security, Stephen E. Flynn, says the measures cobbled together to protect these vital systems are hardly fit to deter amateur thieves, vandals, and smugglers, let alone determined terrorists. Worse still, small improvements are often oversold as giant steps forward, lowering the guard of the average citizen and building an unwarranted sense of confidence.

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The book describes a frightening scenario of what the next major terrorist attack might look like, revealing the tragic loss of life and economic havoc it would leave in its wake, as well as the seismic political consequences it would have in Washington and across the country. In a new world of heightened risk and fear, America the Vulnerable delivers a timely, forceful message that cannot be ignored.

A Council on Foreign Relations Book

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United States


Reviews and Endorsements

If officials in Washington would read just one book, this is it. It should scare us into action.

Fareed Zakaria, author, The Future of Freedom

America the Vulnerable will grip you, intrigue you, frighten you and inspire you. Flynn is a genuine expert.

Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

This book had to be written. Flynn's threat scenarios are chillingly persuasive. His urgent prescriptions are compelling.

Gary Hart, former U.S. Senator, Cochair, the United States Commission on National Security for the 21st Century

Stunningly detailed. Unsettling but necessary reading for all Americans deeply concerned about the future security of our nation.

Warren Rudman, former U.S. Senator, Cochair, the United States Commission on National Security for the 21st Century

A critical read for both our political leaders and every American citizen.

Jeffrey E. Garten, Dean, Yale School of Management

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