Friday, September 12, 2008


General William Odom died earlier this year. He had a long and distinguished career in the US military and government serving in Vietnam, as defense attache in Moscow and ultimately as the Director of the National Security Agency. After retirement he taught and was a fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute. Odom was iconoclastic which shows as he was recently praised both by the American Conservative and also by Harvard's Nieman Watchdog.

Like Andrew Bacevich, Odom was a conservative anti-imperialist. As long as it didn't cost the country too much, as in the 90s, it wasn't a problem, but in the Bush years it has clearly become a problem. Odom's in testimony to Congress and in the op-ed pages called for immediate withdrawal from Iraq for years.

His stance on Iraq is admirable, but his older books should also get a look. His Fixing Intelligence is one of the best books on the intelligence community for the lay reader. His America's Inadvertent Empire argues that it is institutions rather than military power that makes the US strong. And while I have not read it, his Collapse of the Soviet Military is highly regarded.

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