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Oh, you mean that OTHER Jack Ryan…

I was recently re-reading some of my Tom Clancy collection (say what you want about the man, he virtually invented the technothriller genre), and a few things struck me as odd. While the former insurance salesman has proven frighteningly accurate about a few things, almost to a supernatural degree, he has also shown himself more than willing to strap on his blinders to some other elements.

(Note: I'm putting most of this piece in the extended entry. For one, it contains spoilers for several of Clancy's later books. For another, I suspect a lot of people simply won't care.)

This is especially true in the books “The Sum Of All Fears” through “Debt Of Honor” and “Executive Orders.” I re-read of “Sum” shows a high White House official (the National Security Advisor) being implicated in a sex scandal with a Jewish woman in her early 20’s. It also features an FBI agent named Bill Clinton, and a second National Security Advisor who not only seems very similar to Hillary Clinton, but ends up sleeping with the president to boot. “Sum Of All Fears” was first published in 1991, right around the time Monica Lewinski was graduating high school and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was deciding to run for president..

“Debt of Honor” features an actual shooting war with Japan, but the part that struck me the most was, after the end of hostilities, a lone pilot crashes a 747 into the Capitol Building, wiping out nearly the entire U.S. government. Clancy describes in chilling detail the near-impossibility of stopping an airliner before it strikes a building, and the horrifying effects of several hundred tons of airplane and jet fuel when deliberately rammed into a building. “Debt Of Honor” was first published in 1994, within a year of the first, unsuccessful bombing of the World Trade Centers and seven years before the second, final attack.

On the other hand, though, Clancy has a strange view of the Middle East conflicts. His Saudis, as represented by the noble, charming, honorable, and downright ginchy Prince Ali, are America’s staunchest ally in the Middle East. They come running whenever they hear news that might affect us, give us unquestioned support, and gladly accept our unconditional pledge of defense. They are also our leading allies in the war against terror, even trying and beheading the men who set off a nuclear bomb at the Super Bowl in Denver.

The Palestinians, in “Sum,” finally find a tactic that works against the Israelis. A few enlightened leaders study the American Civil Rights movement and peacefully occupy the Temple Mount while singing “We Shall Overcome” in Arabic. A slightly deranged Israeli policeman (who has recently fallen under the sway of some ultra-Conservative leaders) loses his temper and kills their leader without provocation. The sudden loss of moral superiority by the Israelis leads to a settlement of the Jerusalem issue (and, by implication, the whole Palestinian homeland question).

In “Executive Orders,” Iran’s religious leader arranges the assassination of Saddam Hussein as the first step of the unification of the two countries. It’s repeatedly stated that despite their long history of hostility, Islam is a unifying force between Iran and Iraq and smoothes over all the problems. Apparently in Tom Clancy’s world, Shiites and Sunnis get along just grandly, and the Kurds are quite content to remain a docile minority.

The Israelis, though, don’t fare quite so well in the Clancyverse. In “Sum,” the bomb that destroys Denver is made from a bomb that Israel lost in Syria during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. The plutonium for that bomb was apparently stolen from a U.S. reactor (that part is reportedly true), and since the bomb is lost behind Syrian lines, Israel just hopes that it disappeared forever.

There’s also a bit where Jack Ryan asks the head of the Mossad if he arranged the sex scandal that brought down the National Security Advisor – the girl was Jewish, after all, and everyone knows the Israelis play hardball.

Also, the Israelis themselves are seen as paranoid and intransigent at the peace proposal, finally having to be coerced by the U.S. to accept this solution that’s “for their own good.” Clancy does toss in a few kind words for the competence and professionalism of Shin Bet and Mossad (Israel’s intelligence services), but for the most part it almost comes across as grudging praise.

I used to wish we lived in Tom Clancy’s universe rather than our own. On the one hand, we’d still have the World Trade Center and the War On Terror would be considerably dialed back. On the other hand, though, he did nuke Denver, and he also used weaponized Ebola to kill another 10,000 Americans in “Executive Orders.”

I’m trying to pin down just when I started losing my respect for Tom Clancy. It could have been when he realized he’d written himself into a corner with the Jack Ryan franchise, and decided to “fast forward” to a 22-year-old Jack Ryan, Jr. and start a new series of books (“The Teeth Of The Tiger”). Or it might have been when he started writing essentially half-novels and selling them at full price (“Red Rabbit,” “The Teeth Of The Tiger”). It might have been when he wrote an entire “novel” to plug a line of video games (“Rainbow Six”). It could have been when he started spending page after page lecturing readers on his economic and political beliefs (“Debt Of Honor,” “Executive Orders”). But I think it was when he started franchising his reputation, allowing his name to be slapped on series of books he had only a passing involvement with (Op Center, Net Force, etc. etc.) in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

Regardless, I’ve bought my last Clancy hardcover. I’ll read it, then maybe get the paperback. Clancy went to the well too many times, and I’m tired of chugging down mud.


Comments (13)

Interestingly, I keep waiti... (Below threshold)

Interestingly, I keep waiting for a Palestinian Gandhi or MLK Jr. to show up. If the Palestinians chose to use nonviolence in their intifada, it really could change the current dynamic of the Israel/Palestinian conflict.


PennyWit, the Palestinian G... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

PennyWit, the Palestinian Gandhi and Martin Luther King showed up a while ago. They were dragged out in the streets and shot as "collaborators" by masked "Palestinian authorities."


Jay, I think you are being ... (Below threshold)

Jay, I think you are being too hard. I dont agree at all with Mass Murder in the name of liberation politics, it is a failed philosophy, but I do have some very close Palestinian American friends, and the truth is that their history and the injustices commited against them has never been presented to American public, partially at least becuase they have chosen terrorism as a method to fight their battles, nevertheless the stories are sad, and perhaps one day we will get to hear their side from a leader who understands that this war will never be won by violence.

Everybody's got a sad story... (Below threshold)

Everybody's got a sad story to tell. People who let their sob stories become their culture and identity, are thus putting themselves into a death spiral. In theory the Palestinians could recover by following a leader who rejects terrorism, but Jay has a point about what's been happening to those who want peace.

Sadly, the only way to finally convince the rank-and-file Palestinian to abandon the terrorists is for it to be shown once and for all and in no uncertain terms, that terrorism isn't going to work. And that, unfortunately, is going to require the Palestinians to suffer even more than they already are.

Hey McGehee, I agree with y... (Below threshold)

Hey McGehee, I agree with you in principle, but the point I was trying to make is that their story has never really been told. My friends are very successful Americans of Palestinian descent. They are far from being sob story types, but I have heard their stories, and what has happened to their families (Israeli land grabs and what not), is tragic. Fairness dictates that we at least try to be fair about what is going on in Israel.

If their stories are so sym... (Below threshold)

If their stories are so sympathetic, all the more reaosn to drop terrorism as a tactic and instead go the MLK route...

David, I didn't intend this... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

David, I didn't intend this thread to revolve strictly around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but my opinions are built around three simple contrasts.

Most extreme example of Israeli jurisprudence: mass murderers are tried and sentenced to life imprisonment, or until released to save kidnapped hostages.
Most extreme example of Palestinian jurisprudence: "Israeli collaborators" are, upon accusation, publicly executed without benefit of trial.

Most widely protested Israeli atrocity: building a wall.
Most widely protested Palestinian atrocity: blowing up buses.

Israeli reaction to 9/11 attacks on the US: Public declarations of sympathy, lining up to donate blood, offers of rescue assistance.

Palestinian reaction to 9/11 attacks on the US: Public declarations of support for Bin Laden, singing and dancing in the streets, giving sweets to children to celebrate.

I could go on, David, but I think I made my point... if someone wants my sympathy, it helps if they act in a remotely sympathetic fashion.


I have to agree with your a... (Below threshold)

I have to agree with your assessment of Clancy's declining talents. I am done being duped into buying substandard hardcovers. I guess I enjoyed his early work so much (I reread Red October frequently), that I ignored the declining quality of his work and I continued to get in line and buy his hardcovers. That ended with "Teeth of the Tiger". Although I can appreciate the idea behind of a team of assassins that travels the world elminating the heart of the terror network, the book was awful. There are whole pages of fantastically repetitive drivel. I frequently noted the same sentence reprinted only pages apart. It seems to me that Clancy's ego has gotten so big, he has become un-editable, but the publishing house tolerates it because shlubs like me go out and buy anything he writes. No more.

Okay JT, I need to answer t... (Below threshold)

Okay JT, I need to answer this, been waiting all night to answer it actually, since we had a power failure last night locking out my entire grid. Here goes:

“Most extreme example of Israeli jurisprudence: mass murderers are tried and sentenced to life imprisonment, or until released to save kidnapped hostages.”

I think you are forgetting the assassinations of Palestinian leaders without trial, systematically and without regard to innocent bystanders. I am not commenting on the guilt or innocence of those assassinated, but you comment above is hardly representative of the most extreme of Israeli punitive actions. I likewise could go on but I believe I have made my point on this one.

“Most extreme example of Palestinian jurisprudence: "Israeli collaborators" are, upon accusation, publicly executed without benefit of trial.”

I can not speak to this, as I have not personally seen many examples of it, or at least enough to say that it is common.

“Most widely protested Israeli atrocity: building a wall.”

Eh JT, I know that some people choose to see things as they want to, but this is HARDLY the case. Israeli “mistakes” in their assassination programs. The Bulldozing of the homes of convicted terrorist, therefore rendering their wives and children homeless and punishing by association. The abuses against Palestinian citizens, the seizing of land for settlements, are all documented by non partisan groups, and are outside the realm of international law. I would certainly call these atrocities.

“Most widely protested Palestinian atrocity: blowing up buses.”


“Israeli reaction to 9/11 attacks on the US: Public declarations of sympathy, lining up to donate blood, offers of rescue assistance.”


“Palestinian reaction to 9/11 attacks on the US: Public declarations of support for Bin Laden, singing and dancing in the streets, giving sweets to children to celebrate.”

That was the reaction broadcast around the world true. But as I said, I know Palestinians personally, and while they are resentful of the way the United States has handled the peace process, they were far from celebratory over 9/11. In fact, while I believe there were many Palestinians who were happy over 9/11, there were also many who felt pain and revulsion at what happened. There were images of celebrations throughout the entire Arab world, including Saudi Arabia, but I don’t see you pointing that out?

My point is a simple one. I believe in the State of Israel. But I also believe that we can not continue to shut our eyes to abuses or gives slaps on the wrist, as we have done with the last two assassinations. Words like, “That was not helpful,” coming from the White House in the face of an assassination, is not the answer to dealing with this issue. While I recognize that Sharron has made some positive steps towards the peace process, there is much to be done on both sides.

"I think you are forgett... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

"I think you are forgetting the assassinations of Palestinian leaders without trial, systematically and without regard to innocent bystanders."

Actually, David, Israel has shown incredible regard for innocent bystanders, to the point of forgoing attacks when the targets are surrounded by civilians and reducing the warheads in missiles to minimize additional casualties.

And under international law, the safety of those bystanders is not Israel's responsibility, but those they target -- see my posting here which cites the Geneva Convention, which places the onus on keeping away from civilians (and, by extension, the onus of any subsequent casualties) squarely on the combatants.

As far as the reactions to 9/11 -- I didn't point out the widespread Arab praise for the attacks because the discussion was strictly about the Palestinians. Yeah, it was contemptible, and I (like most Americans) will have long memories of those days.

Now, as to your Palestinian friends' reactions... I was talking strictly about the reactions of the Palestinians in the Middle East. They have devolved into a cult of perpetual victimhood and death-worship (to see the death worship in action, go over to Little Green Footballs and search for "car swarm"), and to "reward" them with statehood would be the worst thing we could do for them, the Israelis, and the entire world.

But now to drag the topic kicking and screaming back to it's original subject... I forgot to mention Clancy's French fetish. According to his books, the French are the most civilized, polite, professional people in the world, and eager to repay favors done to them.

Man, whatever he's drinking/smoking/swallowing/shooting up, I wish he'd share...


Hey, you want uncanny reali... (Below threshold)

Hey, you want uncanny realism that comes from a movie made prior to 9/11 check out the film
THE SIEGE holy crap, this flick practically predicted everything that is happeining now. From the mass attack on US soil, the military response even the torture and murders are predicted. Amazing!

Jews have more than a littl... (Below threshold)
John Doe:

Jews have more than a little influence in the American media, so it is not surprising the 'Arab side' of the story doesn't get told. Sixty percent of Americans support Israel, compared to forty percent of Europeans; the difference is due to media bias.

I don't know what effect the occupation has on Arab infant mortality, but if it has increased it the Israelis could be responsible for the deaths of over a million Arabs--far worse than building a wall.

Speculative fiction seems to underestimate the degree of decadence in the West, and the degree to which non-Whites are colonizing Western countries.

Oh good, the old "Jews run ... (Below threshold)

Oh good, the old "Jews run the media" trope! I hadn't realized how much I missed that.

Truly, if the Jewish influence on the media were so widespread, how is it that these stories get lots of press:
UN condemnation of Israeli actions
Jenin "massacre", without followup about what was manipulated in that event
Palestinian "right of return" requests, without noting how they would effectively remove the housing rights of existing Israeli citizens.

Riddle me that, Batman.






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