Clear And Present Danger

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Betrayal, corruption, drugs, and a chaotic power struggle were the key elements used to make Tom Clancy's "Clear and Present Danger" a political history lesson. It closely examines the inner workings of our so called "ideal" government as it portrays a side where bureaucrats, including the President himself, are blundering in their decisions and concerned only with keeping their good names untarnished. Their true source of power is how the public eye looks at them and will go to any length to preserve that image. But America is not the only place where importance was based on how much power you had. The Colombian drug cartel was driven by the idea that the more money you had, the more invincible you became.

In this case, some things never change as history continues to repeat itself over and over again. Our government is still controlling exactly how much of the truth is displayed to our society and continues to worry about their opinion more than anything.

The overshadowing court case concerning the two pirates is a poor example of our judiciary system. Instead of getting proper justice, two men would've gotten about eight years in prison for brutally murdering a family and raping the women. It hardly seems fair; but even though they got their proper reward in the end, it was because the police force made a deal with two convicted killers. They were asked to dispose of the pirates with the reward of their release. Our democracy has been crumbling ever since it was established, but still it's the best we have.

The Colombian society portrayed in this novel was no better as it contained a powerful, illegal faction that pretty much ran the country. The only way some of the inhabitants could earn a living was by working toward the problem; i.e. drugs. Drugs themselves have been a rising problem through the later years of history and continue to grow. It was also drugs that started this conflict in the first place.

America was keeping the Colombians on a short leash. Looking to eliminate drugs was their objective and it included bringing down over half a dozen Colombian planes. Frustrated at the disappearance of his planes, one Cartel chieftain Escobedo hired a man by the name of Felix Cortez. Cortez was smart and that's what made him dangerous. As with any time period, brains were power and Cortez certainly knew how to use his to their fullest advantage.

He was responsible for seducing the secretary of FBI Director Emil Jacobs and it was from her that he learned of Jacob's secret plans to visit the Colombian Attorney General. Having reported this information back to Escobedo, he continued to explore the American government for vulnerabilities. It came, though, as no surprise when Emil Jacobs was assassinated while driving through the Colombian streets on his was to the Embassy. Unwilling to bear American interference anymore, one drug chieftain had stepped over the line and made the message clear that they would no longer tolerate these actions.

It seems ironic in this situation that any opposing force can come, kill our people and destroy lives; but when and if we strike back, we are looked upon as bullies beating up on the little guy. Therefore, the President decided to put together a special covert operations team to cripple the drug ring. Four groups of specially trained men were deposited in the heart of Colombia and began to upset the production of drugs. Meanwhile, two agents were sent on a bombing mission with the intent to eliminate as many, if not all, of the chieftains as possible. This is a good example of human nature. If someone hits you hard, the usual response is to hit back twice as hard. The two bombs, which were dropped by America, proved to be a mistake. Despite the fact that many of the targets were eliminated, many more innocent people were killed by the blast.

This would prove to be the most damaging to the President. With an election in the near future and his competitor neck and neck with him, one slip could cost him the Presidency. He ordered Vice Admiral Cutter to terminate the entire operation, lest Congress discovered what they were up to. Cutter ended the mission, which included telling the people who were meant to retrieve the soldiers who were still fighting for their lives in Colombia not to go. He also met with Cortez and is forced into the devil's bargain, which was to leave Cortez to take over the drug operations in exchange for cutting the export of drugs to America by half, under fear that he would be prosecuted if Congress ever found out.

Enter Jack Ryan. He was the next in line for the position of District Director of Intelligence because the man there, James Greer, had poor health that was failing him. All throughout this was happening, the two worked in conjunction to uncover the truth hidden behind the word "confidential." Thanks to Greer, and his knowledge of the safe combination that hid the files for the operations, Ryan caught on to what was happening. It was then he learned of the operation's termination and the desertion of the troops in Colombia. How could Cutter just leave them stranded knowing that he had just signed their death warrants and still continue to try and save his own butt? It was now up to Jack and a few other sergeants to rescue the men.

In the end, the troops were rescued and given the right opportunity to make one final strike against the Cartel. The result was the capture of not only Escobedo but Felix Cortez as well. Escobedo was released back into the hands of his fellow members while Cortez was taken back to the states. He could've received capital punishment for his crimes but thanks to our system, plea-bargained for all the information he knew and escaped conviction. One may think that he got off easy but America wasn't done with him yet. They released him back to Colombian officials, fully loaded with evidence that would surely kill him.

Cutter was informed that his operation and meeting with Cortez was brought into the light, so he committed suicide rather than face life in prison. The President met with Ryan in his office and decided to try for one last-ditch effort to save himself. Asking Ryan to lie for him and therefore save him from prosecution proved to be useless. The President would now get what he deserved, and a new official would take office.

The book "Clear and Present Danger' showed us exactly how stupid we can be when faced with the choice of doing the right thing, or letting others die for our mistakes. Even today, we still don't know all the government does and never will for so long as there are people in power who think theirs is the right decision to make. How many more people will die before we realize that history is a giant loop? It could take years, or for all we know something like this could happen tomorrow. When it does, hopefully we'll be smart enough to learn from past mistakes and solve this problem before it grows again.