October 2, 2012
When the Soviet Union posed an existential threat to America, there was no room for mistakes. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, under President Jimmy Carter, called on his former experience as Secretary of the Air Force (under LBJ in the Vietnam War), as director of Livermore Laboratory, and as director of U.S. Defense Research and Engineering (under Kennedy) to deter the Soviets during the Cold War. No one could have been better prepared than Brown.
The Soviets were not the only problem he faced head on. In his new book Star Spangled Security: Applying Lessons Learned over Six Decades Safeguarding America, with co-author Joyce Winslow, he takes us inside his thinking and emotions during the unsuccessful Iranian hostage rescue attempt. He writes about how defense budget planning changed radically under his early mentor, Robert McNamara, and how to budget for national security today. He tells how he re-invigorated NATO with the “three percent solution.” He offers a firsthand account of China as the first American secretary of defense to visit there and establish military-to-military relations. After recently heading a commission to understand China's military capabilities, he advises what weapons systems we lack that could help protect our interests in the western Pacific now.
While Brown was president of Caltech from 1969 to 1977, he helped negotiate SALT I. As secretary of defense he was a key supporter of SALT II to limit nuclear weapons, even as he developed a new generation of their delivery systems—cruise missiles, land and sea-based ballistic missiles, stealth aircraft, GPS, satellites, and more.
In this book he bridges all his experience to the future, offering specific advice on how to prevent rogue nations from using nuclear weapons, and how to consider future American alliances, given our values and interests, in a turbulent world.
Since leaving government, Brown has served on the boards of directors of a dozen corporations. Reflecting on his multi-faceted career, he gives the reader insider access to the decisions, players, and politics in Livermore Lab, the Cabinet Room, the Pentagon, corporate boardrooms, and the world stage. His counsel can benefit all Americans—from voters to aspiring leaders. Wry, self-effacing, and highly readable, Brown's book is part memoir, part advice for the future, and entirely instructive.
Brown was U.S. secretary of defense from 1977 to 1981. His unique, ongoing career spans science, academia, government, and the corporate sector over ten presidencies. He is currently trustee emeritus of the RAND Corporation and a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Winslow is a Washington journalist, op-ed editor, and a prize-winning fiction author in The Best American Short Story collection.