Protect and Defend by Vince Flynn: A Book about the Dark Nature of War
My recent reviews of Term Limits and Act of Treason have probably made it clear that I’m a huge fan of Vince Flynn. His novels are fun to read, fast-paced, well-researched, and strike at deeper topics than many of the other books in the spy novel genre they are in. Protect and Defend is no different.
The story is great, the characters believable, the action scenes gripping, and all the rest of it is fun and exciting to read. I tore through it in a matter of days, despite my busy schedule, simply because it was almost impossible to put down. I wanted to know what happened to Mitch Rapp or one of the various other protagonists and antagonists in it.
Without giving anything away, the basic gist of the novel’s plot is this. Israel, worried about the Iranian nuclear program and not willing to wait for the rest of the world to act to stop Iran from building a bomb, decides to take matters into its own hands and delivers a masterful blow, taking down the Iranian facility at Isfahan. The Iranian leadership, especially President Amatullah of Iran, embarrassed and full of fire and fury, call for blood. Specifically, they want to target Americans and Israelis. Mitch Rapph, the protagonist of almost all of Flynn’s novels, devises an ingenious plot to use the event to humiliate the Iranians. Things go disastrously wrong and Rapp is forced to use brutal methods to right wrongs and save the day.
It’s a brilliant story that shows the disaster area that is the Middle East in a truthful, and thus quite unflattering, light. Hezbollah, Mossad, the CIA, the Revolutionary Guards, the Kurds, and many of the other parties constantly fighting for influence in the fertile crescent are all involved and presented in a realistic light. Flynn pulls no punches, whether describing the Iranians and their crazy leaders or the US and its weak bureaucrats that are perpetually unwilling to do what needs to be done.
But that storyline isn’t what makes Protect and Defend such an excellent book. The story is good, but not exceptional. The theme of the book, the dark side of war and what needs to be done when fighting brutal enemies is.
A long-running torture scene, a scene that defines the book, is the crux of that. Rapp knows what he needs to do to save the day, and it’s not pretty. In fact, it’s quite brutal and is enough to make the squeamish D.C. armchair warriors very uncomfortable. But it is what the situation requires, so he does it.
The D.C. types are, of course, outraged that he would do such a thing. They simply can’t understand why events on the ground would dictate torture and attack Rapp for utilizing brutal methods, even though, as Rapp sardonically notes, those same squeamish men and women in suits would be hoping without hope he would use those same methods to save them if it came to it.
That fight, the fight over what Washington wants to allow and what really needs to be done, is a recurrent theme in Flynn’s books and is what sets them apart from those of many other authors. He’s not politically correct and says what needs to be said- we’re fighting evil, brutal people who wouldn’t think twice about torturing us. If torturing them means better outcomes could be achieved, then why not do what needs to be done?
Protect and Defend is an exceptionally well-done book and one that you must read if you want to understand the true nature of the war on terror and why America seems to constantly fail in the Middle East.
By: Gen Z Conservative