(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Clancy does not take a sanguine view of America's place in the modern world. For the second novel in a row, he argues that America has been weakened by cutbacks in its military and espionage budgets; in both novels the American government is unable to protect American citizens on American soil. In Debt of Honor, America's military is spread too thin to rebuff the combined military threats of Japan, India, and China; in Executive Orders, not only has America weakened its military too much, but its spy agencies lack the resources to discover and prevent terrorist attacks such as the planting of a strain of the ebola virus in the United States. Further, in the two novels, America has gone too far in eliminating its nuclear weapons; without its missiles on land and in submarines, America is not a credible threat to many of the nations of the world that are bent on harming America and its allies. America retains nuclear bombs and the aircraft to deliver them, which is just enough of a threat to make India blink at a crucial moment and to make Red China back away from its demands for Taiwan.

Plainly, Clancy regards nuclear weapons as crucial to America remaining a superpower and to protecting America's vast international interests and America's friends such as Saudi Arabia. Within the context of Executive Orders, a credible nuclear defense might have deterred much of the villainy of the narrative, and the unleashing of a "weapon of mass...

(The entire section is 386 words.)