Review: Fiasco–The American Military Adventure in Iraq (Hardcover)

5 Star, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Iraq, Misinformation & Propaganda, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Extraordinarily Good Review, with Sadness of Deja Vu and Silence of the Lambs,

August 9, 2006
Thomas E. Ricks
There are other vital books to read, not least of which is James Risens State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration and Jim Bamford’s A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies and Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq as well as The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End. There are lesser books as well, such as Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. On balance, of all the books I have read, this is the best and easiest to read chronicle and teaching device.

Everyone preparing to vote in November for the gutless Congress that betrayed America and failed to maintain either the power of the purse or the power to declare war, should read this book.

And when future politicians who were military commanders that failed to speak up (“the silence of the lambs” as the author notes) ask for your vote, laugh in their face.

There are leadership heros in this book–General Zinni of the Marine Corps, General Shinseki, who told the truth to Congress and was fired for his trouble (as was General Clapper, who said that the national agencies could be cut free from defense). Garner and the Army generals were on the right track, until Garner was fired for doing the right thing (trying to accelerate the turnover of authority to the Iraqis and the exit of Americans).

There are also villains. Chalabi gets his due share but in my view the author underestimates Chalabi’s influence on Cheney, and Chalabi’s treasonous representation of Iranian interests.

Rumsfeld is documented over and over as one massive ego completely uncaring of inter-agency effectiveness or accomodating to reality.

Edit of 10 Sep 06: the author appeared on a Sunday talk show today, and pointed out that it was Paul Bremer who gave the Iraqi insurgency everything they needed: 1) leadership, with his order to ban Bathists from responsible positions; 2) guns and volunteers with his order to disband the Iraqi military and police; and 3) finances, providing Iran with exactly the right opportunity to further its interests. It can be said that Bremer has done more damange to America than Bin Laden–what an obituary that makes!

This is a superb chronicle of who shot John, when, and how. The headings for each section of text are brilliant. When I first got the book I flipped through it and read only the headings, and they were as compelling and concise of summary of our botched endeavor in Iraq as one could want.

If you buy and read only one book from among all those I have mentioned, this is the book to buy.

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