The Bush Legacy

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The Bottom Line
Where previous books I’ve read on the Bush adventure have taken us to and briefly beyond our initial occupation, Fiasco takes through 2004, with in depth analysis of the insurgency.

The brand new book by Thomas Ricks’– Fiasco, provides the reader with an informative assessment of the conception, planning, prosecution and aftermath of the unprovoked invasion of Iraq. Intentional or not, Fiasco ends up as an indictment of, not only the Bush Administration, but the military itself for extremely poor judgment at the least and malfeasance at the most.

Ricks goes into some detail lining out to chain of events, naming the patrons of the war and their motives, along the way, which led to the war. He also describes the planning, or mis-planning if you wish, of the war, but the majority of the book centers on the immediate aftermath of the invasion, from April of 2003 through 2004. Ricks lays out the argument that during this period, Phase IV of the war (the aftermath) was so bungled that we were within an eyelash of turning victory into defeat. He also maintains that this mishandling was so endemic and pervasive that the outcome is still in doubt.

Summary

Ricks postulates that the Iraqi war was contrived by neo-conservatives led by Paul Wolfowitz, justified by handpicked intelligence, much of which had been discounted. He goes on to say the military planning was altered time and again by the overbearing Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfield, who at one time proposed an invasion force of ten thousand men.

Then after the successful invasion, despite a flawed plan, which totally by passed the ultimate enemy and the backbone of the future insurgency — the Fedayeen, our troops throughout the country stood by as witnesses to the greatest act of thievery in the history of the world, as looters stole Iraq. This was the result of having too few boots on the ground, a fact that haunts us (the military) to this day. A result of the widespread looting of Iraq, besides requiring billions to replace, was that it set a tone for lawlessness in Iraq. It also made our troops appear indecisive, which they were.

Ultimately, the biggest sin the military committed was a sin of omission. Purposely or not, they refused to recognize the character of the war they were in (with Rumsfield’s help) as an insurgency and act accordingly. The lessons of the insurgency we fought in Viet Nam seem to have been lost as a bad dream and the military insisted on fighting a brutal conventional war. This was a major error in strategy.

Last but not least, the tactics used by our military lost the backing and respect of the Iraqi people and fueled the fire of the insurgency, which the generals refused to fight as such.

Conclusion

As a newspaper reporter, Ricks’ writing takes on a news reporting style of writing — very compelling, very smooth and very easy to read. While the writer does perform an occasional analysis, the book seems to center around hundreds of quotation bites and the author’s attendant explanations and elaborations.

Of course, this means that there are many opinions mixed in with the reported facts and history. Still, I give these opinions credence for two reasons — the high quantity of similar views within the book and the fact that these views mirror conventional wisdom and other publications.

Being an opponent of the war, this book was a vindication, of sorts, for the deductions I had arrived at. The Bush Administration took us to war with a marginal war plan and no plan whatsoever for reconstruction, disengagement or exit. I find it incongruous that the Administration is constantly saying the Democrats had no plan for Iraq, when they, themselves, had no plan.

By the way, according to this book, Jay Garner the one time reconstruction czar, who was unceremoniously dumped after two weeks, originally voiced the one plan the Administration keeps harping on — “we’ll stand down when they stand up,” in an unapproved speech: a speech for which he was chastised, but from which their big plan evolved. The plan of course was poorly implemented and has yet to bear fruit.

The true irony of the war was that the approach the Administration took toward the war. The parsimonious use of troops, telling the generals to expect redeployment in a matter of months and trying to fight the war on the cheap, actually had the opposite effect by adding to the longevity of the war and running the cost into the hundreds of billions.

I give this book a five star rating.

November 18, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . attack, Baghdad, Cheney, George W. Bush, Iraq, Islam, liberators, lies, politics, President Bush, Rumsfeld, Saudi Arabia, Shiite, slam dunk, Sunni, Syria, Terrorism.

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