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Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in…

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

by Thomas E. Ricks

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1,788306,535 (4.14)55
"Drawing on the exclusive cooperation of an extraordinary number of American military personnel, including more than one hundred senior officers, and access to more than thirty thousand pages of official documents, many of them never before made public, Thomas E. Ricks has written the definitive account of the American military's tragic experience in Iraq."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
I was surprised to find this book quite readable, even though it had a lot of military jargon that I wasn't familiar with. I guess what kept coming up is how totally inept this war has been from the start and never gets better. Fiasco is the appropriate name- but I did keep waiting to see what good or right things the military did and they just keep goofing things up. The minute one battalion would get it right (i.e.: Treating the Iraqi's as friends, not foe) the troops would end their tour and a new group would start. The new battalion would have a bad attitude towards the Iraqis. ( )
1 vote camplakejewel | Sep 26, 2017 |
Pretty scathing assessment of the Bush administration's unpreparedness for what they had bitten off. ( )
  tsgood | Jul 14, 2016 |
  OberlinSWAP | Aug 1, 2015 |
Sobering and impressive analysis of the unmitigated disaster of foreign policy and warmongering that is Iraq. Now that the damage is starting to be cleaned up, I am cautiously optimistic, but there is still too much to be done here. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
The Washington Post's Thomas Ricks has written a dense, readable and highly-detailed account of the first 3 years of the American war in Iraq as seen and experienced from within the US military. It is an outstanding account in many ways and a number of other reviewers have done a good job in explaining many of its good qualities. Ricks has obviously had access to many, many officers who were involved in the invasion and subsequent occupation and he seems to have been provided and extraordinary amount of access, including memos, presentations, papers, emails, communications and other internal documents.

However one would hesitate in calling it the definitive account of this period of the war, though it is undoubtedly one of the most important. Firstly, as is immediately noticeable when scanning the dramatis personae provided at the front of the book, there are virtually no Iraqis here, which is unfortunate in a book to do with Iraq. In fact the only Iraqi who makes an appearance is Ahmed Chalabi and he comes across as some kind of evil Machivellian villain manipulating things behind the scenes, blamed by various Coalition Provisional Authority officials for all sorts of bad decisions made by the Bush administration and Bremer in Iraq. He's also blamed for faulty intelligence and the shoddy reporting by the New York Times' Judith Miller. Now, there's no doubt that Chalabi played a major role in feeding people in the administration and in the world of journalism the kinds of stories they wanted to hear in order to further his own agenda. However one suspects there's a great deal of buck-shifting going on here.

Another issue to keep in mind is that Ricks' book seems heavily influenced by the milieu in which it was written. It is an account of how the military operated in the years 2002 to 2006 but it is also a polemic. Ricks is arguing for the adoption of Counter Insurgency strategy (or COIN) by the military in Iraq if it wants to have a hope of success. Now, he makes a very compelling argument, but as a result of this agenda, sometimes it feels as if Ricks is focused on addressing officers within the army. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can sometimes feel as if the narrative is kept within a box. Assumptions and attitudes are only questioned so far. So, for example, he looks at the containment vs. elimination debate within the military on the question of how to deal with Saddam Hussein but does not really examine the history of the US-Saddam relationship or question the assumption that he had to be dealt with in one of these two ways.

Now I'm not necessarily saying this is a bad thing. However, it does mean that this is a book with a certain focus, and that is the operations of the U.S. military in the Iraq War, from planning to execution, and the successes and failures thereof. It is in its own way an excellent book and one I would certainly recommend to anyone who wants to understand what the US military encountered and how it adapted during the first few years of the Iraq war. ( )
3 vote iftyzaidi | Jan 22, 2012 |
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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