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State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III by…

State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III (original 2007; edition 2006)

by Bob Woodward

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1,575226,827 (3.8)28
Title:State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III
Authors:Bob Woodward
Info:Simon & Schuster (2006), Hardcover, 576 pages
Collections:Your library

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State of Denial by Bob Woodward (2007)


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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
bush and rumsfeld were (even) worse than you imagined ( )
  burningdervish | Nov 29, 2016 |
Woodward's third book on President Bush II. The narrative begins from the first days George W. voiced his inclination to run -- even though no other candidate in history had less actual service or experience. The book runs through the series of "wars" -- documenting the empty suit appointments and war profiteering -- and the political struggles on the home front. A fair and full account of the road Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the GOP walked, while forcing America into a deep hole. How this administration converted world alliances and good wishes into hostilities and shame.

Bush: "I know that some of my decisions have led to terrible loss..." [435]

Bush and Cheney "declined to be interviewed for this book", but material was drawn from public and past interviews. Woodward interviewed Bush's national security team, their deputies and key players in the administration responsible for the military, diplomacy, and intelligence on the Iraq War. [493]

The details damn the Bush administration but leave it to citizens to arrive at our own conclusions. The stark incompetence is damning. The relentless lying to the American people, and to the Iraqis and the world, is unforgiveable.

"With all Bush's upbeat talk and optimism, he had not told the American public the truth about what Iraq had become." [491] ( )
1 vote keylawk | Sep 4, 2013 |
State of Denial is the third in a series of books by reporter Bob Woodward about President George W. Bush and his handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. I have not read the others and did not have any particular interest in doing so. State of Denial focuses on the period that led up to Iraq until just before the surge. That's what I wanted to know more about and Woodward certainly delivers.

The book follows the distinct narrative style Woodward is known for. There's a lot of information packed in, but the clearest star of the story is Donald Rumsfeld. The book certainly doesn't portray him in a positive light. Unimaginative, arrogant, and fussy are the best words to describe this portrait of the former Secretary of Defense. Rumsfeld enters Washington with a plan to streamline the military without their cooperation. I say without not because they refused, but because Rumsfeld did everything he could to ensure they would not be onboard. He seemed to bully everyone, even those that agreed with him. He micromanaged, yet seemed paralyzed by important decisions. These are the insights State of Denial provides, and while Rumsfeld comes out the worst, all the major players are addressed in full.

The bigger question is whether or not any of it is true. Woodward, true to his history, does not cite sources. He relies on extensive interviews with key players. Woodward claims he does not accept anything as true without multiple source confirmation. He has a reputation that backs him up. But nevertheless, given the nature of this book, there are people who will disbelieve its contents and Woodward doesn't give them a compelling reason not to.

I believe it is mostly accurate however. And for this reason, I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking to see the decision making that led to the Iraq War and its mishandling. The hard truth seems to be mistakes were less about evil intentions and more about apathy and incompetence at the highest levels. ( )
  Radaghast | Apr 4, 2012 |
This was the third of four books journalist Bob Woodward wrote about the Bush Presidency and its conduct of the War on Terror and by this time the luster had well and truly worn off. The picture that emerges is an interesting one. The President actually does not come off as badly as one might imagine. He has a hands-off approach in which he delegates a great deal to his team. He sees his role as that of setting broad goals and leadership as providing moral support and resolve. The problem seems to be that when the people around him aren’t functioning well, he seems to lack the insight and incisiveness to understand where things are going wrong and who is responsible.

The major problems seem to lie in the Pentagon. Donald Rumsfeld (Secretary of Defense) comes across as petty, petulant and more interested in bureaucratic territory-marking and trying to prove a point to his subordinates in uniform. Douglas Feith (Undersecretary of Defense for Policy) , who was ostensibly responsible for Post-war planning in Iraq appears to be an utterly incompetent toady. Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Secretary of Defense) seems to be an ideologically-driven academic with a naïve faith in impractical socio-political theoretical frameworks which never really quite matched the reality of what he thought they described. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard B. Myers seems to have been a ‘yes man’, deliberately picked by Rumsfeld because of his submissive demeanor, and who is faulted for not pushing the warnings, questions and requests of his uniformed subordinates further up the chain of command more assertively. Tommy Franks' behaviour is frankly bizarre. After leading the army to Baghdad and declaring victory, he flies off to vacation and then retirement with narry a care about the mess he had left behind. Finally there is Paul Bremer, who was picked to replace Jay Garner as the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority seems to have been responsible for several dreadful decisions such as the De-Baatification programme, the disbanding of the Iraqi army, and the shutting down of state-run industries, which helped to push a chaotic and disorderly Iraq into open revolt against the American occupation.

A couple of things that come across strongly which still surprise is that firstly the repeated claims by members of the government that no one could have foreseen the problems that would be encountered during the occupation was patently false. Plenty of people foresaw the problems and spoke out about them, but they were mostly sidelined or ignored. Secondly its frankly amazing how once things were very obviously going wrong, how unwilling or unable people were to try and deal with the problems. It was as if by refusing to acknowledge that things were not going well they thought it would simply go away. It was extraordinary behavior by people who had pushed hard for war and sent thousands of young men and women into harm’s way and now wanted nothing to do with the mess that they had created.

Bob Woodward's account if based on numerous interviews with White House, Pentagon and State Department insiders, as well as others. Certainly people will try to spin events to make themselves look better and their bureaucratic opponents worse, but he seems to have done a fairly good job of noting different interpretations of events and conversations, where they occur. In his own words, Rumsfeld comes across as unhelpful, prickly and obfuscative, which seems pretty much in keeping with his character as portrayed. Its worth keeping in mind that Bush and Cheney refused to be interviewed for this book (unlike for the first two books about the presidency by Woodward).

All in all its an interesting account, though of course these kinds of books can never be called completely comprehensive when they are written so close to the events they are describing. Still, its an insightful look into what was happening at the top of the U.S. government in the period 2002 to 2006 with regards to the Iraq War. ( )
1 vote iftyzaidi | Jan 22, 2012 |
Bob Woodward, the legendary Washington Post reporter who helped to break open the Watergate story decades ago, offers his third (of four) glimpses into the Bush administration in "State of Denial," which focuses on the period between mid-2004 and the end of 2005. Woodward taps into his range of sources throughout Washington, evidently including several high placed Pentagon people, and a number of on-the-record interviews with several of the principle people to construct this look at the Iraq war.

As usual, Woodward uncovers the details of many behind the scenes conversations and attitudes. The power struggles between the State Department and the Defense Department, hinted at in other reports and books, take center stage here. Unlike most of Woodward's other books, though, "State of Denial" has a clear villain, long-embattled Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld (whose resignation was accepted in the months after this book was published). Rumsfeld is portrayed as an aging power-seeker who evidently does not play very well with others, but one who cannot seem to accept the responsibility for the authority he seeks (and Woodward believes, he is tacitly granted by the president with regards to Iraq).

This is not to suggest that others look particularly good in the book. As might be expected of reporting that chronicles a period in the war in which all the signs pointed towards failure, there's a lot of finger-pointing. The 'state of denial' of the title seems two-fold -- there is the obvious public sugar-coating about how the war in Iraq is going by virtually everyone in power that Woodward finds was prevalent even behind closed doors. But the 'state of denial' also seems to describe the key military and political players' refusal to accept ultimate responsibility for much of what was happening and would happen in Iraq, which led to a giant effort with little accountability for any of those leaders.

Without accountability, little forward progress could be made towards improving security or infrastructure in Iraq. For months at a time, including during this period when insurgent attacks were skyrocketing in frequency and potency, there was little change in the American strategic effort. (In hindsight, Woodward is describing a vacuum into which a leader with a solid vision and the means to enact it might be successful, which may be what happened under Gen. David Petreus' leadership and the military surge in Iraq after the period Woodward chronicles in this book.)

More than some of his other books, Woodward is an active narrator and interviewer in these pages, asking questions that he believes were not seriously considered by top officials. At times, he apparently believes it was his role as interrogator to push those he was interviewing to see alternative possibilities, rather than simply eliciting their view of events. This self-portrayal seems to be Woodward's guiding assessment of the situation, that the leadership was out of touch with reality, needing to be forcefully guided toward a more accurate view of the war. As such, the book can seem partisan at times, though I don't believe it is meant to be.

Opponents of the war will find much that confirms their suspicions. Proponents may be frustrated by the performance of certain key players. Regardless, the book is a must-read first look at the George W. Bush administration's darkest time in Iraq, a fly-on-the-wall account of meetings where decisions seem to be as often avoided as made and of personalities that seem at odds with the necessities of the times. ( )
  ALincolnNut | Apr 8, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
In this volume, his third on the Bush presidency, America's preeminent print reporter tells in numbing detail how, in his view, the Bush administration mismanaged the aftermath of the Iraq war, and then avoided admitting that fact, both to the public and even to itself.
. . . the angriest book Woodward has written since his first, All the President's Men . Like that masterpiece, State of Denial feels all the more outraged for its measured, nonpartisan tones and relentless reporting. It is nothing less than a watershed.
In Bob Woodward's highly anticipated new book, ''State of Denial,'' President Bush emerges as a passive, impatient, sophomoric and intellectually incurious leader, presiding over a grossly dysfunctional war cabinet and given to an almost religious certainty that makes him disinclined to rethink or re-evaluate decisions he has made about the war.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743272234, Hardcover)

"Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year.'' This was the secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006. The forecast of a more violent 2007 in Iraq contradicted the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush, including one, two days earlier, when he said we were at a ''turning point" that history would mark as the time "the forces of terror began their long retreat." State of Denial examines how the Bush administration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, to Congress, and often to themselves. Two days after the May report, the Pentagon told Congress, in a report required by law, that the "appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane in early 2007." In this detailed inside story of a war-torn White House, Bob Woodward reveals how White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, with the indirect support of other high officials, tried for 18 months to get Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld replaced. The president and Vice President Cheney refused. At the beginning of Bush's second term, Stephen Hadley, who replaced Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser, gave the administration a 'D minus' on implementing its policies. A secret report to the new Secretary of State Rice from her counselor stated that, nearly two years after the invasion, Iraq was a "failed state." The book reveals that at the urging of Cheney and Rumsfeld, the most frequent outside visitor and Iraq adviser to President Bush is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who, haunted still by the loss in Vietnam, emerges as a hidden and potent voice. Woodward reveals that the secretary of defense himself believes that the system of coordination among departments and agencies is broken, and in a secret May 1, 2006 memo Rumsfeld stated, that "the current system of government makes competence next to impossible." State of Denial answers the core questions: What happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush make decisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And is there an achievable plan for victory?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:35 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006 forecasted a more violent 2007 in Iraq, contradicting the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush. This book examines how the Bush administration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, to Congress, and often to themselves. In this detailed inside story of a war-torn White House, Woodward answers the core questions: What happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush make decisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And is there an achievable plan for victory?--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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