Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

A Vulcan's Tale: How the Bush Administration Mismanaged the Reconstruction of Afghanistan

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

A Vulcan's Tale: How the Bush Administration Mismanaged the Reconstruction of Afghanistan

Article excerpt

A Vulcan's Tale: How the Bush Administration Mismanaged the Reconstruction of Afghanistan. By Dov S. Zakheim. Washington, D. C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2011. 335pp. $32.95.

The oft-repeated maxim attributed to Gustave Flaubert, "God is in the details," has a variant: "Governing is in the details," as Zakheim's memoir, a firsthand postmortem of the Bush administration's Afghanistan and Iraq policies, makes clear. The volume provides an insider's view not only on strategy but also on an underappreciated aspect of the history - the "practicalities of implementation."

Zakheim was one of the first advisors in 1998 to join the Bush campaign's foreign policy team, dubbed by Condoleezza Rice, the "Vulcans." He joined other, better-known names including Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, to help brief Bush on international issues and then moved on to the Department of Defense after the election.

The author demonstrates that problems with postwar reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq resulted from factors incidental to the Bush administration's initial aversion to "nation-building." He stresses another crucial reason for the mismanaged reconstruction initiatives: mid-level bureaucratic disputes over appropriations between Congress, the Defense Department, and the Office of Management and Budget.

In his capacities as the Pentagon's comptroller, chief financial officer, and coordinator for Afghan civilian reconstruction, Zakheim negotiated with coalition partners to raise and disburse funds for the Afghanistan and Iraq missions. Describing these negotiations, Zakheim provides insights into the unfortunate realities of dealing with authoritarian Middle Eastern regimes. Notwithstanding the ostensible confluence of interest between these states and Washington, corruption, haggling, secrecy, double-talk, and false promises were a fact of life. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.