Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

By Potter, Robert A. | Air & Space Power Journal, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq


Potter, Robert A., Air & Space Power Journal


Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks. Penguin Group ( http://www.penguinputnam.com), 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, 2006, 416 pages, $27.95 (hardcover).

Thomas E. Ricks-senior Pentagon correspondent for the Washington Post, author, and Pulitzer prize winner-dedicates his most recent work, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, to "the war dead." This simple but powerful recognition sets the tone for the rest of the book. In Fiasco, Ricks has produced an extremely well researched, well written, and, at times, painfully detailed chronicle of the political posturing, military planning, and information campaigning that set the stage for America's engagement in Operation Iraqi Freedom. His comprehensive writing presents the reader with a fully developed portrayal of the lightning pace of phase one, the segue into phase two, and the onset of prolonged phase-three operations that eventually morphed into the protracted phase-four undertaking in which the nation remains engaged after the cessation of principal combat. The author also provides historical context for Iraqi Freedom by concisely summarizing the political and military environment as it transitioned from the first Gulf War in 1991 to deliberations preceding the nationalsecurity decisions in 2002 and 2003 to displace Saddam Hussein's regime. He offers in-depth, though at times pointedly opinionated, explanations regarding the reasons and arguments for the national-security shift away from a policy of containment toward a policy of preemption as the precursor to the US decision to displace Hussein. His efforts are instructive and thought provoking.

The book's title and the opening salvos hurled in the first several pages leave no doubt that Ricks views the American-led invasion of Iraq as reckless and devoid of sufficient military planning and strategic forethought regarding an extended occupation of the country. He explains that "this book's subtitle terms the U.S. effort in Iraq an adventure in the critical sense of adventurism-that is, with the view that the U.S.-led invasion was launched recklessly, with a flawed plan for war and a worse approach to occupation" (p. 3).

No one is spared Ricks's biting comments that indict our most senior civilian political, diplomatic, defense, and intelligence leaders as well as some major uniformed players, blaming them for the current situation in Iraq. …

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