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Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2008

    FIASCO - An Outsider's View

    Thomas Ricks writes an excellent book taking a braod view and very neatly breaking down the salient issues of the Iraq War. The book takes a top-down approach. Those looking for low level perspective won't find it in this book although Ricks does include some insights from troops-in-the-ranks level. His view is decidedly liberal in that he advocates for leaving Iraq and painting the war as a mistake. Ricks assails the Bush Administration policy very well. However, this is only part of the story and does not delve into what the Army and Marine Corps senior commands in Iraq are doing to address the shortcomings of the Rumsfeld Department of Defense policies. This is a useful book to gather information. It's gretest flaw is that it's long on criticism and very short on offering better solutions. Any reader serious about studying the Iraq War needs to give this book a read. The book has great reasearch value.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2007

    Very good book

    For those that follow the news and know a little military history, the general thrust of this book is nothing new. But the level of detail is very good and I enjoyed how the author seems to have done a very thorough job of research. It appears the US military is finally starting to realize the type of war we are fighting in Iraq (an insurgency coupled with a civil war), but it really may be too late to make a difference. Some mistakes you can't just make good. It is a very good book through, well written and very detailed. While obviously with a title like Fiasco is dwells a lot of the negative, but the author also writes about some of the things that have worked. The mess in Iraq was not a foregone conclusion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2007

    FIASCO is the best word to describe America in Iraq

    I was in Iraq as a contractor in 2004-2005. I went there believing we would rebuild Iraq and be a force for good in the world. It was a bitter disappoint to see the self inflicted mess in Iraq unfold. A part of me died there. But the book title, 'FIASCO - The American Military Adventure in Iraq', is not descriptive of what I saw there. The military was not the problem. The root cause of the FIASCO was the dishonesty, corruption and incompetence of President Bush combined with his crass cronyism. I thought the book would be more to the point if that reality was told with more force and outrage. Fiasco - the George W. Bush legacy, is the only way to describe Iraq.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2007

    A reviewer

    A solid, thorough overview of the lead-up to the insurgency and the lack of strategy/unity of command that would have narrowed its scope. Detailed reporting, so you can tell that this was written by a journalist. On the down side, I found some sections a bit redundant and just about went crazy with the hundreds of different names! Overall strongly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2006

    Good but Incomplete

    This is a nice presentation on the war in Iraq. However, the author should have discussed more about other factors that led to the war such as what are discussed in 'The New Iraqi Dinar Investment Guide' which gives great detail on the oil shortage and insurgency.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2006

    A Surprising Midadventure Threatens to Ignite the World's Oil Fields for Decades

    Surely, you remember all of those Weapons of Mass Destruction that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Powell, Secretary Rumsfeld, and The New York Times assured us were being hidden in Iraq. If you have a short memory about what we were told, Fiasco will remind you what came out of those horses' mouths in 2002 and 2003. If you think back even further, you may also recall an attack on the United States in New York and Washington D.C. that led to about 3,000 deaths caused by an outfit called al-Qaeda headed by a fellow named Osama bin Laden. We haven't found that fellow yet, and we've invaded at least two countries to locate him. He doesn't seem to be in Iraq, either. Fiasco points out that there never was an Iraqi connection to that group of terrorists, but in the aftermath of our invasion Iraq has become the headquarters and training ground for the most active and effective terrorists in the world. Maybe we'll eventually lure bin Laden there. So why read this book? Well, Mr. Ricks does a superb job of tracking down all of the planning, training and preparation for the post-invasion period that did not occur. As a result, it seems like the United States made virtually every major mistake possible in turning a liberation into a heavy-handed, insensitive occupation that turned the majority of the Iraqi people into opponents of the United States from being favorably disposed. As early as five months after Saddam Hussein was captured, 55% of Iraqis felt that it was more dangerous having American troops in Iraq than to have them all leave immediately. If you are like me, you'll be disgusted, appalled and ashamed at the travesty of how the United States mismanaged the reconstruction of Iraq. Who is at fault? Well, it's hard to find people who aren't at fault. Feel free to list the usual Republican and Pentagon leaders, but add those in Congress who backed off from providing civilian oversight. Can you imagine that serious counter-insurgency planning only began in August 2004? And we lost ground in 2005 on that front. So where are we now? Apparently, we're worse off than if we had stayed home in 2003. The book ends with several scenarios of what might happen next, all of which are even more unpleasant than the reality we have today. Tens of thousands more will die, including thousands of Americans. Power will shift into less friendly hands. More terrorists will be trained. Our supply of oil will be less secure. Gasoline will hit $9.00 a gallon in one scenario. The book also upholds the honor of the ordinary soldiers and Marines who have done tough duty, far beyond what could have been expected of them . . . without the proper training, support, leadership resources. My sense from this book is that a sequel will be written ten years from now called Quagmire. Why did I grade the book down? Despite doing a fine job of tracking down the untold parts of the story, I found that Mr. Ricks loves to editorialize a little too much before he proves his point. Here's an example in the first sentence of the book: 'President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003 ultimately may come to be seen as one of the most profligate actions in the history of American foreign policy.' So what are the lessons for us as citizens? It looks like we should be sure that no one (of either political party) ever gets enough power to head off on such ego trips again. Gridlock looks pretty good as our primary option for getting the government back under control.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2006

    outstanding.. must reading for anyone who wants to be able to discuss the iraq war intelligently

    Coming from an anti-war perspective, i thought the book would be 'preaching to the choir'.. However, it is so much more than that. Ricks' access to so many senior military people and his ability to organize and explain so much of the military/civilian dynamic make the book an absolute must read for anyone who wants to be able to analyze and discuss the war in Iraq. It is not at all an anti-war screed, but an intelligent, well sourced, logical analysis of the lead up to the war and the awful aftermath. In a few years, it will be regarded as the first book which blew the lid off the incompetence and insanity of our nation's leaders in 2002 and 2003. It is outrageous and inexcusable that the American people were taken down the primrose path and the march to war. It is criminal that the intelligence was skewed and warped and twisted to support a policy. It is outrageous that the Administration was hellbent on launching a war with virtually no evidence and refused to heed warnings regarding the aftermath of an obvious victory over Hussein. The information leads one to conclude that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell,Franks, Feith, Perle, Armitage, Wolfowitz and the entire gang should be indicted, some of them for advancing and promoting the war and others for allowing themselves to be used and abused. Again, i urge every single american who loves this country to read Fiasco. It will be a seminal study on the issue of the war..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2006

    Good, But Not Complete

    Ricks does a credible job explaining the Iraqi war and the stupidity that has led to its failures. No one with any sense of perspective can admire a war that violates international law in a hundred different ways: from its beginning premises, its lack of legitimacy, its treatment of prisoners and its general dysfunctional prosecution. Still, one has to admire the dedication of the American soldier in facing a Sisyphusan task. I felt that while Ricks pounded away at the the theme that the purpose of the war is confused, he failed to address the international politics attached to the war. He did not address the balances of power that existed prior to the war --- between Saddam and the Russians, for example, which related to old debts left from the Iraq-Iran war. He did not address the reasons that some 'phony' coalition candidates either participated or refused to participate. Germany and Japan, for example, have legal limits on their use of force. Ricks did not deal in enough detail with the containment policies: He neglected to address the 11th hour efforts (apparentely successful) of a number of countries to strip Saddam of his control over his borders in order to insure anti-WMD compliance. With regard to the military itself, Ricks confuses the reader with the history of top-down and bottom-up approaches. For example, he correctly decries the lack of unified purpose and strategy, but he also points out successful atomized field experiments that run counter to any established purpose or strategy. One must conclude that if the leadership would only listen to the field commanders, it would have a successful policy. However, as Ricks points out, success often has given way to failure as the 'soft' experiments in a sector ended with a particular deployment. Ricks emphasizes that overarching leadership has failed. Yet at the end of the book, still without a centralized purpose, Ricks praises the changes certain Generals have been advancing. These are 'lessons learned' --- but where are they really learned and applied? Ricks does not give Rumsfeld adequate credit for the 'technical efficiency' point of view. While I think personally that Rumsfeld deserves a huge portion of the blame for the war and the international image of arrogance of the US, I also believe that his argument for a stripped down military that relies on precision rather than blunt force, has some merit. At least Ricks should have aired some of the debate. None of us who lived through Vietnam can approve of military budgets that expand exponentially simply because the military will not examine its own efficiencies. As taxpayers, who wants to spend another $200 billion uselessly. Nevertheless, Ricks makes a good argument that a lack of troops and forthought about resources encouraged the insurgency in Iraq. Why didn't the US expect that Saddam would invoke a follow-on guerilla war? I did not like Rick's repeated use of jargon: 'hearts and minds,' 'center of gravity,' 'metrics' 'lesssons learned' etc. While this may explain in a general sense the meaning of certain strategies, it also serves to confuse. What business does a 19 year old soldier without a college education and without exposure to the world have in converting the 'hearts and minds' of an Islamic culture to American hamburgers and spin deomocracy? Unless the military intends to function in the dual role of warmaker and peacemaker (even with appropriate training), we can't expect the Iraqis to take our avuncular efforts seriously. And with regard to the 'center of gravity' of a situation --- what does this phrase mean? Does it mean that a field commander must determine the general thrust of a issue --- whether military or civilian? Does it imply an understanding of more than just what is visible at the moment? Ricks does a good job in starting the dialogue of this disastrous war. His work isn't perfect or great --- but it is brave. Others must help Ricks finish h

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2006


    I encourage everyone to read this book abut the debacle in Iraq. It is not just another 'dry' historical account from a 'talking head', but an emotionally compelling account that will leave many readers both shocked and surprised. It is to non-fiction what 'The Black H' is to fiction.

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