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Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

Average Rating 4.5
( 23 )
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  • Posted November 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The name says it all

    If one is to be honest, especially those in the military and the department of defence, we have to admit that we made mistakes in the beginning. Thomas E. Ricks, is an individual who has said things that many of us privately thought but never spoke up. There were a series of mistakes and miscalculations, from training and preparedness, to the realistic expectations of what would once we invaded and won. I'm usuually skeptical about topics like this and was looking for some bias or slant to support those against the war; but to my surprise it really spoke to more of the unspoken truth and say the things that needed to be said. I look forward to reading the follow up "The Gamble" about the surge written by Thomas E. Ricks as well.

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  • Posted September 20, 2009

    This book is good

    The book is mostly for learning purposes unless, like me, you find personal interest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2009

    FIASCO is anything but!

    a 'must read' if you are going to understand the 'behind the scenes' working of the minds & people - what they thought, how they behaved and why we are where we are today.

    An example: A very highly ranked women said: "I knew there were 500 ways to do it wrong. Who knew they would go do all 500 of them"
    A fascinating, spellbinding, hugely researched account. Democrats and Republicans
    absolutely should read this if they are going know anything besides 'the spin'..


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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    An essential guide to the early invasion of Iraq. This book should be right behind Sun Tzo's "The Art of War" on every military Officer's bookshelf.

    This is an excellent history of the early invasion of Iraq. It is not very speciffic and focuses on a long period of time instead of individual events. I think everyone in the military should read this book.

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  • Posted February 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Book

    As an Army veteran of the war in Iraq (2004-2005) I can say I was very impressed with this book, very accurate in it's description of the combat that took place and it is a scathing look at the incompetance and lack of planning by the Bush administration and the Pentagon, all Americans should read this book if they want a real version of what happened during the first part of the war, it will change a lot of minds and prove that Bush/Cheney/ Rumsfeld had no idea what they were getting into or even what they were doing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2006

    One of the best books yet on the war against Iraq

    This is one of the best books on the war against Iraq. Thomas Ricks, the Washington Post¿s senior Pentagon correspondent, argues that the invasion has been the worst US foreign policy decision ever. With 655,000 Iraqis killed, more than 2,810 US troops dead and more than 21,600 seriously wounded, the occupation of Iraq is a disaster. The 9/11 Commission concluded unanimously that there was no evidence that Iraq and Al Qa¿ida ever had `a collaborative operational relationship¿ and no evidence that Iraq had ever been involved in any attack on the USA. The USA¿s leaders presented their wishful thinking as fact - about Iraq¿s non-existent Al Qa¿ida links and about the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So the US¿s rulers should have had just one target ¿ those who carried out the attack. Instead, they attacked three - Al Qa¿ida, Afghanistan¿s Taliban, and Iraq. A study by Jeffrey Record, published by the War College¿s Strategic Studies Institute, said, ¿Of particular concern has been the conflation of al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein¿s Iraq as a single, undifferentiated terrorist threat. This was a strategic error of the first order because it ignored crucial differences between the two in character, threat level, and susceptibility to U.S. deterrence and military action. The result has been an unnecessary preventive war of choice against a deterred Iraq that has created a new front in the Middle East for Islamic terrorism and diverted attention and resources away from securing the American homeland against further assault by an undeterrable al Qaeda. The war against Iraq was not integral to the GWOT [Global War on Terrorism] but rather a detour from it.¿ Ricks also observes that the US¿s rulers understated the difficulty of remaking Iraq. Paul Wolfowitz, one of the war¿s architects, characteristically said in December 2002, ¿people are overly pessimistic about the aftermath.¿ He also said, ¿I don¿t see why it would take more troops to occupy the country than to take down the regime.¿ He claimed that the US force would need to be only 30,000 by August 2003, and that Iraq¿s oil would pay for occupying and rebuilding Iraq. In the real world, the USA now has more than 150,000 troops there and the war has cost the USA more than $300 billion. In a textbook example of how to create an insurgency, the US occupation authority destroyed Iraq¿s administrative structure, army, police and industries. Oil production is half pre-war levels. A member of the Coalition Provisional Authority described it as `pasting feathers together, hoping for a duck¿. A four-star general said that it was almost as if the USA was working `to create the maximum amount of chaos possible¿. The occupation forces¿ presence and actions feed the fires. The US and British states are using 60,000 mercenaries, who are unregulated and unaccountable. There are almost 21,000 British `private security guards¿ in Iraq, three times the number of British troops. The US state institutionalised abuse: its military intelligence ordered, ¿we want these individuals broken.¿ In the first 18 months of the occupation, 40,000 Iraqis suffered detention in US¿run prisons. There were 34,131 insurgent attacks in 2005, up from 26,496 in 2004. The war has exposed every part of the US ruling class¿s system as a failure ¿ the executive, the military establishment, the intelligence agencies, the media, Congress, NATO, `the special relationship¿. (Ricks mentions Blair only three times, each time as standing next to Bush.) The rulers¿ cheerleaders now lie that `we all got it wrong¿ no, the US and British ruling classes got it wrong the working classes of the world got it right, opposing the war from the start, by huge majorities.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2006

    Its like the best book ever

    Oh my Gosh. After reading the first few pages of this book I couldn't beleve that it was so emotional.. I cried like 10 times.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2006


    This was a well written book, however I always stuggle with the question,'why?' I think the book 'The Game of Life: it's almost over' by Linda Dipman, should be read along with it to help understand this question.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2006

    Peace Lost to Expediency?

    Thomas Ricks rightly states that the U.S. effort since 1991 should be characterized as a long war made up of four distinctive steps: 1) A short ground battle in 1991, 2) Twelve years of containment done largely from the air, 3) A second short ground battle in 2003, and 4) Another decade of containment ¿ this time on the ground, and inside Iraq (pp. 395-96, 433-39). To his credit, Ricks does not shy away from calling to task those who he deems responsible for a wide range of blunders made in the design and execution of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Unjustified optimism remains an enduring trait of the U.S. management of the Iraq war (pp. 246, 323, 360). Two of the first casualties of the Iraq war have been the irreparable damage to the credibility of some key players and a durable loss of both prestige and power of deterrence for the U.S. (pp. 90-96, 109, 128, 147, 167-72, 184-85, 212, 263, 268, 293-94, 304, 308-10, 325, 329, 341-48, 362, 385-86, 406-12, 430-33). Ricks uses mostly well-identified sources to back up his argumentation. Ricks reminds his audience that in the run-up to war, administration officials tended to assume the worst-case scenario for WMDs, disregarding contrary evidence that Saddam Hussein was largely contained in his cage. Contemporarily, the same administration officials made rosy assumptions about the welcome the U.S. military would get from grateful Iraqis, about the quick establishment of a new Iraqi government, and about the swift return of most U.S. troops to their home bases (pp. 58-59). Many ordinary Iraqis, especially in the South, did not forget how the U.S-led coalition ended the fighting prematurely and clumsily at their expense after expelling the Iraqi army from Kuwait in 1991 (pp. 5-6). Furthermore, Ricks does not spare either Congress or the Media for going AWOL during both the run-up to war and the ensuing occupation of Iraq (pp. 28, 35, 61¿ 65, 85-90, 380-88). The U.S. quickly squandered the blitzkrieg victory that it achieved in the spring of 2003. Ricks clearly enumerates the different factors that have contributed to that sad outcome: 1) Casual dismissing of the looting after the fall of Baghdad, which was made possible by insufficient manpower (pp. 135-36, 148, 150, 178, 182-83) 2) The quick turnover of staff with critical expertise to deal with the tribal structure of Iraqi society (pp. 157, 323) 3) The initial focus on mostly ghost WMDs, which allowed the first insurgents to plunder existing weapon dumps at will (pp. 146, 168, 191) 4) The lack of adequate troops and illegal guidelines to manage the overflow of detainees that led to the Abu Ghraib scandal, the most well-known among existing Iraqi scandals (pp. 147, 175, 197-200, 238-40, 258-61, 270-97, 378-80) 5) The excessive de-Baathification within Iraqi ministries, which fuelled the Sunni insurgency (pp. 158-61, 180) 6) The dissolution of the Iraqi army and national police force, for which the Sunni insurgency was also grateful (pp. 161-66, 180, 191) 7) An over-focus on foreign fighters, which have represented a small percentage of the insurgency (p. 194) 8) The postponement in the organization of elections and the formation of a sovereign Iraqi government with an eye on writing a constitution (pp. 165, 254-55, 413) 9) Hasty transition of Iraq to a free market economy, which alienated further the middle class, which was already on the receiving end of de-Baathification (pp. 165, 181) 10) The existence of largely unrestrained powerful militias such as the Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army (pp. 244, 336-38, 353, 358, 395, 428) 11) The strategic confusion about the asymmetric warfare that the U.S. was compelled to wage (pp. 138-44, 152-54, 164, 179-85, 192-95, 203-13, 222-69, 301-02, 313-24, 371, 392-94, 405, 414-24) The initial heavy-handed approach of most of the U.S. military, the lack of unity of command, open borders, and the enduring isolation of most U.S. troops in their

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2006

    Fiasco will be a #1 Bestseller

    This book is truly a testament to the author's incredible knowledge and ability to express it with candor and without pulling any punches. I couldn't put it down. It only makes one's blood boil to know that we let ourselves get into this by not being more diligent after 9/11. The media and the loyal opposition fell down and let a group of incompetents get us into a poorly managed war of choice that prophetically is creating the horror of Middle Eastern crises. We were supposed to be safe from terrorism and this book shows how we actually created it on another front and will find it difficult to put the genie back in the bottle now that it is out. The incredible detail and factual account of how so many experts warned the Administration in advance and how it ignored anyone who disagreed shows that the President was not resolute and decisive. He was stubborn and misguided by a group of neocons who wanted this war for so long that they would use any excuse to execute it. 9/11 was convenient! The war on terror was neglected during this period and Iraq has become the central breeding ground for terrorists.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

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