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

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

by Dov S. Zakheim
 

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A firsthand account of how the Bush administration mismanaged its Afghan campaign, A Vulcan's Tale shines new and important light on the events and people behind the headlines in the immediate years following the September 11 attacks.

The "Vulcans," so named by Condoleezza Rice, were eight foreign policy experts who advised George W. Bush during his

Overview

A firsthand account of how the Bush administration mismanaged its Afghan campaign, A Vulcan's Tale shines new and important light on the events and people behind the headlines in the immediate years following the September 11 attacks.

The "Vulcans," so named by Condoleezza Rice, were eight foreign policy experts who advised George W. Bush during his 2000 presidential campaign. After Bush assumed the presidency, the Vulcans helped shape the administration's foreign policy following 9/11, including the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. All were veterans of past administrations, having served under either Ronald Reagan or George H. W. Bush, and they included among their ranks Dov Zakheim. Made comptroller and chief financial officer for the Department of Defense in 2001, Zakheim was also named the DoD's coordinator for Afghan civilian reconstruction in 2002.

In A Vulcan's Tale, Zakheim draws on his own participation and intimate knowledge to analyze how the United States missed critical opportunities while it struggled to manage two wars, particularly the seemingly endless endeavor in Afghanistan. In his view, the Bush administration's disappointing results in Afghanistan were partly attributable to the enormity of the challenges, certainly. But flawed leadership and deficiencies of management, understanding, and forethought all played their parts as well.

The power of the purse proved to be especially damaging. The Office of Management and Budget was slow to fund Defense's efforts at the outset of the Afghan conflict and then inadequately funded the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, casting the die for several additional years of conflict. The invasion of Iraq siphoned off critical resources for Afghanistan, thereby further complicating that country's reconstruction.

Even with public policy of the highest order, the devil still lurked in the details, as the DoD's "money man" was soon to discover while he struggled to fund and manage the reconstruction of civilian Afghanistan. A Vulcan's Tale is an authoritative, candid but fair account of how a wise and admirable goal can be waylaid by insufficient funding and ineffective coordination, with the result of faulty—or, at best, incomplete—implementation.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Dov Zakheim's unerringly honest and well-written book does two critical things. It gives us the best and closest look into how the Bush team operated in Afghanistan. It also gives us the best brief ever of how even the best policy succeeds or fails in the details, in the implementation."—Leslie H. Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations and New York Times columnist, former assistant secretary of state for politico-military affairs

" A Vulcan's Tale is a lively and absorbing read. Dov Zakheim has spent decades working closely with the men and women who made U.S. foreign policy under George W. Bush. His tale of why the reconstruction of Afghanistan fell so short has the impact and credibility that only an insider's account can. But well beyond Afghanistan, this is a book for anyone who seeks to understand why our policy reach so often exceeds our grasp."—Anne-Marie Slaughter, Princeton University, former director of policy planning at the U.S. Department of State

"Dov Zakheim is someone I have known and admired for many years. Make no mistake, this is a fascinating tale told by someone who not only is good at recounting a story that will be debated for many years to come, but also because he is honest to a fault. Zakheim takes the reader through the many twists and turns in the development of national policy that cost the United States dearly in terms of our most precious resources."—General James L. Jones, US MC (ret.), former national security adviser, former commander European Command, former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps

"Zakheim has produced a must-read for policymakers and students of statecraft alike. In readable prose, he provides a reflective insider's account and analysis of the cost of lack of alignment between policy and implementation during the Bush administration. He convincingly argues that Afghanistan's tragedy was avoidable and that the inherited processes and structures of decisionmaking in Washington must change if the use of instruments of U.S. power is going to lead to productive outcomes for the world and the American public."—Ashraf Ghani, chairman, Afghan Transition Coordination Commission and former minister of finance, Afghanistan

" A Vulcan's Tale by Dov Zakheim is a great contribution to the memoirs emerging from the war on terrorism. Zakheim had two full-time jobs: He was the Pentagon's comptroller and its reconstruction coordinator. The reader will learn about the bureaucratic politics of financial management, the perils of nation-building, and the fascinating world of international fundraising. An outstanding tale, frankly told."—Joseph J. Collins, professor of national security strategy, National War College, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations

"This vivid and sobering account of intervention and nation-building experiences should be compulsory reading for policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic."—Ana Palacio, former foreign affairs minister of Spain, former senior vice president and general counsel of the World Bank Group

"Zakheim traces the current travails in Afghanistan to a failure to convert the military successes of late 2001 into political gains that would aid the larger goal of nation building. He also conveys the daily frustrations of trying to make the U.S. policymaking system work sensibly.... A measured portrayal of the Bush administration's failings and of the personal clashes behind the debates over policy."—Foreign Affairs

"Although there are several prior works by Bush administration officials, Zakheim's discussion is powerful and unique. Recommended. Upperdivision undergraduate, graduate, and research collections."—Choice

"Important and informative.... [The book] provides valuable insight not only regarding the wars of the post-9/11 era but also about the activities of the U.S. government in general."—National Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815721260
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
06/01/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
335
File size:
945 KB

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Dov Zakheim's unerringly honest and well-written book does two critical things. It gives us the best and closest look into how the Bush team operated in Afghanistan. It also gives us the best brief ever of how even the best policy succeeds or fails in the details, in the implementation." —Leslie H. Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations and New York Times columnist, former assistant secretary of state for politico-military affairs

" A Vulcan's Tale is a lively and absorbing read. Dov Zakheim has spent decades working closely with the men and women who made U.S. foreign policy under George W. Bush. His tale of why the reconstruction of Afghanistan fell so short has the impact and credibility that only an insider's account can. But well beyond Afghanistan, this is a book for anyone who seeks to understand why our policy reach so often exceeds our grasp." —Anne-Marie Slaughter, Princeton University, former director of policy planning at the U.S. Department of State

"Dov Zakheim is someone I have known and admired for many years. Make no mistake, this is a fascinating tale told by someone who not only is good at recounting a story that will be debated for many years to come, but also because he is honest to a fault. Zakheim takes the reader through the many twists and turns in the development of national policy that cost the United States dearly in terms of our most precious resources." —General James L. Jones, US MC (ret.), former national security adviser, former commander European Command, former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps

"Zakheim has produced a must-read for policymakers and students of statecraft alike. In readable prose, he provides a reflective insider's account and analysis of the cost of lack of alignment between policy and implementation during the Bush administration. He convincingly argues that Afghanistan's tragedy was avoidable and that the inherited processes and structures of decisionmaking in Washington must change if the use of instruments of U.S. power is going to lead to productive outcomes for the world and the American public." —Ashraf Ghani, chairman, Afghan Transition Coordination Commission and former minister of finance, Afghanistan

" A Vulcan's Tale by Dov Zakheim is a great contribution to the memoirs emerging from the war on terrorism. Zakheim had two full-time jobs: He was the Pentagon's comptroller and its reconstruction coordinator. The reader will learn about the bureaucratic politics of financial management, the perils of nation-building, and the fascinating world of international fundraising. An outstanding tale, frankly told." —Joseph J. Collins, professor of national security strategy, National War College, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations

"This vivid and sobering account of intervention and nation-building experiences should be compulsory reading for policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic." —Ana Palacio, former foreign affairs minister of Spain, former senior vice president and general counsel of the World Bank Group

Meet the Author

Dov S. Zakheim served as the under secretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the U.S. Department of Defense from May 2001 to April 2004. He also served in various Defense Department positions during the Reagan administration, including deputy undersecretary for planning and resources. Zakheim is the author of Flight of the Lavi: Inside a U.S.-Israeli Crisis (Brassey's).

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