State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III

State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III

by Bob Woodward

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"Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year." This was the secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006. The forecast of a more violent 2007 in Iraq contradicted the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush, including one, two days earlier, when he said we were at a "turning point" that history would mark as the time "the forces of terror began their long retreat."

State of Denial examines how the Bush administration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, to Congress, and often to themselves. Two days after the May report, the Pentagon told Congress, in a report required by law, that the "appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane in early 2007."

In this detailed inside story of a war-torn White House, Bob Woodward reveals how White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, with the indirect support of other high officials, tried for 18 months to get Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld replaced. The president and Vice President Cheney refused. At the beginning of Bush's second term, Stephen Hadley, who replaced Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser, gave the administration a "D minus" on implementing its policies. A SECRET report to the new Secretary of State Rice from her counselor stated that, nearly two years after the invasion, Iraq was a "failed state."

State of Denial reveals that at the urging of Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld, the most frequent outside visitor and Iraq adviser to President Bush is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who, haunted still by the loss in Vietnam, emerges as a hidden and potent voice.

Woodward reveals that the secretary of defense himself believes that the system of coordination among departments and agencies is broken, and in a SECRET May 1, 2006, memo, Rumsfeld stated, "the current system of government makes competence next to impossible."

State of Denial answers the core questions: What happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush make decisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And is there an achievable plan for victory?

Bob Woodward's third book on President Bush is a sweeping narrative -- from the first days George W. Bush thought seriously about running for president through the recruitment of his national security team, the war in Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the struggle for political survival in the second term.

After more than three decades of reporting on national security decision making -- including his two #1 national bestsellers on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush at War (2002) and Plan of Attack (2004) -- Woodward provides the fullest account, and explanation, of the road Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the White House staff have walked.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743293259
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 10/02/2006
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
File size: 19 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Bob Woodward is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked for forty-seven years. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first for the Post’s coverage of the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, and second in 2003 as the lead reporter for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has authored or coauthored eighteen books, all of which have been national nonfiction bestsellers. Twelve of those have been #1 national bestsellers. 


Washington, D.C.

Date of Birth:

March 26, 1943

Place of Birth:

Geneva, Illinois


B.A., Yale University, 1965

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

In the fall of 1997, former President George H. W. Bush, then age 74 and five years out of the White House, phoned one of his closest friends, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the longtime Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States.

"Bandar," Bush said, "W. would like to talk to you if you have time. Can you come by and talk to him?" His eldest son and namesake, George W. Bush, who had been governor of Texas for nearly three years, was consulting a handful of people about an important decision and wanted to have a private talk.

Bandar's life was built around such private talks. He didn't ask why, though there had been ample media speculation that W. was thinking of running for president. Bandar, 49, had been the Saudi ambassador for 15 years, and had an extraordinary position in Washington. His intensity and networking were probably matched only by former President Bush.

They had built a bond in the 1980s. Bush, the vice president living in the shadow of President Ronald Reagan, was widely dismissed as weak and a wimp, but Bandar treated him with the respect, attention and seriousness due a future president. He gave a big party for Bush at his palatial estate overlooking the Potomac River with singer Roberta Flack providing the entertainment, and went fishing with him at Bush's vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine -- Bandar's least favorite pastime but something Bush loved. The essence of their relationship was constant contact, by phone and in person.

Like good intelligence officers -- Bush had been CIA director and Bandar had close ties to the world's important spy services -- they had recruited each other. The friendship was both useful and genuine, and the utility and authenticity reinforced each other. During Bush's 1991 Gulf War to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and prevent him from invading neighboring Saudi Arabia, Bandar had been virtually a member of the Bush war cabinet.

At about 4 A.M. on election day 1992, when it looked as if Bush was going to fail in his bid for a second term, Bandar had dispatched a private letter to him saying, You're my friend for life. You saved our country. I feel like one of your family, you are like one of our own. And you know what, Mr. President? You win either way. You should win. You deserve to. But if you lose, you are in good company with Winston Churchill, who won the war and lost the election.

Bush called Bandar later that day, about 1 P.M., and said, "Buddy, all day the only good news I've had was your letter." About 12 hours later, in the early hours of the day after the election, Bush called again and said, "It's over."

Bandar became Bush's case officer, rescuing him from his cocoon of near depression. He was the first to visit Bush at Kennebunkport as a guest after he left the White House, and later visited him there twice more. He flew friends in from England to see Bush in Houston. In January 1993 he took Bush to his 32-room mansion in Aspen, Colorado. When the ex-president walked in he found a "Desert Storm Corner," named after the U.S.-led military operation in the Gulf War. Bush's picture was in the middle. Bandar played tennis and other sports with Bush, anything to keep the former president engaged.

Profane, ruthless, smooth, Bandar was almost a fifth estate in Washington, working the political and media circles attentively and obsessively. But as ambassador his chief focus was the presidency, whoever held it, ensuring the door was open for Saudi Arabia, which had the world's largest oil reserves but did not have a powerful military in the volatile Middle East. When Michael Deaver, one of President Reagan's top White House aides, left the White House to become a lobbyist, First Lady Nancy Reagan, another close Bandar friend, called and asked him to help Deaver. Bandar gave Deaver a $500,000 consulting contract and never saw him again.

Bandar was on hand election night in 1994 when two of Bush's sons, George W. and Jeb, ran for the governorships of Texas and Florida. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush thought that Jeb would win in Florida and George W. would lose in Texas. Bandar was astonished as the election results poured in that night to watch Bush sitting there with four pages of names and telephone numbers -- two pages for Texas and two for Florida. Like an experienced Vegas bookie, Bush worked the phones the whole evening, calling, making inquiries and thanking everybody -- collecting and paying. He gave equal time and attention to those who supported the new Texas governor and the failed effort in Florida.

Bandar realized that Bush knew he could collect on all his relationships. It was done with such a light, human touch that it never seemed predatory or grasping. Fred Dutton, an old Kennedy hand in the 1960s and Bandar's Washington lawyer and lobbyist, said that it was the way Old Man Kennedy, the ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, had operated, though Kennedy's style had been anything but light.

Bandar planned his 1997 visit with the Texas governor around a trip to a home football game of his beloved Dallas Cowboys. That would give him "cover," as he called it. He wanted the meeting to be very discreet, and ordered his private jet to stop in Austin.

When they landed, Bandar's chief of staff came running up to say the governor was already there outside the plane. Bandar walked down the aisle to go outside.

"Hi, how are you?" greeted George W. Bush, standing at the door before Bandar could even get off the plane. He was eager to talk.

"Here?" inquired Bandar, expecting they would go to the governor's mansion or office.

"Yes, I prefer it here."

Bandar had been a Saudi fighter pilot for 17 years and was a favorite of King Fahd; his father was the Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan. Bush had been a jet pilot in the Texas Air National Guard. They had met, but to Bandar, George W. was just another of the former president's four sons, and not the most distinguished one.

"I'm thinking of running for president," said Bush, then 52. He had hardly begun his campaign for reelection as governor of Texas. He had been walking gingerly for months, trying not to dampen his appeal as a potential presidential candidate while not peaking too early, or giving Texas voters the impression he was looking past them.

Bush told Bandar he had clear ideas of what needed to be done with national domestic policy. But, he added, "I don't have the foggiest idea about what I think about international, foreign policy.

"My dad told me before I make up my mind, go and talk to Bandar. One, he's our friend. Our means America, not just the Bush family. Number two, he knows everyone around the world who counts. And number three, he will give you his view on what he sees happening in the world. Maybe he can set up meetings for you with people around the world."

"Governor," Bandar said, "number one, I am humbled you ask me this question." It was a tall order. "Number two," Bandar continued, "are you sure you want to do this?" His father's victory, running as the sitting vice president to succeed the popular Reagan in the 1988 presidential election was one thing, but taking over the White House from President Bill Clinton and the Democrats, who likely would nominate Vice President Al Gore, would be another. Of Clinton, Bandar added, "This president is the real Teflon, not Reagan."

Bush's eyes lit up! It was almost as if the younger George Bush wanted to avenge his father's loss to Clinton. It was an electric moment. Bandar thought it was as if the son was saying, "I want to go after this guy and show who is better."

"All right," Bandar said, getting the message. Bush junior wanted a fight. "What do you want to know?"

Bush said Bandar should pick what was important, so Bandar provided a tour of the world. As the oil-rich Saudi kingdom's ambassador to the United States, he had access to world leaders and was regularly dispatched by King Fahd on secret missions, an international Mr. Fix-It, often on Mission Impossible tasks. He had personal relationships with the leaders of Russia, China, Syria, Great Britain, even Israel. Bandar spoke candidly about leaders in the Middle East, the Far East, Russia, China and Europe. He recounted some of his personal meetings, such as his contacts with Mikhail Gorbachev working on the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. He spoke of Maggie Thatcher and the current British prime minister, Tony Blair. Bandar described the Saudi role working with the Pope and Reagan to keep the Communists in check. Diplomacy often made strange bedfellows.

"There are people who are your enemies in this country," Bush said, "who also think my dad is your friend."

"So?" asked Bandar, not asking who, though the reference was obviously to supporters of Israel, among others.

Bush said in so many words that the people who didn't want his dad to win in 1992 would also be against him if he ran. They were the same people who didn't like Bandar.

"Can I give you one advice?" Bandar asked.


"Mr. Governor, tell me you really want to be president of the United States."

Bush said yes.

"And if you tell me that, I want to tell you one thing: To hell with Saudi Arabia or who likes Saudi Arabia or who doesn't, who likes Bandar or doesn't. Anyone who you think hates your dad or your friend who can be important to make a difference in winning, swallow your pride and make friends of them. And I can help you. I can help you out and complain about you, make sure they understood that, and that will make sure they help you."

Bush recognized the Godfather's advice: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. But he seemed uncomfortable and remarked that that wasn't particularly honest.

"Never mind if you really want to be honest," Bandar said. "This is not a confession booth. If you really want to stick to that, just enjoy this term and go do something fun. In the big boys' game, it's cutthroat, it's bloody and it's not pleasant."

Bandar changed the subject. "I was going to tell you something that has nothing to do with international. When I was flying F-102s in Sherman, Texas, Perrin Air Force Base, you were flying F-102s down the road at another Texas base. Our destiny linked us a long time ago by flying, without knowing each other." He said he wanted to suggest another idea.


"If you still remember what they taught you in the Air Force. I remember it because I spent 17 years. You only spent a few years. Keep your eye on the ball. When I am flying that jet and my life is on the line, and I pick up that enemy aircraft, I don't care if everything around me dies. I will keep my eye on that aircraft, and I will do whatever it takes. I'll never take my eye off."

Former President Bush continued in his efforts to expand his son's horizons and perhaps recruit future staff.

"George W., as you know, is thinking about what he might want to do," he told Condoleezza Rice, the 43-year-old provost of Stanford and one of his favorite junior National Security Council staffers from his White House years. "He's going to be out at Kennebunkport. You want to come to Kennebunkport for the weekend?"

It was August 1998. The former president was proposing a policy seminar for his son.

Rice had been the senior Russia expert on the NSC, and she had met George W. in a White House receiving line. She had seen him next in 1995, when she had been in Houston for a board meeting of Chevron, on which she served, and Bush senior invited her to Austin, where W. had just been sworn in as governor. She talked with the new governor about family and sports for an hour and then felt like a potted plant as she and the former president sat through a lunch Bush junior had with the Texas House speaker and lieutenant governor.

The Kennebunkport weekend was only one of many Thursday-to-Sunday August getaways at Camp Bush with breakfast, lunch, dinner, fishing, horseshoes and other competitions.

"I don't have any idea about foreign affairs," Governor Bush told Rice. "This isn't what I do."

Rice felt that he was wondering, Should I do this? Or probably, Can I do this? Out on the boat as father and son fished, the younger Bush asked her to talk about China, then Russia. His questions flowed all weekend -- what about this country, this leader, this issue, what might it mean, and what was the angle for U.S. policy.

Early the next year, after he was reelected Texas governor and before he formally announced his presidential candidacy, Rice was summoned to Austin again. She was about to step down as Stanford provost and was thinking of taking a year off or going into investment banking for a couple of years.

"I want you to run my foreign policy for me," Bush said. She should recruit a team of experts.

"Well, that would be interesting," Rice said, and accepted. It was a sure shot at a top foreign policy post if he were to win.

Bush raised an important issue with his close adviser Karen Hughes, then 43, a former television reporter who had worked for five years as his communications czar in Texas.

He said he needed to articulate why he wanted to be president. "You know, there has to be a reason," he said. "There has to be a compelling reason to run."

Hughes set out to come up with a central campaign theme. She knew Bush had three policy passions. First, there were the so-called faith-based initiatives -- plans to push more government money to social programs affiliated with religious groups. That enthusiasm was real, but it couldn't be the backbone of a presidential campaign.

Second, Bush cared about education. But America's schools are run at the state and local level. It would be tough to run for president on a national education platform.

Bush's third belief, in tax cuts, held promise. It could provide the rationale. The campaign autobiography Hughes wrote with Bush -- A Charge to Keep, released in November 1999 -- included 19 provisions about "education" and 17 entries under "taxes." "Faith-based organizations" are mentioned three times. The phrase "foreign policy" occurs twice, both in the context of free trade. There was a single reference to Iraq, no mention of Saddam Hussein, terrorists or terrorism.

During one of the 2000 primaries, Bush called Al Hubbard, a former deputy chief of staff to his father's vice president, J. Danforth Quayle, and one of a group of advisers the elder Bush had recruited to tutor his son on economic issues.

"Hubbard," Bush exclaimed. "Can you believe this is what I'm running on! This tax cut!"

Bush invited Richard L. Armitage, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, to join his team of foreign policy advisers. Armitage, 54, was Colin Powell's best friend. Barrel-chested with a shaved head, a weight-lifting addict who could bench-press 330 pounds, Armitage was a 1967 graduate of the Naval Academy. He signed on because he believed that the Clinton administration had no theory or underlying principle for its foreign and defense policies. It was ad hoc. The Republicans had a chance of getting it right. Armitage was an admirer of Bush senior, who he felt understood the necessity of a strong foreign policy tempered by restraint.

The U.S. military was preeminent in the world and could dominate or stabilize any situation, in Armitage's view. Clinton and his team had failed to develop adequate exit strategies for getting out of foreign entanglements such as Bosnia or Kosovo in the Balkans.

A big job for the next president, he thought, was no less than figuring out the purpose of American foreign policy. Rice's team called themselves the Vulcans. The name started out in jest because Rice's hometown, Birmingham, Alabama, known for its steel mills, had a giant statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and metal. But the group, which included Paul Wolfowitz, the undersecretary for policy in Cheney's Pentagon, liked the image of toughness, and Vulcans soon became their self-description.

In 1999, Armitage attended five meetings with Bush and various Vulcans. He found good news and bad news. The best news was that Bush wanted Powell to be his secretary of state.

At the first Vulcan meeting in February 1999, Bush had asked, "Is defense going to be an issue in the 2000 campaign?" The advisers said they didn't think it would. Bush said he wanted to make defense an issue. He said he wanted to transform the military, to put it in a position to deal with new and emerging threats.

To do that, the advisers said, the military would need new equipment to make it more mobile and modern, and more advanced training and intelligence gathering. This might take 15 to 20 years before the real advantages would be realized. It would certainly be beyond a Bush presidency, maybe not in their lifetimes.

Bush indicated he was willing to make that investment. Armitage and the others worked on a speech that Bush gave at The Citadel, the South Carolina public military university, on September 23, 1999.

"I will defend the American people against missiles and terror," Bush said, "And I will begin creating the military of the next century.... Homeland defense has become an urgent duty." He cited the potential "threat of biological, chemical and nuclear terrorism.... Every group or nation must know, if they sponsor such attacks, our response will be devastating.

"Even if I am elected, I will not command the new military we create. That will be left to a president who comes after me. The results of our effort will not be seen for many years."

Armitage was pleased to see realism in a presidential campaign. He thought that terrorism, and potential actions by rogue states such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea, could be trouble, but not lethal. The big issues in defense policy were the great power relationships with Russia, China and India.

But there was also bad news about Bush. "For some reason, he thinks he's going to be president," Armitage told Powell. It was like there was some feeling of destiny. Bush talked as if it was a certainty, saying, "When I'm president..." Though not unusual for candidates to talk this way in speeches, Bush spoke that way privately with his advisers. It was as if Bush were trying to talk himself into it.

And there was Bush's smirk, Armitage said.

The big problem, Armitage thought, was that he was not sure Bush filled the suit required of a president. He had a dreadful lack of experience. Armitage told his wife and Powell that he was not sure Governor Bush understood the implications of the United States as a world power.

Copyright © 2006 by Bob Woodward

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State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all three of the trilogy, and in my view this one is the best . . . as it summarizes key point from both of the previous volumes. The challenge I have is that if this data is accurate, and I suspect it largely is, our country simply isn't stepping up to deal with the significant degree of misguided leadership. What ever happened to the baby boom generation that was going to positively change the world back in the late 60s early 70s? I'm wondering why this material does not have the powerful impact that the Bob Woodward of 'All the President's Men' fame had?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This exceptional book reveals the Bush Administration¿s war in Iraq through the exacting eyes of noted journalist Bob Woodward. The third volume in his 'Bush at War' series, it unfolds as a vivid history, a detailed, a step-by-step progression of events, personalities and motives. Woodward lets the insiders and their stories speak for themselves as he describes how both powerful and everyday people succumb to large public mistakes, and how those shape history. He has written this book as a series of short vignettes - and as the scenes unfold, so do the personalities and their individual quirks. Readers see why some plans succeeded and others failed. Those who seek sinister people with ulterior motives will be disappointed. The story did not develop that way. These seem to be well-meaning people who lost touch and failed. We consider this essential reading for anyone who seriously wants to understand the Iraq war and the people fighting it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Before the war it appeared we were on a one way trip toward war. Realizing our fate I picked up a copy of the Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. She painted a picture of the inevitable course we would follow in the winter of 2002-2003. Critical thinking appeared to be out the window. Hubris and momentum were pushing us toward war. Woodward shows us, as a few before him have, it was. The political infighting, childish bickering paints a tragic picture of what happens when a few dominate our Government. Most of the players were privileged inbreeds with multiple connections to multiple administrations. Bush is of course a third generation politician. Inbreeding is a bad thing. We are clearly not a meritocracy, if we were we would not be in Iraq. Too bad people were not allowed to think outside the box. Too bad Rumsfeld lasted so long. History will not be kind to these narrow minded individuals. This book paints an early telling of that portrait. A bunch of privileged people acting like adolescents getting tens of thousands of people killed. Like at least 500,000 other American¿s I got to spent part of 2003-2004 over seas because of these adolescents. Tragic to fully grasp why. Thanks for this well rounded and easy to read work. It may be too late for a strategy now
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was yet another great read by Woodward. His work is only reinforcing the history being written about this administration which shows - and will continue to show, regardless of current conservative rhetoric - an incompetent President driven by an equally incompetent inner-circle of advisors into an unnecessary war, and their collective failure to prosecute the war correctly once our country was committed. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld failed our troops and mismanaged the facts on the ground and deserves a great deal of the blame for the mess we are in now in Iraq. However, he answers to the President who is ultimately responsible for failing to appreciate the facts in Iraq. The rhetoric from both the President and Vice-President has never honestly portrayed the reasons for or the realities of this war to the American people and both deserve history's credit for its failure. I can't wait to see the author's next book on the administration. Maybe he can take a look at corporate influences into the decision to invade in the first place.
brianinbuffalo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An informative overview that pulls together the motives, policies and key characters that have shaped the war. Unfortunately, people who have paid close attention to ongoing developments might not find as many "wow factors" in this text as those who haven't followed current events. I also made the mistake of reading a book highlights article in a weekly magazine prior to tackling the larger work. The digested version hit on all the key themes. Still, Woodward's work is thorough and accessible.
arsmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i listened to this on my thanksgiving drive cross country. kinda boring but i think i absorbed some of it. probably more than if i had waited around to read it, considering it's been on my list forever.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
State of Denial is the third in a series of books by reporter Bob Woodward about President George W. Bush and his handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. I have not read the others and did not have any particular interest in doing so. State of Denial focuses on the period that led up to Iraq until just before the surge. That's what I wanted to know more about and Woodward certainly delivers.The book follows the distinct narrative style Woodward is known for. There's a lot of information packed in, but the clearest star of the story is Donald Rumsfeld. The book certainly doesn't portray him in a positive light. Unimaginative, arrogant, and fussy are the best words to describe this portrait of the former Secretary of Defense. Rumsfeld enters Washington with a plan to streamline the military without their cooperation. I say without not because they refused, but because Rumsfeld did everything he could to ensure they would not be onboard. He seemed to bully everyone, even those that agreed with him. He micromanaged, yet seemed paralyzed by important decisions. These are the insights State of Denial provides, and while Rumsfeld comes out the worst, all the major players are addressed in full.The bigger question is whether or not any of it is true. Woodward, true to his history, does not cite sources. He relies on extensive interviews with key players. Woodward claims he does not accept anything as true without multiple source confirmation. He has a reputation that backs him up. But nevertheless, given the nature of this book, there are people who will disbelieve its contents and Woodward doesn't give them a compelling reason not to.I believe it is mostly accurate however. And for this reason, I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking to see the decision making that led to the Iraq War and its mishandling. The hard truth seems to be mistakes were less about evil intentions and more about apathy and incompetence at the highest levels.
ALincolnNut on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bob Woodward, the legendary Washington Post reporter who helped to break open the Watergate story decades ago, offers his third (of four) glimpses into the Bush administration in "State of Denial," which focuses on the period between mid-2004 and the end of 2005. Woodward taps into his range of sources throughout Washington, evidently including several high placed Pentagon people, and a number of on-the-record interviews with several of the principle people to construct this look at the Iraq war.As usual, Woodward uncovers the details of many behind the scenes conversations and attitudes. The power struggles between the State Department and the Defense Department, hinted at in other reports and books, take center stage here. Unlike most of Woodward's other books, though, "State of Denial" has a clear villain, long-embattled Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld (whose resignation was accepted in the months after this book was published). Rumsfeld is portrayed as an aging power-seeker who evidently does not play very well with others, but one who cannot seem to accept the responsibility for the authority he seeks (and Woodward believes, he is tacitly granted by the president with regards to Iraq).This is not to suggest that others look particularly good in the book. As might be expected of reporting that chronicles a period in the war in which all the signs pointed towards failure, there's a lot of finger-pointing. The 'state of denial' of the title seems two-fold -- there is the obvious public sugar-coating about how the war in Iraq is going by virtually everyone in power that Woodward finds was prevalent even behind closed doors. But the 'state of denial' also seems to describe the key military and political players' refusal to accept ultimate responsibility for much of what was happening and would happen in Iraq, which led to a giant effort with little accountability for any of those leaders.Without accountability, little forward progress could be made towards improving security or infrastructure in Iraq. For months at a time, including during this period when insurgent attacks were skyrocketing in frequency and potency, there was little change in the American strategic effort. (In hindsight, Woodward is describing a vacuum into which a leader with a solid vision and the means to enact it might be successful, which may be what happened under Gen. David Petreus' leadership and the military surge in Iraq after the period Woodward chronicles in this book.) More than some of his other books, Woodward is an active narrator and interviewer in these pages, asking questions that he believes were not seriously considered by top officials. At times, he apparently believes it was his role as interrogator to push those he was interviewing to see alternative possibilities, rather than simply eliciting their view of events. This self-portrayal seems to be Woodward's guiding assessment of the situation, that the leadership was out of touch with reality, needing to be forcefully guided toward a more accurate view of the war. As such, the book can seem partisan at times, though I don't believe it is meant to be.Opponents of the war will find much that confirms their suspicions. Proponents may be frustrated by the performance of certain key players. Regardless, the book is a must-read first look at the George W. Bush administration's darkest time in Iraq, a fly-on-the-wall account of meetings where decisions seem to be as often avoided as made and of personalities that seem at odds with the necessities of the times.
maunder on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you wanted to be a fly on the wall in the discussions at the White House and Department of Defense in the Bush adminsitrations, then this is as close as you will get. In sometimes tedious detail, Woodward describes the reaction of the Rumsfeld and Bush to the degeneration of Iraq following the US invasion. Several important changes happened to the structure of government during these years not the least of which was the dominance of the Secretary of Defense over the Joint Chiefs of Staff.. As a result, a potentially critical voice was filtered through Rumsfeld's point of view. Bush is portrayed as being more interested in keeping a team of egos together than defining a path forward. A long read and I sometimes felt that the "granularity" was sometimes a bit much.
madamejeanie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This enlightening and extremely well-written book examines how the BushAdministration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, toCongress, and often to themselves. It answers the core questions: Whatreally happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush makedecisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And isthere an achievable plan for victory? This is the third book Woodward haswritten on the Bush presidency. It follows "Bush At War" (2002) and "Planof Attack" (2004), and these three books will very likely take their placeas the definitive narrative of the entire debacle that is known as the BushAdministration. Woodward's no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is writing stylehasn't changed since the Watergate exposure and it is my belief that thesethree books provide what is likely the most complete account and explanationof the road that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and the rest of that bunchhave taken this entire nation down for the past 8 years. I cannot recommendthis book highly enough. IMO, every American should read it. 5
mamorico on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Informative, reavealing, and frightening, I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in what is wrong with government in general and the Bush administration specifically. Occasionally Woodward seems to make the same point more than once, but this book is a call for change. Regime change right here at home.
piefuchs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fast, engrossing, dare I say, journalist, read - stories well told as they happen, with little commentary. Whereas Fiasco (a worthy book to read in parallel) focused on the problems of the military in Iraq, State of Denial details the political machinations that got us into this mess. While most of the juicy tidbits in the book were well publicized in the press, I think the underlying themes of the book were a little ignored. As a collective entity, the upper echelons of power in Washington (including the military) were consumed with a careerist ethos which lead them to prioritize maintain their personal power over all else. Consequently, when given the oppotunity for face time with the president, the universal reaction was simply to tell him (and his merry band of gentleman) what they wanted to hear - i.e., mision accomplished, all going smoothly. The way it is presented by Woodward, Rumsfeld did his best to create an atmosphere where everyone knew not to question his wisdom, Bush on the other hand, simply failed to ask probing questions and invited dissenting opinions into his inner sanctum. In fact in the book details on two instance where Bush exposed himself to dissenting opinion - both of which could not be avoided - meetings with Republician senators and hospital visits with wounded troops and their families.State of Denial, like Fiasco, appears to cover to 2006, but in reality, 2003 and 2004 are covered in detail, 2005 and 2006, in precis.
figre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A lot can happen in four years. In 2006, when this book was published, we were all learning just how much had been hidden related to the war in Iraq. In 2010, it is no where near as shocking. However, it is well worth the visit back a mere four years to remind ourselves how we wound up in this mess.Woodward does his usual thorough job investigating how Iraq turned into the problem we all see today. And, if his past reviews of the Bush administration seemed to paint a somewhat favorable or neutral picture (which, to me, they did ¿ that is, they did not seem to go for what looked to be an exposed jugular), this description has no such qualms. The entire administration is seen as a back-biting, bickering, game-playing, power-mongering group of clueless bureaucrats and generals who cannot come together to provide any direction other than attack. Rumsfeld is enemy number one in this description, but most of the supporting players have their chance at ignominy also. We also see the individuals who try to get the issues raised, but they are voices crying in the wilderness.It is well researched, and Woodward has the facts. Of course, he also has the power to make the facts tell the story he sees. Is that story the actual truth? It is very hard to tell. But Woodward has the floor, and the facts and figures he presents are very persuasive to the jury.
bobbieharv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating behind the scenes glimpse of the dysfunctional White House, the power games, and Bush's inability to lead or make decisions. Overwhelming impression of a weak cheerleader. Woodward missed the predominant role of Cheney, undoubtedly because he was beholden to him. Woodward is a fauning despicable suckup, a far cry from what he used to be, but this was well-written and very engrossing at least.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Bush, forsaking all advice, didn't take Rumsfeld of his Cabinet like others had told him to do, including his trusted adviser Andy Card. In what expired between 2004-2006 was a calamity that turned the Bush Presidency into the irrelevant product that it is today. As they sacked David Kay and others who had good advice on the explosive nature of Iraq, they farmed out most of their knowledge to Steven Hadley at the State Department and the control goes to the Defense Department instead of the CIA, where it should have been in the beginning. Rumsfeld comes off as cold and aloof, with his idiotic 'transformational' ideas for the military when he didn't care to involve military commanders. Finally, Woodward got it correct.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is nothing more than speculation that panders to the leftist this country continues to head down the same road that created the spanish civil war, we can all look back at polemic's like this that caused it. woodward's first two books on the subject were decent, fact bound reads that left the reader the option of opinion. starting with the title of this book, STATE OF DENIAL, the opinion for the reader is already on bush-haters
Guest More than 1 year ago
An eye opening account of the day to day decision making process of the Bush strategy in Iraq.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I admit that I come to this book as someone who does not support the war and I opposed it from the very beginning. I just don't think that you attack another sovereign country, because you don't like them and you want to demonstrate your strength as a superpower. WMD (at worst we were talking about WWI nerve gas... and other countries like North Korea and Iran posed more of a threat), links to al Qaeda (al Qaeda hated the secular regime of Sadam), spreading democracy (sounds a lot like the nation building that Bush had criticized in 2000)? -- all excuses, not reasons for war. I don't think the book really answers the question of why we went to war. Bush planned to take out Sadam before he even took office and before 9/11. Maybe Prince Bandar wanted it... it was incredible to learn that a Saudi Arabian prince was brought in to teach the candidate Bush foreign policy. That is truly incredible... What surprised me was the extent of the dysfunctional nature of our government. I guess I shouldn't have been after seeing the Katrina response. The book reveals that Bush had to order Rumsfeld personally to send the National Guard. I am also concerned about how much Rumsfeld has damaged the American military. The war has truly made all of us less safe and it will take decades to repair the damage done. The book also reveals the less than total agreement with the foreign policy created by Bush, Chaney, and Rice. It will be interesting to see how George H. Bush tries to bale out his son... he only has 2 years left to do it. Hopefully this means no Jed Bush in 2008.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Woodward's book presents an insightful glimpse into the inner workings of the Bush administration as it led our country into the war in Iraq. I believe this was a fair presentation of a very polically volatile issue for our nation. Woodward gives the reader a very good opportunity to see the interaction of various, powerful personalities within Bush's administration and of the president himself and how that interplay led to the commencement of hostile action in Iraq and, most importantly, to the disasterous aftermath that we see playing itself out before our eyes today. Woodward methodically pieces together the sequence of events that precipitated the Iraq conflict. It is disturbing to see how our government made the case for preemptive war with Iraq with but the slightest volume of reliable evidence which, afterward turned out to be false. The entire issue of WMD was found to be a massive misinterpretation of intelligence and bias against the Iraqi leader. Further disturbing is to see the political infighting and poor planning that has led to a quagmire for our country in Iraq and, consequently, our inability to extricate ourselves from it. This book was very illuminating and helped me to better understand how we drifted into this sad state of affairs.
ClarkP More than 1 year ago
Excellent, thank you Bob Woodward.