War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars

War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars

by Richard N. Haass


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When should the United States go to war?

It is arguably the most important foreign policy question facing any president, and Richard Haass — a member of the National Security Council staff for the first President Bush and the director of policy planning in the State Department for Bush II — is in a unique position to address it. Haass is one of just a handful of individuals — along with Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Bob Gates — involved at a senior level of U.S. government decision making during both Iraq conflicts. He is the first to take us behind closed doors and the first to provide a personal account. The result is a book that is authoritative, revealing, and surprising. Haass explains not only what happened but why.

At first blush, the two Iraq wars appear similar. Both involved a President George Bush and the United States in conflicts with Saddam Hussein and Iraq. There, however, the resemblance ends. Haass contrasts the decisions that shaped the conduct of the two wars and makes a crucial distinction between the 1991 and 2003 conflicts. The first Iraq war, following Saddam Hussein's invasion of neighboring Kuwait, was a war of necessity. It was limited in ambition, well executed, and carried out with unprecedented international support.

By contrast, the second Iraq war was one of choice, the most significant discretionary war undertaken by the United States since Vietnam. Haass argues that it was unwarranted, as the United States had other viable policy options. Making matters worse was the fact that this ambitious undertaking was poorly implemented and fought with considerably more international opposition thanbacking.

These are the principal conclusions of this compelling, honest, and challenging book by one of this country's most respected voices on foreign policy. Haass's assessments are critical yet fair — and carry tremendous weight. He offers a thoughtful examination of the means and ends of U.S. foreign policy: how it should be made, what it should seek to accomplish, and how it should be pursued.

War of Necessity, War of Choice — part history, part memoir — provides invaluable insight into some of the most important recent events in the world. It also provides a much-needed compass for how the United States can apply the lessons learned from the two Iraq wars so that it is better positioned to put into practice what worked and to avoid repeating what so clearly did not.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416549024
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 05/05/2009
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher. Until June 2003, Richard Haass was director of policy planning for the Department of State, where he was a principal advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell.Previously, Haass was vice president and director of foreign policy studies at The Brookings Institution. He was also special assistant to President George Bush and senior director on the staff of the National Security Council from 1989 to1993. Haass is the author of The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course. A Rhodes Scholar, he holds a B.A. from Oberlin College and Master and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Oxford University.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition xvii

1 A Tale of Two Wars 1

2 The Winding Road to War 17

3 Desert Shield 60

4 War of Necessity 116

5 The Clinton Interregnum 154

6 The 9/11 Presidency 168

7 Prelude to War 202

8 War of Choice 233

9 Takeaways from Two Wars 267

Appendix 279

Acknowledgments 295

Notes 297

Index 325

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War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
hermit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"War of Necessity, War of Choice" by Richard N. Haass is a memoir that provides his take from the inside as it were. Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, was a member of the National Security Council advising President George H.W. Bush on Operation Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. He was later a State Department adviser to Colin Powell on the second Iraq war in 2003. As the title suggests in his book he explains why in his opinion the first Iraq war was a war of necessity and the second was a war of choice. With hindsight it is very easy to agree with this sentiment.Though a bit of haughtiness comes through in this book, Mr. Haas personal memoir of the events in question leading up to both wars is very interesting. I would love to read a memoir like this from someone who was in the inner circle and part of all the relevant discussions. His insights into the personalities of those he worked with were very helpful in providing insights at how the two wars came about and the methods used to execute the diplomatic relations with Iraq. War being the final tool in the arsenal one should try to avoid at all cost.His opinion on both President Bush's, though different, is respectful. The author even shares how his relationship changed dramatically with Condoleezza Rice. During the first Bush administration, George H. W. Bush, Sr., they were good friends and watched football games together. But during George W. Bush's administration their relationship became strained as she grew ever more ideologically rigid and closed ranks with the president. This showed me in government you really have no friends just temporary alliances.I feel the author is honest in his beliefs and writings. Mr. Haas confirms like in any job that involves people in large organizations that the policy perspective has some inherent limitations. He makes it clear that he did not know how the President, George W. Bush, made the decision to go to war. It actually came as a surprise as the author was writing policy papers that it seemed no one really wanted to read outside of the Sate Department. The author asserts that either Tony Blair or Colin Powell could have stopped the second Iraq war with a single public speech yet stayed silent. Of course no one can really know what someone else is thinking at the time. So they, like the rest of the world, must have believed in the intelligence reports.Though I disagree with many of Mr. Hass's convictions, like a country should always go to the U.N. first to consult about their foreign policy even before consulting their own representatives, I do agree that the second Iraq war was a war of choice as defined in this book. The author has a couple of other points I do not agree with that the reader will have to decide for themselves. And for a man who referenced so many other sources, I did not like that does not use direct citations of his sources. Still, this is a good case study on how the U.S.A. went to both wars and how different the approaches were.
ksmyth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Richard Haass was a foreign policy insider in both Bush insiders and observed both administrations as they moved toward war in Iraq, in 1991 and 2003. His thesis is that although the first Gulf War had some stumbles, it was a war of necessity that was carefully and cautiously planned and supported by most of the international community and ultimately met with success. His examination of the 2003 Iraq War offers exactly the opposite conclusions. Though he is careful not to suggest that Bush 43 "cooked the books" Haass does suggest that the administration, guided by the Vice President's office, saw the intelligence it wanted to see, and heard what it wanted to hear. According to the author, the administration did the same in applying assumptions to the war such as the number of men it would take to fight the war, how Iraqis would react to the American occupation. Haass gives us some interesting snapshots of the men he served, and worked with. Those he admired most in the first Bush administration include Secretary of State James Baker, and national security advisor Brent Scowcroft. He also speaks positively of President Bush, though he clearly found him a bit stiff and formal. In the Bush 43 administration, he certainly is less negative about the President. Haass found him not to be dumb, but clearly more rash than his cautious father. He is more negative about the Vice-President, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and NSC director Rice. It is clear that some of these folks, such as Rice and Paul Wolfewitz, with whom the author had prior relationships, acted in ways that sincerely puzzled him. As his own position that the Iraq war was one of choice, and not one we were prepared to fight or win, and it differed distinctly with the administration, Haass began to seek a way out, eventually taking over as director of the non-partisan, Council on Foreign Relations. One more figure Haass seeks to explain is Colin Powell. Portrayed as cautious and careful as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Gulf War, Haass tries to explain his speech to the U.N. in which Powell, as Secretary of State to Bush 43, asserted that there was definitive proof of Iraqi WMD's. This has come to be a stain on an otherwise spotless career. Haass asserts that Powell was acting on the known intelligence, and that he simply could not have known the intelligence was inaccurate. Interesting book. Didn't change my view on either war, but some interesting insider views.
plappen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book explores the planning for both Iraq wars, in 1991 and 2003, by one of the few people in a senior Washington position for both conflicts.The 1991 Gulf War does a very good job of fitting the definition of a "just war" or a "necessary war." The cost of letting Saddam Hussein keep Kuwait, and its oil, and thereby strongly influence the entire Middle East oil supply, was too high. The objectives of the war, to get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, were focused and clear-cut. Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believed in using overwhelming force. If you have to go to war, make absolutely sure you have enough troops to do the job; about 500,000 troops were assembled. The war had huge international support, even from several Arab countries. It was consistent with accepted international norms concerning self-defense. As a senior member of the National Security Council, the author saw it all, first-hand.For the 2003 invasion, the author was a senior adviser to Secretary of State Powell. Haass felt that sanctions and inspections were not given enough of a chance to work; invasion was not a last resort. It had much less legal and international support than Gulf War I; this was basically a unilateral affair. There was only one Security Council resolution for support, after America concluded that it was not going to get support for a second. The first Gulf War used half a million troops in a country like Kuwait; how would a much larger place like Iraq need only a third as many troops? Because of financial contributions from other member countries, Gulf War I cost America almost nothing; the tab for Gulf War II has passed $1 trillion; with little chance of America getting financial support from anyone. No matter how good an idea it may have seemed, to its supporters, the execution has to be as good (which it wasn¿t), or maybe it was not such a good idea in the beginning.Here is a very interesting look at two important events in recent American history. Written by an insider, it does a fine job of showing two different answers to the question "How does America go to war?" It is very much worth reading.
carterchristian1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this book is the fact that the author has had personal relationships and is able to give a continuous historical line of how things developed. Interesting how our US political process has enabled us to observe how a father and a son can have had such different experiences with wars in the same country. After a decade of reading this is a nice summing up...until Obama's wars.