Excerpt from Fiasco by Thomas E. Ricks, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The American Military Adventure in Iraq

by Thomas E. Ricks

Fiasco by Thomas E. Ricks X
Fiasco by Thomas E. Ricks
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2006, 496 pages
    Jul 2007, 512 pages

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Former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, who has worked closely with both and who has been an ideological ally of Wolfowitz but a close friend of Zinni, when asked to compare the two, said, “They have more similarities than differences.” Both are smart and tenacious, and both have strong interests in the Muslim world, from the Mideast to Indonesia—the latter a country in which both have done some work. “The main difference,” Armitage continued, “is that Tony Zinni has been to war, and he’s been to war a lot. So he understands what it is to ask a man to lose a limb for his country.”

Wolfowitz later would say that “realists” such as Zinni did not understand that their policies were prodding the Mideast toward terrorism. If you liked 9/11, he would say after that event, just keep up policies such as the containment of Iraq. Zinni, for his part, would come to view Wolfowitz as a dangerous idealist who knew little about Iraq and had spent no real time on the ground there. Zinni would warn that Wolfowitz’s advocacy of toppling Saddam Hussein through supporting Iraqi rebels was a dangerous and naive approach whose consequences hadn’t been adequately considered. Largely unnoticed by most Americans during the 1990s, these contrasting views amounted to a prototype of the debate that would later occur over the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Excerpted from Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, (c) 2006 by Thomas E. Ricks. Reproduced with permission of the publisher, Penguin Press. All rights reserved.

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