BookBrowse Reviews Fiasco by Thomas E. Ricks

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Fiasco

The American Military Adventure in Iraq

by Thomas E. Ricks

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

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Perhaps the most complete, incisive analysis yet of the Iraq quagmire. Current Affairs

Apparently, T.E. Lawrence once compared putting down a guerrilla insurgency to attempting to eat soup with a knife - a slow and messy process. This view reflects the opinion of the majority of those interviewed for Fiasco - the Iraq War is not only a slow, messy process but one that could and should have been avoided. Ricks reports that many in the military now publicly acknowledge that the guerilla insurgency that exploded after Saddam's fall was not preordained, and, in fact was created by the war's architects - but those who tried to speak out against the miscalculations and shortsightedness at the time were generally crushed, their careers ended.

What makes Fiasco stand out from the crowd of recently published books about the current situation is the comprehensiveness and coherence of Ricks's reporting, and the dozens of military sources he cites (many going on the record for the first time) backed up by the thousands of pages of internal documents - Ricks says he read over 30,000 pages of documents, including diaries, unit logs, official briefings, email correspondence and US military documents.

Covering the events up until mid-2006 with a postscript that looks back on the year since the book's release - Ricks's once controversial account is increasingly becoming accepted as conventional wisdom.

The last section of the book discusses the possible, mostly grim, scenarios for the Middle East in the next decade. In a 2006 interview, Ricks suggests that, "The Bush Administration doesn't really like "stability" in the Middle East .... 'stability' has been the goal of previous administrations, but pursuing it led to 9/11..... [Stability] is not the goal, it is the target. So [the administration] are for rolling the dice, both in Iraq and in Lebanon." He goes on to say, "I think the big worry is those wars spilling over borders. Fasten your seat belts."

This review was originally published in September 2006, and has been updated for the July 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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