I have been waiting for quite some time to find a definitive, exhaustive, comprehensive, politicallly unbiased account of the Second Iraq War - that is Bush the Younger's war. Well my wait is over - I have finally found it in Mr. Rick's work.
The roots of Iraq War II were in the First Iraq War - Bush the Elder's War - no big surprise. So that is were the author starts the narrative. Mr. Ricks shows how Bush I got it right. Saddam Hussein was contained with minimal loss of US life and treasure. But the subtitle "The American military adventure in Iraq" gives the Second Iraq War away. Bush II went and had himself a good old military adventure in Iraq. And the result was a fiasco.
Essentially, this war was fought on a number of levels. The first level was in the Bush advisors. Most of his advisors were bound and determined to eliminate Hussein. And 911 was a good excuse to carry it out. Hussein had foolishly shot his mouth off about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). So these same advisors took full advantage of this and used WMD as the primary reason to eliminate Saddam. Note: to this day, there is NO evidence of Saddam having WMD. Absolutely none. Unfortunately, all of the Western World's intelligence agencies also loudly proclaimed the existance of Saddam's WMD. Which leads to an interesting question. Did these intelligence agencies lie or were they just wrong or perhaps some of both? This question kind of makes it hard to trust these agencies, especially our intelligence agencies - you know the CIA and the like. I would love to see the author explore this question in a future work. But I digress.
The Bush I Advisors bring to mind the Nixon Advisors during the Vietnam War. Both sets of advisors were primarily grounded in civilian life. They had little military background. The result, in both cases, was terrible advice and desasterous results.
"Fiasco" also takes a close look at the Bush II generals. It shows how most of these generals were cut from the same cloth as the advisors. Sounds like they were in bed together. It is really sad when generals act like politicians. You would think that they would have learned from the Vietnam War. At least two did - General Petraeus - the 101 Airborne Division and General Mattis - the Marine Corp.
The bottom line is that both of these wars are earily similar. They were insurgencies. And the US needed to engage as a Counter Insurgency. In both of these conflicts, the US Military (for the most part) ignored established doctrine and employed tactics and strategy that did not fit the actual conflict. They fought the wrong wars. They "Military Center of Mass" was not "Geography" but rather "The Hearts and Minds of the Populace". Apparently the military is more enamered with the glamour and glitz of the big land campaigns of WWII. With the massive numbers of tanks, planes, and ships.
So the conclusion of this book is obvious. Once again the United States Government and Military blew it. They fought the wrong war in Vietnam and we paid dearly for it. They also fought the wrong war in Iraq II and we paid dearly for it. Let us hope that this novel is required reading in our Military Schools and all Schools of Political Science. I pray that these mistakes are not repeated.