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To Start a War : How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq
by Robert Draper




Overview -
"The detailed, nuanced, gripping account of that strange and complex journey offered in Robert Draper's To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq is essential reading--now, especially now . . . Draper's account is] one for the ages . . . A must-read for all who care about presidential power." --The Washington Post

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Dead Certain comes the definitive, revelatory reckoning with arguably the most consequential decision in the history of American foreign policy--the decision to invade Iraq.

Even now, after more than fifteen years, it is hard to see the invasion of Iraq through the cool, considered gaze of history. For too many people, the damage is still too palpable, and still unfolding. Most of the major players in that decision are still with us, and few of them are not haunted by it, in one way or another. Perhaps it's that combination, the passage of the years and the still unresolved trauma, that explains why so many protagonists opened up so fully for the first time to Robert Draper.

Draper's prodigious reporting has yielded scores of consequential new revelations, from the important to the merely absurd. As a whole, the book paints a vivid and indelible picture of a decision-making process that was fatally compromised by a combination of post-9/11 fear and paranoia, rank na vet , craven groupthink, and a set of actors with id es fixes who gamed the process relentlessly. Everything was believed; nothing was true. The intelligence failure was comprehensive. Draper's fair-mindedness and deep understanding of the principal actors suffuse his account, as does a storytelling genius that is close to sorcery. There are no cheap shots here, which makes the ultimate conclusion all the more damning. In the spirit of Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August and Marc Bloch's Strange Defeat, To Start A War will stand as the definitive account of a collective process that arrived at evidence that would prove to be not just dubious but entirely false, driven by imagination rather than a quest for truth--evidence that was then used to justify a verdict that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and a flood tide of chaos in the Middle East that shows no signs of ebbing.

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    To Start a War (Paperback)
    Published: 2021-07-27
    Publisher: Penguin Books
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Overview

"The detailed, nuanced, gripping account of that strange and complex journey offered in Robert Draper's To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq is essential reading--now, especially now . . . Draper's account is] one for the ages . . . A must-read for all who care about presidential power." --The Washington Post

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Dead Certain comes the definitive, revelatory reckoning with arguably the most consequential decision in the history of American foreign policy--the decision to invade Iraq.

Even now, after more than fifteen years, it is hard to see the invasion of Iraq through the cool, considered gaze of history. For too many people, the damage is still too palpable, and still unfolding. Most of the major players in that decision are still with us, and few of them are not haunted by it, in one way or another. Perhaps it's that combination, the passage of the years and the still unresolved trauma, that explains why so many protagonists opened up so fully for the first time to Robert Draper.

Draper's prodigious reporting has yielded scores of consequential new revelations, from the important to the merely absurd. As a whole, the book paints a vivid and indelible picture of a decision-making process that was fatally compromised by a combination of post-9/11 fear and paranoia, rank na vet , craven groupthink, and a set of actors with id es fixes who gamed the process relentlessly. Everything was believed; nothing was true. The intelligence failure was comprehensive. Draper's fair-mindedness and deep understanding of the principal actors suffuse his account, as does a storytelling genius that is close to sorcery. There are no cheap shots here, which makes the ultimate conclusion all the more damning. In the spirit of Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August and Marc Bloch's Strange Defeat, To Start A War will stand as the definitive account of a collective process that arrived at evidence that would prove to be not just dubious but entirely false, driven by imagination rather than a quest for truth--evidence that was then used to justify a verdict that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and a flood tide of chaos in the Middle East that shows no signs of ebbing.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525561040
  • ISBN-10: 0525561048
  • Publisher: Penguin Press
  • Publish Date: July 2020
  • Page Count: 496
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

To Start a War

The mistakes in judgment that led to the United States invasion of Iraq have frequently been described as a failure of the imagination. However, as Robert Draper demonstrates in his compelling and richly documented To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq, in reality, imagination drove the policy.

Saddam Hussein denied having weapons of mass destruction, but he had used them in the past, and his government had repeatedly lied about them, so his past behavior did raise some questions. Even so, the case for Hussein possessing more of these weapons was based on badly outdated information, almost all circumstantial and often fabricated. President George W. Bush and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz wanted, for their own reasons, to believe the weapons were there and that the U.S. should use that “fact” to oust Hussein.

CIA analysts tried to give the president what he wanted. Eventually, the president needed to know if what the CIA had was sufficient to persuade the public that the “Iraqi threat” justified war. Although Secretary of State Colin Powell thought invading Iraq was a foolish idea, when the president asked him to make the case before the United Nations, he went along.

Draper’s exhaustive research includes interviews with key figures such as Powell, Wolfowitz and Condoleezza Rice, as well as dozens of others from the CIA and the State and Defense Departments. He also makes extensive use of recently released documents to give a vivid picture of how events unfolded. There really was not a process, Draper reveals. For example, there was no plan for what to do following a military victory. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld seemed to give more importance to finding fault with other government agencies and micromanaging his department than to urgent follow-through. Vice President Dick Cheney was allowed to make misleading or false public statements without correction. 

As we continue to live through the ripple effects of this momentous decision in American foreign policy, Draper’s revelatory account deserves a wide readership. 

 

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