Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 February, 2008, 12:00am

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

by Thomas E. Ricks

Penguin, HK$128

When Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks began writing Fiasco in 2005, colleagues warned that the title seemed premature. Three years later, few would question his conclusion about 'the American military adventure in Iraq'. A chronicle of insufficient planning and multiple missteps in the country, the book bolsters current judgments with an investigation of reams of official documents and comment from hundreds of interviewees. Importantly, it underscores the bogus retort by the Bush administration that criticism is easy in hindsight. Ricks shows how the decision to invade was questioned at every juncture by members of the CIA, Congress and the US Army. Going beyond damning scrutiny of false pre-war intelligence, the miscalculation of necessary troop numbers and the play-it-by-ear 'strategy' after Saddam Hussein was toppled, he shows how abuse of prisoners became 'routine' and was not confined to Abu Ghraib prison. He also explains how the war effort crumbled under such 'leaders' as Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Myers and Paul Bremer, who ignored advice that the Iraqi army should be kept intact so it could serve as a force for unity.