Getting punchy at Counterpunch

Getting punchy at Counterpunch

Just as my respect for today’s academicians threatens to improve, something like this comes along: Vijay Prashad, a professor at Trinity College up in Hartford, Connecticut, asserts in an article that my recent book, The Gamble, states that the surge was success and "a great victory."

I write to him saying he is flat wrong and quoting my book. Here is my note:

Professor Prashad,

When I saw your comment on my book this morning, I nearly fell out of my chair:

"A new book by The Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks, The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008, claims that the great victory in Iraq is not far . . ."

Look, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But this is not an opinion. Your statement is flat wrong. I actually say that there is no prospect of victory in Iraq, and that we are stuck there for years to come even to reach a mediocre outcome. In addition, I also conclude that the surge failed.

In fact, I don’t think your comment could be written by anyone who actually has read the last 100 pages of my book.   

Would you please correct your statement?


Tom Ricks"

Simple enough, right? I had in mind the section in my book beginning on page 295 titled "The Surge Falls Short," in which I concluded that the surge "succeeded tactically but fell short strategically."

Apparently not so simple. Prof. Prashad wrote back saying this is his interpretation of my book: "I am interested in your comment that you conclude that the ‘surge failed.’ My reading of your book leads me to conclude that you write that the surge did succeed."

I wrote back and said he is entitled to his view but shouldn’t put words in my mouth. I repeated my request for a correction. He didn’t respond.