Daniel W. Drezner

My contribution to the Ricks fan club

Please do check out Foreign Policy’s Book Club discussion of Tom Ricks’ The Gamble, his excellent and contrarian follow-up to Fiasco.  Here’s a link to Marc Lynch’s take, and that is followed by Christian Brose. My take just went up.  The point I want to stress:  [T]he ways in which the architects of the surge ...

Please do check out Foreign Policy’s Book Club discussion of Tom Ricks’ The Gamble, his excellent and contrarian follow-up to Fiasco.  Here’s a link to Marc Lynch’s take, and that is followed by Christian Brose.

My take just went up.  The point I want to stress: 

[T]he ways in which the architects of the surge got their way seems like an exact replay of how the architects of the invasion and initial occupation got their way — operating through bureaucratic backchannels and endruns, ideologically simpatico think tanks, and — of course — Dick Cheney’s office. For those of us who want the policymaking process to work, this looks like another fiasco. Petraeus’s decision to co-opt the Sunni insurgents, for example, was made without consulting the president. Doesn’t that echo J. Paul Bremer’s disastrous decision to disband the Iraqi military without consultation? Petraeus, Odierno, and Jack Keane might have been right on the merits, but to get their way they bypassed the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CENTCOM commander, the State Department, and the NSC interagency process. The Gamble argues that these actors were impediments to the right strategy. All well and good, but what is to stop another cluster of bureaucratic "insurgents" from bypassing the chain of command and telling political leaders what they want to hear on, say, Afghanistan, North Korea or Iran? Is there a need for another, more ambitious version of Goldwater-Nichols?

Go check it out — and Ricks will respond to all of these comments at the end of the week. 

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