My review of Tom Ricks’s “The Gamble”
By Christian Brose A handful of FP.com’s bloggers are doing a book-club discussion this week of Tom Rick’s great new read, The Gamble. I posted my take yesterday. I tackle a few aspects of the book, but here’s my overall feeling: In many ways, Tom has taken on an impossible task: He must recreate the sense of ...
By Christian Brose
By Christian Brose
A handful of FP.com’s bloggers are doing a book-club discussion this week of Tom Rick’s great new read, The Gamble. I posted my take yesterday. I tackle a few aspects of the book, but here’s my overall feeling:
In many ways, Tom has taken on an impossible task: He must recreate the sense of uncertainty that pervaded a policy, an enormous "gamble" as it were, that most people now accept has worked. When people know how the story ends, at least this chapter of it anyway, it’s kind of hard to maintain the suspense.
And this is one thing that didn’t feel quite right to me — the sense of inevitability about it. The situation in Iraq too often feels like it is crying out for a counterinsurgency strategy with more troops, and the champions of the surge come off too neatly throughout as wise men battling political foolishness or military foot-dragging. Now, both are right — in retrospect. And it is probably impossible to recover that absolute, terrifying uncertainty of what the United States was getting itself into with the surge — how back then, there were serious and entirely legitimate debates over whether it was simply too late even to do the right thing, or whether to dump Maliki for an undemocratic solution led by someone like Ayad Allawi, or whether to consider something truly awful like the "80 percent solution."
Even in the hands of one of our best war correspondents, I think it is nearly impossible to recreate the psychology of the leap in the dark that was made in 2007. And that only makes this story, and the many people who brought it about, all the more remarkable.
If I haven’t lost you already, I have a lot more to say. And stay tuned for our other bloggers’ reviews, including Tom’s response, all this week.
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