Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

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 ...

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,

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?

Thanks,

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.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

A propaganda poster from the 1960s shows Chinese leader Mao Zedong.
A propaganda poster from the 1960s shows Chinese leader Mao Zedong.

Xi’s Great Leap Backward

Beijing is running out of recipes for its looming jobs crisis—and reviving Mao-era policies.

A textile worker at the Maxport factory in Hanoi on Sept. 21, 2021.
A textile worker at the Maxport factory in Hanoi on Sept. 21, 2021.

Companies Are Fleeing China for Friendlier Shores

“Friendshoring” is the new trend as geopolitics bites.

German children stand atop building rubble in Berlin in 1948.
German children stand atop building rubble in Berlin in 1948.

Why Superpower Crises Are a Good Thing

A new era of tensions will focus minds and break logjams, as Cold War history shows.

Vacationers sit on a beach in Greece.
Vacationers sit on a beach in Greece.

The Mediterranean as We Know It Is Vanishing

From Saint-Tropez to Amalfi, the region’s most attractive tourist destinations are also its most vulnerable.