“Incurious” Former President = “Masterful” in Iraq Surge?


Categorie: Accountability, Iraq, WIB Reads |


In a review of Tom Ricks’ new book The Gamble, Josh Trevino highlights so-called “transitional figures” who played important roles in the implementation of the Iraq “surge” strategy that helped turn the tide against extremists. “The most surprising — and least discussed — transitional figure in The Gamble is President George W. Bush,” Trevino writes:

It’s no secret that the President was tightly bound to the persons and policies he chose to trust: a sometime virtue that became, in war, too often a flaw. In this light, his decision to support the surge over the record of his own leadership, the advice of his entire uniformed military leadership (excepting [General David] Petraeus himself), and his outgoing Secretary of Defense was a profound departure from expectations. Yet once he did shift course, he adhered to it with the same tenacity with which he pursued his previous strategy. As Ricks notes, it is certainly easy and even right to fault Bush for taking three years to get things right — but he was ahead of the actual leadership of the U.S. armed forces when he did.

Ricks (who is, it should be noted, no Republican) also allows the reader a glimpse into the private conduct of the former President, who comes across as more than the incurious mouthpiece of popular media portrayals. “In these meetings [on Iraq strategy,]” Ricks reports one Army officer saying, “he is masterful — good political insights, good handle on the subject.” Among The Gamble’s many contributions to the history of this era must be a credit to George W. Bush, who got so many things wrong, but got this one big thing right. 

(Photo: AP)


One Response to ““Incurious” Former President = “Masterful” in Iraq Surge?”

  1. Wild Bill says:

    While Bush II had many faults as president he was not the bumbling idiot that he was made out to be. His verbal miscues gave an opening to his enemies that enabled them to ridicule him. Ridicule is and excellent weapon. The first rule of ridicule is when at first it does not work you just keep piling on the ridicule until it does. This attack on Bush was well planned and coordinated to great effect. Bush is a veracious reader of history. One of his heroes is Winston Churchill. You know Churchill, the guy who while under murderous attack from the Germans said never, never, never, never, surrender. The British were aware of Bush’s interest in Churchill and lent a bronze bust of Churchill to Bush, which he proudly displayed in the Oval office. One of the benefits of reading about history is the process and consequences of how decisions are made in the arena of public policy. I believe this study of history served Bush well when the decision came to “surge” or not to “surge”.

    As we look to the future and how our current president makes decisions it is interesting to note that he removed the bust of Churchill and returned it to the British embassy. My guess is that President Obama may be as well read but his reading list might tend more toward Trotsky.

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