Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Book Analysis and Notes: Losing Iraq

I finished reading Losing Iraq and put up some notes. I had low expectations for this, and was actually pleasantly surprised by the material on the Kurds. The rest was plain vanilla, but at least it was well written.

My basic questions going in:

- How well prepared at the outset does the author think we were? Does he put stock in the joint planning committee work? I've heard that panned in numerous contexts.

Answer: I got the sense that Phillips blamed the lack of pre-war planning and particularly the lack of a reality-based concept of Iraqi government. He didn't condemn the opposition comittee, but he didn't try to hide the fact that it was basically useless. That's in contravention to the myth that the State Department had all these great plans that the DOD tossed. Not to excuse the DOD, who were operating in fantasy land.

- What does he consider the worst errors, and who was responsible?


1) Cheney and his people, for assuming authority but not responsibility over the opposition groups, and generally making things worse.

2) Chalabi, for lying about his support in Iraq.

3) Zalmay Khalizad, for preventing Iran from playing a legitimate role in Iraq early on when it could have made a difference.

Phillips cited an Iraqi academic as being a smart guy, I'll see if I can find anything he wrote post-war.

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