To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq

Penguin Pr. Jul. 2020. 496p. ISBN 9780525561040. $30. POL SCI
The 2003 War in Iraq was an exercise in amateurish decision making, jealous infighting among President George W. Bush’s department heads, and strategies based on belief more than fact, claims Draper (When the Tea Party Came to Town) in this authoritative investigation of how critical foreign policy should not be made. Draper is at his best when describing the most prominent advocates for war to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein: Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Rumsfeld, obsessed with controlling policy flow, is portrayed as a micromanager who frequently battled with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and CIA Director George Tenet. Ultimately, Draper shows that this was George Bush’s war because he appointed Rumsfeld, was convinced that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and hid weapons of mass destruction, and was certain that Iraqis would welcome the United States as conquering heroes.
VERDICT Although exhaustive details might discourage general audiences, informed readers and foreign policy specialists will be engaged in what is likely the definitive contemporary account of the origins of the War in Iraq.
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