Book Review: The War Within by Bob Woodward
March 14, 2011
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The fourth book of the Bush at War series by Bob Woodward, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008, covers the years the final two years of the Bush Presidency and recounts the decisions and internal strife of that period. The War Within picks up where State of Denial left off, with Iraq declining into a violent cesspool of sectarian war and the U.S. with no decisive strategy. While State of Denial was condemning in accounts and tone, The War Within is a slightly drier account as the situation in Iraq goes from horrible to improving.
The focus of the book is the struggle of how to address the rising insurgency in Iraq that was causing such violence. On one side you had the Defense Department led by Donald Rumsfeld and commanding General William Casey advocating a troop drawdown to make the Iraqis responsible for their own well being. The other push was for a “surge,” bringing more troops into Iraq to help quell the violence. As we all know, the surge ended up happening and General Petraeus replaced Casey as the commanding General and Bob Gates became the new Secretary of Defense. What may be the most interesting tidbit in the book and that is not explored is that the real change of fortune in Iraq was most likely due not to the surge but instead a secret Manhattan Project like innovation (page 380). Unfortunately, due to its highly classified status, the reader doesn’t get anymore explanation than that
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