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War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars

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Hardcover current events, politics, Iraq


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Hardcover current events, politics, Iraq

30 review for War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    Read this book to hear the thoughts of the guy who was right about everything. I've always had a lot of respect for Haass as a policy maker and thinker. He's a great balance between pragmatism and idealism, with a slight leaning towards pragmatism because of his appreciation for the limits of what military power can achieve and the need to exercise restraint in foreign affairs. In this book he shows a solid grasp of how we should think about American grand strategy and the particularly important Read this book to hear the thoughts of the guy who was right about everything. I've always had a lot of respect for Haass as a policy maker and thinker. He's a great balance between pragmatism and idealism, with a slight leaning towards pragmatism because of his appreciation for the limits of what military power can achieve and the need to exercise restraint in foreign affairs. In this book he shows a solid grasp of how we should think about American grand strategy and the particularly important question of when we go to war. His basic argument is that the Gulf War was a war of necessity on strategic, economic, and moral grounds. He discusses his fairly central role on the NSC in making Iraq policy in 1990 and 1991. He has a particularly good defense of the engagement policy towards Iraq between 1988 and 1990. Trying to appeal to or incentivize a nasty leader may not be palatable, but it's often a better option than making conflict a self-fulfilling prophecy by antagonizing or cornering him. The second half of the book argues that the Iraq War was a war of choice, which means that while it may have served a strategic purpose but there were other ways to approach the problem rather than the use of force. He offers a nice if fairly conventional summary of why we went to war and how it turned into such a disaster. He has some very compelling personal evaluations of major policy-makers, especially Condi Rice and the Bush Presidents. The memo he adds at the end about the problems a US occupation would likely face is incredibly accurate and should have been heeded. Another failure of Powell, Haass' boss, to press the President to prepare more thoroughly for securing and rebuilding Iraqi society. One question that pops into my mind after reading this is why Haass was essentially downgraded between the first and second Bush presidencies. The first Bush presidency was full of realists, albeit not hardcore ones like Kissinger. Haass fit in well with Scowcroft (his boss then), Powell, Baker, and even Cheney, who was much less, well, evil as Secretary of Defense. However, Bush II chose a very different cast, including highly ideological appointees, hawks, and unilateralists. Why he didn't bring people like Haass, who his dad liked, into more prominent positions is interesting to speculate but may never be known. Like so many of Bush II's decisions, you wonder how he came to his position beyond just what his gut told him to do. This book also offers some nice fodder for my own research. Haass portrays 9/11 as a transformative moment in our thinking about Iraq, but I think he's overlooking the effect of the 1990's in discrediting the containment policy and setting much of the groundwork, politically and ideologically, for an active policy of regime change. Just a thought. I wouldn't recommend this specific book to people who aren't doing Iraq research in some way, but I do think that people should listen to people like Richard Haass more generally. His work is level-headed, evidence-based, well-informed, and morally informed enough to avoid truly unethical decisions or policies.

  2. 4 out of 5

    elizabeth george

    Richard Haass is currently president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-partison think tank. He served in both Bush administrations as an advisor to Colin Powell and director on the National Security Council. This is a his view of foreign policy under both Presidents. It offered not only the history of US involvment in Irag but a insightful analysis of presidential decision making. I would highly recommend this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Darrell Fisher

    A must read! i dint agree with everything premise but it is a solid explanation of the previous administration deliberate con job to get us in a war that was only created to make rich people richer Read this book

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jameyanne Fuller

    This was a well-done, fascinating read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Monsees

    A critique of the Iraq Wars from a Bush insider that bats away many of the commonly held beliefs about both Iraq wars but lends credence to both the benefits of the first and mistakes of the second.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lance Cooper

    good look at gulf war v. OIF and the reasons for both

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This book explores the planning for both Iraq wars, in 1991 and 2003, by one of the few people in a senior Washington position for both conflicts. The 1991 Gulf War does a very good job of fitting the definition of a "just war" or a "necessary war." The cost of letting Saddam Hussein keep Kuwait, and its oil, and thereby strongly influence the entire Middle East oil supply, was too high. The objectives of the war, to get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, were focused and clear-cut. Colin Powell, then This book explores the planning for both Iraq wars, in 1991 and 2003, by one of the few people in a senior Washington position for both conflicts. The 1991 Gulf War does a very good job of fitting the definition of a "just war" or a "necessary war." The cost of letting Saddam Hussein keep Kuwait, and its oil, and thereby strongly influence the entire Middle East oil supply, was too high. The objectives of the war, to get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, were focused and clear-cut. Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believed in using overwhelming force. If you have to go to war, make absolutely sure you have enough troops to do the job; about 500,000 troops were assembled. The war had huge international support, even from several Arab countries. It was consistent with accepted international norms concerning self-defense. As a senior member of the National Security Council, the author saw it all, first-hand. For the 2003 invasion, the author was a senior adviser to Secretary of State Powell. Haass felt that sanctions and inspections were not given enough of a chance to work; invasion was not a last resort. It had much less legal and international support than Gulf War I; this was basically a unilateral affair. There was only one Security Council resolution for support, after America concluded that it was not going to get support for a second. The first Gulf War used half a million troops in a country like Kuwait; how would a much larger place like Iraq need only a third as many troops? Because of financial contributions from other member countries, Gulf War I cost America almost nothing; the tab for Gulf War II has passed $1 trillion; with little chance of America getting financial support from anyone. No matter how good an idea it may have seemed, to its supporters, the execution has to be as good (which it wasn’t), or maybe it was not such a good idea in the beginning. Here is a very interesting look at two important events in recent American history. Written by an insider, it does a fine job of showing two different answers to the question "How does America go to war?" It is very much worth reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rob Katz

    This is Richard Haass's attempt to establish his mainstream credentials as a supporter of the first Iraq war but an early skeptic of the second Iraq War. As a deputy of James Baker during Bush I he relates a blow-by-blow of policy making in the run up to and during Desert Storm; his insights to what motivated the principal actors is a good primer to the administration's view of the conflict. Admirably, he admits that sheer fatigue contributed to a ragged immediate postwar policy, as Saddam bruta This is Richard Haass's attempt to establish his mainstream credentials as a supporter of the first Iraq war but an early skeptic of the second Iraq War. As a deputy of James Baker during Bush I he relates a blow-by-blow of policy making in the run up to and during Desert Storm; his insights to what motivated the principal actors is a good primer to the administration's view of the conflict. Admirably, he admits that sheer fatigue contributed to a ragged immediate postwar policy, as Saddam brutally put down insurrections in the north and south. He describes Clinton's approach, noting that in 1998 when Saddam was blowing off inspectors, the administration was distracted by impeachment proceedings. In 1998 the day that "punitive" military actions ended was the same day the House impeached President Bush. (Haass also wrote a broader book about Clinton's missed foreign policy opportunities.)The Reluctant Sheriff: The United States After the Cold War Form follows function as Haass delves into Bush II. Haass was Colin Powell's Policy Planning deputy at State. Most of the history of the policy-making process in the run-up to the war has focused on the marginalization of Powell and the State Department and Haass's account is no different. Appropriately, his blow-by-blow is far less intimate. He describes the decision to go to war as informal and not subjected to interagency review, and the poorer for it. Perhaps the difference can be summed up in one sentence: Iraq I had a limited, clear mission and 450,000 troops, while Iraq II had 150,000 troops and a much broader, more ambiguous mission. (And the "surge" was 30,000 troops.) He describes the US after 9/11 as a hammer looking for a nail. The U.S. needed to show that it could alter its environment to suit its needs - credibility - and Iraq was a useful target.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Edgar Raines

    This is a clearly written and insight memoir by Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, about America's two wars with Iraq, the 1990-91 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War. The first, in Haass' view was a war of necessity, the second a war of choice. During the first war Haass was a member of the National Security Council Staff. He, in fact, held the Middle East portfolio on the staff. He worked closely with the National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, the Sec This is a clearly written and insight memoir by Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, about America's two wars with Iraq, the 1990-91 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War. The first, in Haass' view was a war of necessity, the second a war of choice. During the first war Haass was a member of the National Security Council Staff. He, in fact, held the Middle East portfolio on the staff. He worked closely with the National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, the Secretary of State, James Baker, and the President, George H. W. Bush. Haass drafted most of the President's remarks pertaining to the Middle East during the crisis. In the second war, he was the head of the Bureau of Policy Planning in the State Department. Not a member of President's George W. Bush's inner circle of advisors, he was appalled by the drift to war with Iraq in 2002 and early 2003 and taken aback that there was no real discussion of the wisdom of the decision or of any alternatives in any really serious fashion. He is convinced that the decision to go to war was made by early July 2002. He left the government shortly after the fall of Baghdad.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    This book pretty much confirmed my impressions of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, and how the three and their administrations handled the Middle East. I did learn one thing new, and that is that the war in Iraq did not take troops away from the war in Afghanistan; Haass says that there were more soldiers in reserve for both wars if the Bush administration had chosen to send them. It's honest qualifications like these that make the book seem like a fair analysis. George H. W. This book pretty much confirmed my impressions of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, and how the three and their administrations handled the Middle East. I did learn one thing new, and that is that the war in Iraq did not take troops away from the war in Afghanistan; Haass says that there were more soldiers in reserve for both wars if the Bush administration had chosen to send them. It's honest qualifications like these that make the book seem like a fair analysis. George H. W. Bush's measured character particularly shines in this book, and Bill Clinton's wisdom is also given praise enough to make Haas's moderate conservative point of view seem trustworthy. The bravado and unwillingness to collaborate with the U.N. and other middle eastern partners that took George W. Bush's administration to war and made a debacle of the aftermath makes me really concerned about the kind of rhetoric we are now hearing from Donald Trump. The great take-away from this book is how much we need strong but steady leaders who value diplomacy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Samrat Sen

    Well written book from a policy maker who worked at white house during both the wars. It analyzes the conceptual differences between the 2 wars, how US pushed the rest of world into the 2nd one and what goes inside Washington while deciding and preparing for a war. Paints a nasty picture of George W Bush.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    It is a heavy policy/political book, so not that interesting for the layman, probably. But, I think Haass has the best analysis of the foreign policy that led to the Iraq War 2003. If he were to write a weekly column on foreign policy I would definitely read it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Orlando

    Sometimes the fruit (George W. Bush) falls far from the tree (George H. W. Bush).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Zana Zeqiri

    I loved this book. I read it for a class, but it was the most enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in public diplomacy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    teohjitkhiam

    To paraphrase Suetonius on Augustus, the Dubya inherited a US in marble, went to Iraq, & left both in brick to Obama.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Do

    Great account of the inside deliberations leading up to the two wars.

  17. 5 out of 5

    MarieM

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Crisp

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Scott Grimm

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marion Kipiani

  21. 4 out of 5

    Abdulraouf Defnany

  22. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brendon Martin

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sean T. Devine

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rona Alejo

  26. 5 out of 5

    Derek

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ernesto

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ehholmes

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

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