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I've been wrong twice about Iraq. Supported the invasion. Opposed the Surge. (I also tend to think a military solution to stopping Iran from getting a nuclear bomb might be necessary - so it is a good thing that nobody listens to my thinking on the military). Ricks', "The Gamble" follows up on his masterfully depressing "Fiasco" - detailing everything that went wrong in Iraq before General Petraeus took over. What I had not realized about the Petraeus strategy was the force in which the rest of the armed forces opposed this plan, or the degree to which Petraeus was a marginal figure within the military establishment.
In order to move to a strategy where the Iraqi people were "the prize" rather then the "playing field", Petraeus had to reverse many of the Army's (one of our largest and most conservative institutions) culture and doctrine on war fighting. As I was reading "The Gamble" I kept thinking of how we need someone like Petraeus in other institutions....education, car building, maybe newspapers? Ricks' conclusion is that while the Surge was the right thing to do, a tactical success, it does not represent a strategic victory. We are in for the "long war" in Iraq, with the most salient events of the war still ahead of us.
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