The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 (英語) ハードカバー – 2008/9/8
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As violence in Iraq reaches unnerving levels in 2006, a second front in the war rages at the highest levels of the Bush administration. In his fourth book on President George W. Bush, Bob Woodward takes readers deep inside the tensions, secret debates, unofficial backchannels, distrust and determination within the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the intelligence agencies and the U.S. military headquarters in Iraq. With unparalleled intimacy and detail, this gripping account of a president at war describes a period of distress and uncertainty within the U.S. government from 2006 through mid-2008. The White House launches a secret strategy review that excludes the military. General George Casey, the commander in Iraq, believes that President Bush does not understand the war and eventually concludes he has lost the president's confidence. The Joint Chiefs of Staff also conduct a secret strategy review that goes nowhere. On the verge of revolt, they worry that the military will be blamed for a failure in Iraq.Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice strongly opposes a surge of additional U.S. forces and confronts the president, who replies that her suggestions would lead to failure. The president keeps his decision to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld from Vice President Dick Cheney until two days before he announces it. A retired Army general uses his high-level contacts to shape decisions about the war, as Bush and Cheney use him to deliver sensitive messages outside the chain of command. For months, the administration's strategy reviews continue in secret, with no deadline and no hurry, in part because public disclosure would harm Republicans in the November 2006 elections. National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley tells Rice, "We've got to do it under the radar screen because the electoral season is so hot.""The War Within" provides an exhaustive account of the struggles of General David Petraeus, who takes over in Iraq during one of the bleakest and most violent periods of the war. It reveals how breakthroughs in military operations and surveillance account for much of the progress as violence in Iraq plummets in the middle of 2007.Woodward interviewed key players, obtained dozens of never-before-published documents, and had nearly three hours of exclusive interviews with President Bush. The result is a stunning, firsthand history of the years from mid-2006, when the White House realizes the Iraq strategy is not working, through the decision to surge another 30,000 U.S. troops in 2007, and into mid-2008, when the war becomes a fault line in the presidential election."The War Within" addresses head-on questions of leadership, not just in war but in how we are governed and the dangers of unwarranted secrecy.
"More than mere anecdotal detail, this is the stuff of history... The fine detail is wonderfully illuminating, and cumulatively these books may be the best record we will ever get of the events they cover... They stand as the fullest story yet of the Bush presidency and of the war that is likely to be its most important legacy."-- Jill Abramson, "The New York Times Book Review"商品の説明をすべて表示する
This is a book about the Bush Administration's change of policy with respect to Iraq. It begins before the elections of 2006, when things were falling apart in Iraq. Even stalwart Republican Senators began to question the war and the Administration's policy regarding it. Even while the President was telling the country that progress was being made, several evaluations of policy were occurring simultaneously (and not always informing one another): the military evaluation, centered on a platoon of colonels assessing matters; Stephen Hadley's examination (he was National Security Advisor); the Iraq Study Group, led by James Baker and Lee Hamilton; a group headed by Meghan O'Sullivan. One thing that is clear from all the groups' examination of the status of the Iraq war--things were not working. Generals and Administration figures were speaking positively of the war, and these various groups were telling a far different story. In fact, the President, saying one thing in public, had come to embrace the perspective of Hadley and others. Things began to happen--Donald Rumsfeld was replaced by Robert Gates at Defense; the concept of the "surge" began to gain some degree of support.
Some of the high points: discussions of the President's own thinking (based on interviews with Woodward), inside accounts of meetings among military leaders and war critics, within the Iraq Study Group, and so on. At the end of the book, Woodward notes how this book builds on his third in a series on the Bush presidency, "State of Denial." He notes how, in that work, how the President was not openly acknowledging problems in Iraq and the deterioration of conditions on the ground. As Woodward said in the final passages in that book (Page 433 in "The War Within"): "With all Bush's upbeat talk and optimism. . .he had not told the American public the truth about what Iraq had become." He goes on to say "My reporting for this book showed that to be even more the case than I could have imagined."
His final evaluation (Page 437): "There was no deadline, no hurry [in the President's leadership on Iraq]. The president was engaged in the war rhetorically but maintained an odd detachment from its management. He never got a handle on it, and over these years of war, too often he failed to lead." Fairly bracing language from Woodward. Does he make the case? I think that that judgment should be left to each reader. Whatever one might think of Woodward and the president, this book does spark thinking about the subject.
So much of this book chronicled the road to the Surge in Iraq. Early on President Bush wanted the Surge but almost nobody else did. Several panels, committees and prominent advisors were tasked with figuring out whether to surge, maintain or drawdown in Iraq. All of them tried to influence Bush not to surge, but Bush had his mind made up early on. I believe it turned out that the surge was correct, although the war itself remains extraordinarily controversial. The costs for the war, as Woodward points out, are born by those not responsible for the decision to go to war. In particular, those in the military and their families had to pay a high price and they will for the remainder of their lives.
In this book, Woodward revealed a Bush that I didn't know. Bush showed himself as pretty agile in his responses to others. Given the delivery of his speeches over the years, where often each word is pronounced as if not part of a sentence, this side of Bush surprised me.
Woodward was not privy to why the Surge worked because the methods used were secret.
There were many interesting parts of the book that bear mentioning but I'll limit myself to one. The one I have in mind was when Bill Clinton arrived at the West Wing to meet with one of the blue ribbon groups that discussed in vain how to get through to Bush. Clinton explained to this bipartisan group that Bush was in the war not for politics but for belief. Therefore appeals to Bush on the basis of politics would not work. The group was greatly impressed with Clinton's views.
I think this was a very balanced book and not boring at all. Unfortunately, Woodward lacked the kind of access needed.
I particularly appreciated the parts of the book devoted to Meghan O'Sullivan's role, who was seen by several elements in the administration as someone who was undercutting their authority. The reality was, her role was to describe what was happening on the ground, the real situation. Tome after tome has been written about Iraq, a lot of it being simply finger pointing, but little about what was actually being accomplished. The State Department was completely cut out of any postwar planning until several years had passed.