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Book Reviews
Cobra II by Michael Gordan and General Bernard E Trainor
reviewed by Marc Schulman

Michael Gordon and General Bernard Trainer have produced a 500 page indictment of the US war effort in Iraq.  Their book is subtitled the Inside Story of the Invasion and Occuptation of Iraq.  The book concentrates on the misconceptions that policy makers made leading up to the war, focusing on the decision not to send enough troops as well as the total lack of preparation for the administration of the country.  The authors break down a number of key areas of mistakes that the administration made.  The first was totally misreading of the enemy The American military was prepared to fight the Republican Guard in a conventional war.  Instead they found Fedayen commandos firing from Toyota jeeps.  They also misread the politics of Iraq, assuming that if they only seized Baghdad the political center of country they would gain total control of the country.  The second mistake was an over reliance on technology.  Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was wedded to the transformation of the armed forces into a high tech highly mobile organization, which used Special Forces and technology to accomplish the most with a small number of troops.  That worked fine on the march to Baghdad- when it came to secure the country after the initial victory however, what was needed was boots on the ground- something that was not available.  The Third major failure was the failure to adopt.  When it became clear early in the war that it was not Republican Guard who was to be US’s major opponents but the Fedayen the troops in the field adopted but the theater commanders and the Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld fair to do so.  The authors also believed that while the military command structure was suited for fighting the war it was not organized for what came after.  That according to the authors was another example of the fundamental flaw in the effort and that was governed by the general disdain that the Bush administration held for nation building.  This disdain led the administration to do nothing to substantially prepare for the occupation and rebuilding of the country.  If you want to read a searing indictment of the planning and conduct of the war read Cobra II.  If you want however to read an exhaustive history of the war this is not the book.

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