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22 Nov, 2014

Asia Times Online: A U.S. General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, by Daniel P Bolger

“I am a United States Army general, and I lost the Global War on Terrorism,” Lieutenant-General Daniel Bolger begins his history of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. “It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous; step one is admitting you have a problem. Well, I have a problem. So do my peers. And thanks to our problem, now all of America has a problem, to wit: two lost campaigns and a war gone awry.”

By this, Bolger means that United States generals, notably David Petraeus, sold short-term fixes to baffled political leaders and hatched even worse problems for the future.

Bolger’s point was lost on most reviewers, for example Andrew Bacevich in the New York Times and Mark Moyar in The Wall Street Journal. They protested that civilian leaders deserve at least some of, and perhaps the lion’s share, of the blame.

Bacevich and Moyar have no sense of humor, let alone an ear for irony. By placing the blame on the military, Bolger portrays presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama as woefully misguided. The mission was impossible from the outset. Announcing the 2007 “surge” in response to a Sunni insurgency, president Bush said that the US wanted to turn Iraq into “a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people.”

Read the rest: Asia Times Online: Dumbing it away.