The Gamble

The Gamble

General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008

Book - 2009
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Fiasco , Thomas E. Ricks's #1 New York Times bestseller, transformed the political dialogue on the war in Iraq-- The Gamble is the next news breaking installment

Thomas E. Ricks uses hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with top officers in Iraq and extraordinary on-the-ground reportage to document the inside story of the Iraq War since late 2005 as only he can, examining the events that took place as the military was forced to reckon with itself, the surge was launched, and a very different war began.

Since early 2007 a new military order has directed American strategy. Some top U.S. officials now in Iraq actually opposed the 2003 invasion, and almost all are severely critical of how the war was fought from then through 2006. At the core of the story is General David Petraeus, a military intellectual who has gathered around him an unprecedented number of officers with both combat experience and Ph.D.s. Underscoring his new and unorthodox approach, three of his key advisers are quirky foreigners--an Australian infantryman-turned- anthropologist, an antimilitary British woman who is an expert in the Middle East, and a Mennonite-educated Palestinian pacifist.

The Gamble offers news-breaking account, revealing behind-the-scenes disagreements between top commanders. We learn that almost every single officer in the chain of command fought the surge. Many of Petraeus's closest advisers went to Iraq extremely pessimistic, doubting that the surge would have any effect, and his own boss was so skeptical that he dispatched an admiral to Baghdad in the summer of 2007 to come up with a strategy to replace Petraeus's. That same boss later flew to Iraq to try to talk Petraeus out of his planned congressional testimony. The Gamble examines the congressional hearings through the eyes of Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and their views of the questions posed by the 2008 presidential candidates.

For Petraeus, prevailing in Iraq means extending the war. Thomas E. Ricks concludes that the war is likely to last another five to ten years--and that that outcome is a best case scenario. His stunning conclusion, stated in the last line of the book, is that "the events for which the Iraq war will be remembered by us and by the world have not yet happened."

Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2009.
ISBN: 9781594201974
Branch Call Number: 956.7044340973 RIC
Characteristics: 394 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


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LRS1969 Mar 04, 2015

That should read "Petraeus idolization"... but the process for some reason will not let me fix an "auto correct fail".

LRS1969 Nov 29, 2014

I wonder what Ricks would think today? American combat forces long gone (the withdrawal of same negotiated by the Bush administration before leaving office and the Iraqi National Government - who actually wanted us out of there even earlier!). I realize that while this book has a publication dare of 2009, that it was basically written in 2007 and 2008.... yet with his contacts Ricks should have been aware of the fact that we were going to be completely out of there (minus some trainers and logistics coordinators) in just a couple of years.

Some of the comments in regards Iraq's future, seen in that light, are ridiculous. His "experts" who were so reassuring completely missed on ISIS / ISIL / Islamic State (which flared into being just a couple years after the withdrawal from Iraq... which was a necessity seeing as to the democratically elected government's desires).

So Petraeus (and his slavish supporters) aside, we are once again involved in Iraq - AND also Syria now. And, with the fading of "stars" like Petraeus and McChrystal, still - as back then - fumbling through the dark, wondering at just WHAT is the long term strategy.

For a related review, see the book "Fourth Star" by Jaffe.

March 2015 Update:

Ricks - who should definitely know better (see his award winning "Fiasco") - also gets caught up in the Petraeus PR machine and ultra conservative fan club braying (after all, the Surge was nothing more than a temporary purchase of some very minor breathing room to allow us to pull out in a timetable negotiated by the Iraqi National Government with the Bush Administration - with the ING wanting us out even sooner!

Like so many other militant types this author has a Petraeus civilization fixation (similar to the mythology of great generalship this sprung up relating to CSA General Robert E. Lee).

Yet Petraeus, while personally intelligent, in fact was not militarily brilliant nor particularly savvy (repeating a myth often enough does NOT make it Truth)... though he indeed was one of the Perfumed Princes who believes absolutely in the Three Ps: Power, Perks, and Privileges!

EVERYTHING that Petraeus did in his military and post military life has had one and only one agenda - to do what is right for Petraeus and his personal benefit. Entitlement is an expectation of his (which he got even in "the end"... a deal that converts multiple severe felonies demanding decades of imprisonment down to one misdemeanor that carries no jail time and allows him to maintain his oligarchic and highly wealthy post treasonous career!).

So much for his oft repeated claims of innocence. And this is the deal if the century. He should have been prosecuted for every count and once convicted, sentenced to life without parole in Leavenworth!

"Petraeus Takes Plea Deal"

Feb 22, 2010

very thorough review of how Petraeus and his supporters turned around a tough situation in Iraq, but Ricks needed to add more about his outlook for the country given the problems that remain, perhaps the US should send Bush and Cheney there to fix the mess they created

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