" The Gamble"

( I really am in the middle of my next post on Thomas Jefferson and slavery….I got sidetracked again… )

As I’ve stated in a few forums, and possibly here and there on this site, I was a supporter of President George W. Bush, and of the Iraqi war. I was not, and am not, in favor of a 16 month troop withdrawal deadline. But we as a nation are moving on, there is a new captain at the helm, and I am trying to stay open (minded and -is hearted a word?) Anyway, until this morning I was…

Thomas E. Ricks, senior Pentagon correspondent for the Washington Post and author of The Gamble, was being interviewed by Dick Gregory on ‘Meet the Press’. This is not a book review, and I may or may not get the book (only b/c I have a whole list of titles backed up & waiting for me! to read). But I felt an almost tingling, compelling sense of urgency to re-cap some of this interview here. Though I took notes, I was also trying to pay attention to the actual conversation, so I may be missing some names & exact dates, and I may end up crossing my i’s and dotting my t’s, but I’ll try to be as accurate as I possibly can…

The book’s full title is The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006 – 2008. The title would seem to be based on a summarizing remark made by a former infantry officer (who became a defense analyst for the Center for a New American Security.) Saying that the Iraqi war at best is likely to be ‘inconclusive’, the analyst called the war a ‘huge gamble’ for America, risking her future power and reputation on it. Ricks extrapolates from this statement his own conclusion that as a result of these risks, the Obama administration will need to be taking its own risks and gambles, in such a way as to make the first year of ‘Obama’s war’ even tougher than the last year of ‘Bush’s war’. According to Ricks, (and I agree) “alot of people back here incorrectly think the war is over.” His thinking on this is that we may only be halfway through the war in Iraq. Ricks cites U.S.ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker as saying that the events for which this war will be remembered haven’t even happened yet.

Of great concern to Mr. Ricks are the simultaneous events of a series of Iraqi elections being held during U.S troop withdrawals. When forces are needed most, their numbers will be least. And not only least, but lesser numbers in the more dangerous areas, which we will vacate last, as elections near their culmination.

The author says that while the surge was successful militarily, it was not so politically. The U.S. commander in Iraq, General Odierno, says that the ‘breathing space’ that was created by this strategy, intended to provide opportunity for a national reconciliation, actually allowed for just the opposite. Greater sectarianism has resulted. More division. Odierno says the people have stepped backward.

This General wants to see 35.000 troops left in Iraq – by 2015.

(Ricks states during this interview that there will come a time, during an earlier withdrawal process, when the generals will say, we don’t want to do this, it is too dangerous.)

Too dangerous….2015….issues for extremely serious consideration, as I see it.


Author’s note: For more of this interview, see Transcript .

4 responses to “" The Gamble"

  1. I don’t know that I agree with the author’s point on the surge. I think he is right in that Obama, and probably whoever is president after him, are going to be a little wary about committing troupes. Having said that, Obama has committed to an increase in our military in Afghanistan, and is talking about taking care of Pakistan. I wonder how those “get out of Iraq” Obama supporters feel now.Every other correspondent seems to believe the surge was a success. I would point you to Michael Yon’s blog if you haven’t read it. He is an ex-special forces guy turned reporter. His work tends to focus on things from the foot soldiers point of view. He was very critical of the way the Bush administration handled the war, but very supportive of the surge. He is the most reasoned and unbiased source I have seen reporting in that part of the world.

  2. When Ricks made the statement about the surge, I was surprised, b/c I’d been under the impression, as you said, that most viewed it as a success. But Ricks’ statement is based on Gen. Odierno’s report of the situation, so for that reason I’m assuming it’s true, at least to a degree? And, yeah, ya gotta almost smile, like an “I told you so’, re/Obama’s moving towards, not away from Afghan/Pakistani issues. Essentially, it’s all the same war.Thanks for the fyi on Michael Yon. Either I read a review (you did?) on his book “Moment of Truth in Iraq”, or came across it elsewhere b/c it’s on my short list of books to get. I checked out the blog yest., putting a shortcut on my desktop…

  3. "only b/c I have a whole list of titles backed up & waiting for me! to read"…is this not the real definition of the surge? Yes, secretly depending on you and AD, et al… to read all of it for me… selfish, yes. But so far; so good. Atta Gurl! u 2 Andy D.

  4. Moo_P, I thought I was the only one who knew the what the surge really was! And, you’ll have much better luck depending on AndyD’s reading ’em all, than on me….he devours books like I do chocolate.But in my defense, I am juggling 5 different books on Th.Jefferson right now, so….

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