AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: Fiasco: The American Adventure In Iraq, 2003 to 2005 by Thomas E. Ricks

For amateur history buffs, this is a must read. Written nearly a decade ago, it is (in my never to be humble opinion) an honest, sincere, and unbiased account of the Second Iraq War. The book is even more important now than when it was published in 2007.

Like all history books that are read with the benefit of hindsight, Fiasco has an accuracy that is rarely seen or heard in our 24-hour cable news environment. While this book could be deemed critical of the George W. Bush administration and its approach to the war, for me and for this blog, the criticism is secondary. Bear with me, gentle reader; let me explain.

While I did not serve in this war, I did serve as a Marine. It is from that perspective that I approach this book’s subject. Whether you agree with the reasons the United States invaded Iraq is irrelevant. To the many who lost loved ones, the reasons are irrelevant. What is relevant is that the soldiers are gone. Never to be hugged, kissed, talked to or depended upon again. I wish to address here the sacrifice that they and their families made for their country, for something bigger than themselves.

Ricks’ book is a cautionary tale that all leaders and future leaders–college and high school students–should read and take notice of. Our mistakes and missteps are too numerous to acknowledge here, and that is why reading or listening to this book is so important.

It is also the reason that the sacrifice that so many made is more important than blame-laying.

I’m sorry for repeating myself here, but I tend to do this. Follow me as I get back on track. When I was an active-duty member of the Marine Corps, I wore this T-shirt that read “when the wolf is scratching at the door, call the United States Marines Corps”. Essentially the message here is that young men and women will answer the call to defend their country. Their reasons will be wide and varied, but the result of this volunteerism is what keeps this country free. Yes, we are free.

Why do so many people of every creed and color and ethnicity try so damn hard to get into America?

Whether on a foreign or domestic policy level, republics make mistakes. The last decade will be something this country and its elected leaders will be learning from for years to come. (One hopes, anyway.) Those lessons learned will make it possible to better serve those who choose to serve us.

I am loath to get political here but I must make a point or two. The subject of this book is about the actual conduction of the war and the aftermath, and the criticisms are correct, in my view. The initial reasons for the invasion are suspect. Furthermore, those reasons are often clouded by post-911 politics. The attacks on that day were strategically successful, in that they clouded the minds of many of our leaders–not just in the White House, but also in the halls of Congress. Let’s not forget that majorities in both Houses gave the Bush administration permission to invade Iraq. Nary a one has been held accountable for that decision, unless one considers Hillary Clinton’s loss to Obama in the Democratic nomination process.

While the conduct of the war is rightly blamed on the administration that controlled our armed forces, we need to look at the lack of “A Profile in Courage” on Capitol Hill. Most important, the politicians’ incompetence must never reflect on those men and women who answered the call when their country called. They sacrificed their lives, limbs and sanity to do what they believed was right: to protect their country from further attacks. For that they should be held in high esteem.

Read Fiasco. It is extremely important to the future of this country and to those we ask to defend it. Will done, Ricks.