They say journalism is a first draft of history and that’s very much what Fred Barnes has managed to achieve in this fascinating account of how the Iraq strategy changed from “train and leave” (and if that meant America’s mission in Iraq would end in failure, so be it) to refusing to accept defeat and boldly pursuing victory (through population protection, classic counterinsurgency operations, and going on the attack against al-Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias in Iraq).
One footnote: Barnes reports that just before Robert Gates took over as Secretary of Defense, he informed Bush that “as a member of the Baker-Hamilton Commission, he favored a surge of additional troops in Iraq.”
As a member of the “expert advisory group” to the Baker-Hamilton Commission, I can tell you that a surge – or any robust military approach – was something few of my colleagues favored. Indeed, most opposed it with astonishing vehemence.
Even now many members of this group do not acknowledge the success of the revised Iraq strategy and give little credit to General Petraeus (and none to President Bush.)