NR Digital

Managing War

by Mackubin Thomas Owens

A Vulcan’s Tale: How the Bush Administration Mismanaged the Reconstruction of Afghanistan, by Dov S. Zakheim (Brookings, 320 pp., $32.95)

As Cicero observed in his Fifth Philippic, “money forms the sinews of war.” Of course, money is never limitless, and wars have foundered on this fact. Any strategy that ignores resource constraints is destined to fail.

This reality is driven home by Dov Zakheim in his important and informative new book, A Vulcan’s Tale. From his perspective as under secretary of defense (comptroller) in the Bush administration — “the guy holding the checkbook” — Zakheim provides a useful overview of the administration’s approach to the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a useful supplement to other recent memoirs by major actors in the post-9/11 drama, most notably Donald Rumsfeld.

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