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October 25-31, 2006

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'Blind Into Baghdad: America's War in Iraq'

Blind Into Baghdad: America's War in Iraq
(By James Fallows; Vintage; 256 pages; $13.95 paper)

A whole cottage industry of books dissecting the Bush administration's failures in Iraq has sprung up. James Fallows' Blind Into Baghdad really earns its "I told you so" laurels, since it collects Fallows' essays for the Atlantic Monthly from 2002 to 2005, in which he exposed with surprising prescience our planning—or nonplanning—for the conflict. A beltway insider, Fallows relies on extensive interviews with policy wonks and military analysts. From the beginning, Fallows writes, the Bushites exhibited an inability to "imagine the long-term consequences of war." In a January 2004 interview with Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy almost boasts about Donald Rumsfeld's aversion to planning—he is, Feith says, "death to predictions. His big strategic theme is uncertainty." And yet, as Fallows uncovers, plenty of people in the government did make solid predictions about the possibility of disorder and chaos in the aftermath of the invasion, most particularly the Army War College's report "Reconstructing Iraq." In a brief Afterword, Fallows assesses the fallout and concludes that "the very people who were most insistent on the need to invade Iraq were the most negligent about what would happen next."

Review by Michael S. Gant


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