War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars

Richard N. Haass, Author . Simon & Schuster $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4165-4902-4

Haass (The Opportunity ), president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell, offers a combination of memoir and analysis on two wars that, he says, began in 1990: Desert Storm, the response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Haass describes Saddam's attack on Kuwait as undertaken in the face of U.S. efforts to persuade him to stand down. The 2003 war emerges as a consequence of 9/11, a “radical” initiative to oust Saddam and restructure the Middle East. In a pattern common to senior advisers without ultimate responsibility for decisions, Haass repeatedly describes perceptive memoranda ignored and perceptive insights rejected by those at the levers of power. He claims neither prescience nor precognition. Instead he presents himself as a realist and a moderate, preferring diplomacy to force while recognizing the necessary synergy of soft and hard power. Haass concludes that the first war succeeded because its limited aims were accomplished: Iraq was defeated and Kuwait's sovereignty restored. Whether or not Iraq eventually stabilizes, the second war ultimately failed because it was neither necessary, desirable nor just. Bungled execution only highlighted the waste of finite moral and material resources. Wars of choice are not inevitably mistaken, Haass concludes, but they are best avoided. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-4165-4903-1
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4391-6570-6
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