It took the better part of a trans-Atlantic flight, but I finally finished The Gamble. What I find most admirable about Ricks’s book is that it manages to paint an incredibly bleak (and to my mind, realistic) picture of the future of the U.S. endeavour in Iraq while at the same time giving credit for the success of the surge to those who deserve it.
In a twist of fate only armed conflict can bring about, many of us who opposed the war now find ourselves siding with its architects, who keep sounding the alarm on withdrawal plans they think are reckless. Ricks:
Even as security improved in Iraq in 2008, I found myself consistently saddened by the war, not just by its obvious costs to Iraqis and Americans, but also by the incompetence and profligacy with which the Bush administration conducted much of it. Yet I also came to believe that we can’t leave.
Unlike, ahem, some others, Ricks is not a moralist, but I liked the fact that he lets Crocker have the last word:
‘What the world ultimately thinks about us and what we think about ourselves […] I think is going to be determined much more by what happens from now on than what’s happened up to now.’
Again — my thoughts exactly.