The Long War
- The Gamble: General Petraeus and the Untold Story of the American Surge in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks
Allen Lane, 394 pp, £25.00, February 2009, ISBN 978 1 84614 145 4
Thomas Ricks’s Fiasco, published in 2006, was a scathing account of the invasion and occupation of Iraq; The Gamble covers the ‘surge’ that pulled Iraq back from the edge of the abyss. By 2006, with Bush still insisting that the war was going swimmingly and the Pentagon keen to hand the war over to the Iraqis, it seemed that the US was heading for a catastrophic defeat. If it proceeded with plans to pull out, many observers felt certain that Iraq would descend into chaos. Failure, they warned, would discredit the entire enterprise known as the war on terror or, in Pentagon-speak, the Long War. To save the Long War – and shield from scrutiny the desire for continued global leadership (or hegemony) that hinged on its success – it was essential to avert outright defeat in Iraq. This was the real reason for the surge. Thomas Donnelly, a senior fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and one of those who had the idea of the surge, explained that its purpose was to establish ‘a rationale for keeping the United States in the war’.