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The Last CardInside George W. Bush's Decision to Surge in Iraq $
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Timothy Sayle, Jeffrey A. Engel, Hal Brands, and William Inboden

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501715181

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501715181.001.0001

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Choosing to Surge

Choosing to Surge

December 2006

(p.153) Chapter 7 Choosing to Surge
The Last Card
Timothy Andrews Sayle, Jeffrey A. Engel, Hal Brands, William Inboden
Cornell University Press

This chapter traces a series of climactic meetings of the National Security Council in December of 2006. By December, Vice President Dick Cheney thought it was “pretty clear that we've got to do something different than what we've been doing. December was then devoted to sort of nailing down what that was going to be.” The president and his advisors discussed fundamental issues regarding American goals and responsibilities in Iraq and increasingly concluded that only a surge option, as part of a change in military strategy and an effort at bottom-up political reconciliation in Iraq, could salvage the American mission there. That same month, the president visited the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their meeting room to hear and address their concerns about whether an intensified military effort in Iraq might overtax the US military and even “break the force.” In December, too, public discussion about the American future in Iraq was fueled by reports from the congressionally mandated Iraq Study Group, which advocated for a regional diplomatic strategy to help quell violence in Iraq, as well as from the American Enterprise Institute, which advocated increasing US forces in Iraq and pursuing a proper counterinsurgency strategy. The impact of these external reviews on the eventual surge decision remains hotly debated; the chapter helps place these efforts within the context of the internal administration policy process and Bush's decision making.

Keywords:   National Security Council, Dick Cheney, Iraq, military strategy, US military, Iraq Study Group, American Enterprise Institute, counterinsurgency, George W. Bush

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