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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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PRINTED FROM Cornell University Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.cornell.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Cornell University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in Cornell for personal use. date: 17 September 2021

Blood, Treasure, and Time

Blood, Treasure, and Time

Strategy-Making for the Surge

(p.277) Chapter 12 Blood, Treasure, and Time
The Last Card

Richard K. Betts

Cornell University Press

This chapter places the surge decision in the context of the broader history of the Iraq War and offers a modestly positive appraisal. Indeed, the surge is only important in how it affected the overall project of the American war in Iraq. The significant question is whether the history of the surge offers lessons beyond itself, or at least whether the surge was decisive for achieving US objectives. The chapter then examines various dilemmas and challenges that the war occasioned—of relating strategy to both operations and politics; of promoting democratization in Iraq while also seeking some control over Iraqi decision making; and of seeking to exert presidential command over a complex decision-making process. It argues that the surge decision reflected a “delicate and skillful exercise in leadership” given civil-military tensions, but questions how well the surge answered the broader strategic questions surrounding American involvement.

Keywords:   Iraq War, surge strategy, US objectives, politics, democratization, Iraqi decision making, presidential command, decision-making process, military leadership, American involvement

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