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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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Civil-Military Relations and the 2006 Iraq Surge

Civil-Military Relations and the 2006 Iraq Surge

(p.314) Chapter 14 Civil-Military Relations and the 2006 Iraq Surge
The Last Card

Kori Schake

Cornell University Press

This chapter challenges the notion that the surge effort emerged from a process characterized by high degrees of internal dysfunction and civil–military discord. Instead, the challenges and frustrations in the Bush administration stemmed primarily from difficulties among the president's civilian advisors, not between civilians and the uniformed military. The president and his closest advisors acknowledged from the outset that removing the bureaucratic impediment of an opposing secretary of defense would be essential and worked that problem in parallel. They allowed misplaced concern about veteran criticism to delay the process, but developing and reaching consensus on the new strategy might have taken as long even without that concern. The president's closest advisors also understood that the president needed a different approach himself to engaging on the issues; he had to become a different kind of commander in chief for the strategy reviews to produce a better outcome in the war. Ultimately, the very different civil–military relationship that produced the 2006 surge was entirely a function of changes on the civilian side of the equation.

Keywords:   surge strategy, civil–military relations, Bush administration, presidential advisors, military, secretary of defense, commander in chief, strategy reviews, Iraq War

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