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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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The Bush Administration’s Decision to Surge in Iraq

The Bush Administration’s Decision to Surge in Iraq

A Long and Winding Road

(p.328) Chapter 15 The Bush Administration’s Decision to Surge in Iraq
The Last Card

Richard H. Immerman

Cornell University Press

This chapter argues—using the Eisenhower administration as a model of peacetime national security decision making—that the surge decision-making process displayed by the oral histories was idiosyncratic, excessively compartmentalized, and profoundly flawed. No president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has fully adopted his model, and each has tailored procedures appropriate for his needs. The Bush process had to take into account his lack of expertise in military affairs, an increasingly polarized political climate, the legacy of the Vietnam War, the proliferation of leaks of sensitive information in the new media age, the resistance of the uniformed military leadership, and most important, Rumsfeld. Administration insiders argue that for these reasons Bush jettisoned fundamental tenets of Eisenhower's system in an effort to make a virtue out of necessity. Yet the evidence suggests that Eisenhower's best practices are just that—best practices. It further suggests that their rigorous application would have benefited Bush's process by expediting the instigation of a comprehensive review, co-opting opponents of a change in strategy, mitigating politicization, facilitating the exchange of information and advice, and accelerating implementation.

Keywords:   Eisenhower administration, national security decision making, surge strategy, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bush administration, strategy review, George W. Bush, military leadership

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