"Chilling--and often scathing--detail . . . Should be read by anyone interested in understanding why the United States' quick military victory has given way to an increasingly virulent insurgency."--The New York TimesIn the fall of 2003, Stanford professor Larry Diamond received a call from Condoleezza Rice, asking if he would spend several months in Baghdad as an adviser"Chilling--and often scathing--detail . . . Should be read by anyone interested in understanding why the United States' quick military victory has given way to an increasingly virulent insurgency."--The New York TimesIn the fall of 2003, Stanford professor Larry Diamond received a call from Condoleezza Rice, asking if he would spend several months in Baghdad as an adviser to the American occupation authorities. Diamond had not been a supporter of the war in Iraq, but he felt that the task of building a viable democracy was a worthy goal. But when he went to Iraq, his experiences proved to be more of an education than he bargained for.Squandered Victory is Diamond's provocative and vivid account of how the American effort to establish democracy in Iraq was hampered not only by insurgents and terrorists but also by a long chain of miscalculations, missed opportunities, and acts of ideological blindness that helped assure that the transition to independence would be neither peaceful nor entirely democratic. And in a new Afterword for the paperback edition, Diamond shows how the ongoing instability in Iraq is a direct result of the shortsighted choices made during the fourteen months of the American occupation and the subsequent Iraqi interim government."A forceful and detailed critique of the invasion's aftermath. . . . A searing indictment." --The Wall Street Journal"Larry Diamond has a flair for making incisive points at the right moment. . . . [Squandered Victory] explodes with the frustrations he felt working for the U.S. occupation." --The New Republic...
|Title||:||Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq|
|Number of Pages||:||416 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq Reviews
Imperative to read to understand why and how the United States screwed up in its efforts to "democratize" Iraq. You cannot force democracy on a country at gun point, and this book explains that. Somewhat technical and dry at times, but overall extremely interesting and helpful in understanding geopolitical machinations.
A detailed and interesting account of law and constitution building in Iraq from 2003-2005. The book's title makes it seem broader than it is. Diamond does cover issues like the rise of the insurgency, the breakdown in order following the invasion, and various American mistakes. However, the book's focus is really on the drafting of various laws, structures, and constitutions to transition from American occupation to Iraqi sovereignty. This is where the book is really valuable. Diamond is an expert on global democratization who had an intimate role in working with Iraqis to draft these laws. He explains this byzantine (or Mesopotamian? sorry) process quite clearly and compellingly. Diamond puts forth a broad criticism of America's handling of the occupation, pointing to de-Baathification, the dismissal of the army and the police, the failure to restore order post-invasion, the failure to reach out to key political players like Sistani and the Sunni in general, and Bremer's declaration of an occupation that wrote most Iraqis out of meaningful roles in politics. One shocking theme in this book is the extent of the ignorant political appointees like Bremer and Garner had about the countries they were virtually the viceroys of.In his compelling last chapter, Diamond asks if democracy can come to Iraq at some point. He does note (and it is impossible to ignore) that almost every issue in postwar IQ politics, including the constitution-drafting he was involved in, broke down on strictly ethnic lines. This only got worse as time went on. Still, Diamond makes the interesting point that federal democracies can be a good way of creating power-sharing agreements among fairly well-separated (socially and geographically) groups that can't see a path to victory through fighting or full political domination. Historically the existence of armed social/ethnic camps who are exhausted by fighting can often lead to liberal agreements such as the Peace of Westphalia and the general principle of religious tolerance. I can't say this argument gave me a lot of solace in Iraq. One major problem, of course, is oil distribution among the three ethnic groups. Another is the position of Baghdad and Kirkuk. Of course, Diamond finished this book in 2005 before things got really bad in IQ and way before IS and the rise of a blatantly sectarian Shia-dominated state. What comes across powerfully in this book is that American and Iraqi efforts to create democratic constitutional structures in Iraq rested on exceedingly thin ice, and the main problem was the deep divides between the ethnic groups. As of now, this problem appears to have only become worse. Diamond's book reflects the relative optimism of the 2005-ish situation in Iraq, but unfortunately the efforts to build democracy were overcome by the tidal wave of sectarian hatred. Still, this book is worth reading for anyone interested in the Iraq conflict, especially those who have found the constitution-forming and transition periods confusing.
Larry Diamond's "Squandered Victory" is interesting but also somewhat disappointing. Diamond was among those Americans who went to Iraq after the invasion to try to support democratization. One of the sadder aspects of this book is the author's confidence that his forays into the Iraqi community to lead discussions on democracy had any chance of success. As one reads the volume, the optimism seems to have been misplaced (especially given our knowledge of what has happened over time) that it leads me to think of the author as somewhat naive (believing that meetings with small groups of Iraqis could make much of a difference, based on the larger context in Iraq; and I am familiar with and respect his other scholarly work on democracy). Nonetheless, there are useful insights in this volume. On a number of occasions, he notes the likelihood that the key figures in the Administration's Iraqi policy group were caught up in "groupthink," where they lost their ability to be self-critical. On page 205, he observes that "But by now I had become accustomed to this kind of internal spin and groupthink." A similar reflection occurs on page 291. Poignant was Condoleezza Rice's alleged nonresponse to his feedback to her on his assignment. This was his attempt to pass on to her the lessons that he saw as a result of his experiences in Iraq. All in all, a volume on Iraq that helped to provide context when iut was published; it adds a useful component to the full set of books on Iraq. The title, "Squandered Victory," however, suggests that the American adventure was winnable at the get go. Given the poor after war planning and the inherent religious and cultural fissures in Iraq itself, this is debatable. Nonetheless, a good addition to one's Iraq library. . . .
How did this book even get on my radar? I was supposed to have read it over the past semester for my IR in the Middle East class-- I chose it specifically for its name: Squandered Victory. Sounded intense. Obviously wasn't read in time for the final exam. Oops.It was intense. And extremely informative, if not obsessively so at times. I learned so much about the immediate post-war environment in Iraq-- it was both fascinating and terrifying at the same time. I was not and am not a supporter of American involvement in the ME-- it is largely driven by imperial motives in my view. But this book helped me to critically understand the mistakes we made in Iraq, so that my scorn could have some legit backing. Unfortunately, Diamond could be extremely repetitive at times and sometimes didn't get the concept of the temporal (he jumped back and forth so much! I wanted a basic timeline instead). But overall, an interesting read-- it inspired a desire to learn more and more.Some highlights:"This mission has been underresourced from the start," he exclaimed angrily. -- not rocket science, but I loved seeing the dreary reality of the situation."The war planners were not willing to consider any option that would slow the rush to war, or require from the American people a larger mobilization and greater degree of sacrafice than the Bush administration's desire to have it all: a war to topple the pivotal figure in its declared 'axis of evil,' a normal life in the US, and a sweeping program of tax cuts. With biting satire, the columnist Thomas Friedman called this approach, 'We're at war-- let's party.'"-- best sum-up EVER.
The author is an expert on democratization processes at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. The book Squandered Victory is based on his time working in the Coalition Provisional Authority resulting from his association with a former Stanford University Professor, former National Security Advisor and current Secretary of State, Ms. Condoleezza Rice. Larry Diamond had written several journal articles before the Iraq War and his book was a reflection of his time in Iraq.
Read Assassin's Gate or Emerald City and not this book. Packer is too much the professor to write a really engaging read of personalities behind the scenes. A very worthy effort, but for policy wonks and historians.
excellent book, you will be able to understand what went wrong with the war in Iraq from an insider's point of view.
A very readable and highly accurate account of the many mistakes made during the intial American occupation of Iraq.