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Cobra II

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Cobra II

The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq

Pantheon Books,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Going to war is a nation's biggest gamble. It is also the source for a nation's biggest mistakes. For example, take Iraq.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


Discussion of the Iraq War focuses as much on politics as on combat, and the debate about its management will continue for decades. This contentious global event mixes bad intelligence, bad politics, bad planning, huge antagonistic personalities and a smattering of good intentions. Authors Michael R. Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor describe the power and limitations of new technologies, and detail the war’s history, battles and personalities. Their gripping battle accounts have the power of a war novel. The Iraq conflict suffered from the fog of war that plagued almost every other modern clash, so discerning clear policy motives is difficult. Few heroes emerged from the halls of adminstration, where leaders bitterly disagreed with each other and with many in the outside world. Understanding this complex global event requires mastering many social and economic forces. getAbstract finds that this large, well-researched volume is – so far – the indispensable, definitive source on the Iraq War.


Beyond Afghanistan

Shortly after September 11, 2001, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld decided the US had to pursue Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld knew the pursuit would not stop there. Early plans for war on Iraq called for as many as 500,000 troops, and months of preparation. In an early meeting, Rumsfeld said he thought it could be done faster, with fewer troops. He told General Tommy Franks to prepare a new war plan, but had Department of Defense civilians supervise him.

Rumsfeld envisioned a new approach to war, using the post-Persian Gulf War mobile, powerful military. That war took six months of planning. Contrary to well-prepared advice from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Rumsfeld continued to advocate a faster Iraq engagement based on better technology and intelligence, and fewer troops. He clearly indicated that he’d keep tight control over the Pentagon, even reducing the size of the Joint Chief’s staff.

Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush made Iraq their central target. They ignored advice from former President Bill Clinton, who said that US foreign policy priorities should be Al Qaeda, Mid-East diplomacy, North Korea and missile proliferation...

About the Authors

Michael R. Gordon is the chief military correspondent for The New York Times, and has covered several wars. He and retired General Bernard E. Trainor, also co-wrote The General’s War. Trainer, also a former Times military correspondent and former director of National Security Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, is a military analyst for NBC.

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    B. D. 1 decade ago
    There is one mistake with this summary. It states that during the 1991 war, when Powell chaired the Joint Chiefs, Cheney often cut him out of discussions by going through Rumsfeld to then-President George H.W. Bush. Correction: Rumsfeld never worked for Bush 41 and Bush 41 never hired him for any post. They were rivals of sorts.
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      1 decade ago
      Thanks, Brian, and kudos to your history knowledge. We'll check this out immediately and post a corrected summary. We appreciate your feedback and your information. Erica Rauzin, Managing Editor, getAbstract