Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and Its Aftermath.

Author:Cotter, Michael

This case study prepared by a senior professor at the National Defense University's (NDU) Institute for National Strategic Studies, should be required reading for everyone interested not only in the conduct of the Iraq War but also those interested in improving the function of the U.S. Government's national security apparatus. Although written in November 2007, the study was just released by NDU this month. The author, Dr. Joseph Collins, is a retired military officer who as a civilian served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations from 2001 to 2003. He knows whereof he speaks.

His study contains detailed information on the actions leading up to the war, on the war planning process, and on the mistakes made in not adequately addressing the post-conflict phase. Though unstinting in his criticism, Dr. Collins is unwilling to assess individual blame, noting that many major players have yet to provide their insights.

More important than the criticisms, many of which in any event restate what has been published ad nauseum elsewhere (although seldom so succinctly and to the point), is Dr. Collins extensive list of the challenges facing the U.S. in the national security area and his recommendations on how to improve interagency planning. Of particular interest to those interested in the...

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