Monday, August 11, 2014

"The Assassins' Gate" non-fiction from 2005 by George Packer

Maybe four months ago I bought three non-fiction books that were meant to give deeper insight into the U.S.morass of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.  Of course there have long been opinions here as noted in first in the ENS post on February 1, 2006 that was meant to be seen as a speech that Bush should have given if he wanted to honestly explain why were in Iraq, or in fact if he knew the answer to that question.  Some people mistook that post for an endorsement of the U.S. executive position but that is not the case.  I did support the removal of Saddam Hussein and felt that it was a big big mistake of the first Bush to not have done so in 2001.  In 2006 I was ambivalent about the situation, with too little information as just an independent writer and uncertain about the consequences of backing off of the situation that we had committed to, and committed our young soldiers and their families too as well.

The three books, all of which were ambitiously started at the same time were "The Assassin's Gate" by George Packer, "The Way of the Knife" by Mark Mazzeti, and "The Forever War" by Dexter Filkins,  and were sorted and began all at the same time.  "The Forever War" quickly riveted my attention, as this first hand account of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan was reality in my hands written by an exceptional reporter who joined the troops on their missions, even in Falluga, the Anbar province big city that was devastated by the war.  Along with Filkens, Mazzetti was part of a team of New York Times reporters that won a  Pulitzer prize in 2009 for their war reporting.  Mazzetti's book, focused on the CIA, and was interesting in maybe the first 100 pages but became far too detailed to the point of being unreadable as it progressed.  It promoted a "so what" attitude in this reader.

That was the stint of Iraq reading done here until recently, but with the action there now I picked up "The Assassin's Gate" again, and only half way through at this point, I can say without question that this book is completely relevant to what is going on in Iraq today.  It details the decisions made by the Bush administration to invade Iraq, and the many voices that he listened to.  It quietly made clear that Bush himself knew nothing and had little curiosity.  The thoughts and the understanding of the Iraqi people were based primarily on wealthy 30 plus year exiles from the country.

The disaster that followed is still with us today,  and with many the losses of U.S. families and wounded veterans today.  With the impending revival of conflict with ISIS in Iraq, it seems important to dig deeper into understanding what happened in Iraq more thoroughly.  My opinions, in recent posts on Eyes Not Sold about what is happening now in the Kurdish region stand firm, but one can always learn more.  This book "The Assassins'  Gate", nine years after being written, is still relevant and exceptional.


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