Sunday, January 31, 2010

Review: The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq by Bing West.

The Strongest Tribe is a book I bought around this time last year got about a quarter read and then stopped. Within the last week I picked it up again and finished the rest.

The book is essentially about the progression of the Iraq War from the end of major combat operations in 2003 through the success at the end of "The Surge" in the Summer of 2008. I suspect the book went to publisher in Sept. of 2008 and so it does not have details or analysis of the Status of Force Agreement that was put into place between Iraq and the United States later that Fall into Winter.

The books strong suit is Bing West's connection with the US military and his ability to tell their side of the story about what was going on both good and bad. The book is weaker in it's reporting and analysis of the political realms of both the US and Iraq. Mr. West does not seem to be particularly fond of politicians and bureaucrats and makes little to no attempt to explain or give their side of the story.

I think the book is certainly worth reading to find out how the military fought the Iraq war and prevailed when so many had written the war off as a "fiasco,"disaster, terrible mistake, etc.

One of the books biggest surprises comes at the end in the 25th Chapter "The Stongest Tribe" as Mr. West gives his analysis about certain aspects of the war. The surprise comes in a paragraph entitled: Myth About the Lack of U.S. Troops. West argues that had there been more troops at the beginning doing the same things that the troops in country were doing than that would have made matters worse not better. West doesn't say but obviously hints that had the troops that were there been used in a smarter more efficient way than the numbers of US troops in Iraq would have been sufficient.

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