Getting Out: Historical Perspectives on Leaving Iraq

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Getting Out: Historical Perspectives on Leaving Iraq
Edited by Michael Walzer and Nicolaus Mills
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009
168 pp. $29.95
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A surprisingly large number of U.S. policymakers appear to agree with Henry Ford's famous observation that "history is bunk." Strong on theory and assumptions drawn from disciplines such as economics and political science, but largely ignorant of the facts on the ground, Americans repeatedly get into trouble when theory meets praxis and bullets start to fly. Getting Out is a healthy corrective to this national flaw. In this slender but illuminating volume, Walzer and Mills have assembled essays on past military withdrawals and on the tasks facing Americans designing an exit from Iraq. From Stanley Weintraub's crisp essay on Great Britain's withdrawal from the Colonies after its defeat in the American Revolutionary War to studies of much more recent disengagements, the contributions offer a variety of useful and stimulating perspectives on the complex problems involved in orderly withdrawals. George Packer's essay on Iraq best summarizes the consensus here: slow and careful withdrawals work best, although there are no guarantees.