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Review Essay

The Last War—and the Next?

Learning the Wrong Lessons From Iraq

In This Review

The U.S. Army in the Iraq War. Vol. 1: Invasion, Insurgency, Civil War, 2003–2006
The U.S. Army in the Iraq War. Vol. 1: Invasion, Insurgency, Civil War, 2003–2006
edited by Joel D. Rayburn and Frank K. Sobchak
Strategic Studies Institute and the U.S. Army War College Press, 2019, 742 pp. Purchase
The U.S. Army in the Iraq War. Vol. 2: Surge and Withdrawal, 2007–2011
The U.S. Army in the Iraq War. Vol. 2: Surge and Withdrawal, 2007–2011
edited by Joel D. Rayburn and Frank K. Sobchak
Strategic Studies Institute and the U.S. Army War College Press, 2019, 716 pp. Purchase

Earlier this year, the U.S. Army published two volumes that amount to the most comprehensive official history of the Iraq war. They cover the conflict’s most important episodes: the U.S. invasion in 2003, the death spiral into civil war that took shape in the aftermath, the more hopeful period that began with the surge of U.S. forces in 2007, and the withdrawal that saw the last U.S. forces leave Iraq at the end of 2011.

Blandly titled The U.S. Army in the Iraq War and based on 30,000 pages of newly declassified documents, the study recounts a litany of familiar but still infuriating blunders on Washington’s part: failing to prepare for the invasion’s aftermath, misunderstanding Iraqi culture and politics and sidelining or ignoring genuine experts, disbanding the Iraqi army and evicting Baath Party members from the government, ignoring and even denying the rise of sectarian violence,

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In This Review

The U.S. Army in the Iraq War. Vol. 1: Invasion, Insurgency, Civil War, 2003–2006
The U.S. Army in the Iraq War. Vol. 1: Invasion, Insurgency, Civil War, 2003–2006
edited by Joel D. Rayburn and Frank K. Sobchak
Strategic Studies Institute and the U.S. Army War College Press, 2019, 742 pp. Purchase
The U.S. Army in the Iraq War. Vol. 2: Surge and Withdrawal, 2007–2011
The U.S. Army in the Iraq War. Vol. 2: Surge and Withdrawal, 2007–2011
edited by Joel D. Rayburn and Frank K. Sobchak
Strategic Studies Institute and the U.S. Army War College Press, 2019, 716 pp. Purchase

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