Small Wars Journal

Nagl on West: In it to Win

John Nagl (LTC, US Army ret.), a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, reviews Bing West's latest book on Iraq, The Strongest Tribe in Sunday's edition of the Washington Post.

Here are several excerpts from the full review.

... The Strongest Tribe is the first overview of the entire course of the Iraq war to be published since Gen. David Petraeus implemented a change in strategy...

... presents a biting analysis of the muddled strategy that marked the war's second and third years, when the United States rushed to hand over control to an Iraqi military that was not ready to assume such responsibility.

... change in how the troops conceived of their mission was far more important than the relatively small increase in the number of troops that the "surge" label overemphasizes.

... A large number of senior (mostly Army) generals come in for scathing reviews in The Strongest Tribe, but West reserves his most critical assessments for politicians and journalists.

... Instead, the soldiers and Marines who do the fighting and the dying endure repeated tours of duty because we have more war than our too-small Army and Marine Corps can handle. West tells the story of their sacrifices better than anyone else, with an infantryman's keen eye for combat and a father's love for those who engage in it.

... The consequences of defeat in Iraq, West argues, are similarly severe, entirely foreseeable and preventable at an increasingly bearable cost. "Reducing the US force in Iraq can be done prudently, as long as we don't promise a total withdrawal that signals America has given up," he writes. "That makes no sense given the progress that has been made." Looking through the prism of my own experience, I find it hard to disagree.

In it to Win - Washington Post, 17 August 2008.

SWJ Interview with Bing West - (Part 1)

SWJ Interview with Bing West - (Part 2)

Purchase The Strongest Tribe -



Sun, 08/17/2008 - 11:08am

I wish Nagl included a review of the Mansoor "Baghdad at Sunrise" along with the West book. If memory serves though, Nagl has a write-up on the back of the Mansoor book, so perhaps also reviewing it is considered inappropriate. Anyway, Nagl writes a great review.