Andrew Bacevich, former colonel in the US Army, and now professor of International Relations at Boston University reviews two books about the war in Iraq, and especially two of its generals: David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal.  The books do not tell all they might.  Even though Bacevich praises the research of Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor in The Endgame, he faults them for not walking their analysis out to where it leads.

“The Endgame” seeks to “provide the most comprehensive account to date” of the events it describes. It achieves that. Even so, where it matters mostthe ­authors come up short.

Future historians may well classify the surge as a myth concocted to perpetuate a fraud. The myth centers on the claim that a strategy devised in Washington and implemented by a brilliant general saved the day. The fraud is that a 20-year military effort to determine the fate of Iraq yielded something approximating a positive outcome. Although “The Endgame”provides an abundance of evidence to demolish the myth, Gordon and Trainor shy away from doing so. With the American public and political elites inclined simply to forget the Iraq war, “The Endgame”provides a rationale for doing just that.

A useful antidote to those trotting out figureheads to claim that the ship is heading in the right direction.

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