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From Wars of Choice to the Mistakes of Wars: Presidential Decision Making and the Limits of Democratic Accountability

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 May 2013

Jon Western
Affiliation:
Mount Holyoke College and the Five Colleges, Inc.

Extract

One does not have to look far to see that much of what has been written over the past 10 years reveals a decade filled with US foreign policy missteps, miscues, and failures. Popular books such as Thomas Ricks's Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (2006), Jane Mayer's The Dark Side (2008), George Packer's Assassins' Gate (2005), and Bob Woodward's series on “Bush's wars” captured our attention and gave us a first cut on the history of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the “global war on terror.” These riveting accounts provided rich, descriptive insights and exposed the wide range of ideological and bureaucratic feuding, the breakdown—and often deliberate circumventing—of institutional procedures and organizational practices, and the ad hoc and often chaotic process of policy selection. Embedded throughout these narratives is a broader theme that depicts the past decade as an extraordinary period of American foreign policy excess and a dramatic departure from the past.

Type
Review Essay
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2013 

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