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Losing Hurts Twice as Bad: The Four Stages to Moving Beyond Iraq Hardcover – September 17, 2008

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Surveying the American occupation of Iraq, Tulane political science professor Fettweis maintains that the war is a lost—and utterly pointless—cause and that the only rational course for America is to accept defeat and withdraw so that the process of national recovery—marked by four distinct stages (shock and denial, anger, depression and acceptance)—can begin. Precipitous withdrawal is possible because none of the feared consequences of such an action—humanitarian disaster, regional instability or loss of U.S. credibility—is remotely likely, in Fettweis's view. Linking the debacle in Iraq to the post-WWII grand strategy of internationalism, the author argues for a return to the founding fathers' favored foreign policy of strategic restraint. Such a retreat from the world, the author claims, is virtually risk-free because today's threats are minimal, and the resulting peace dividend would be better spent at home on priorities like Hurricane Katrina recovery. Fettweis's thesis—although well-intentioned—rests on several narrowly argued assumptions: the war in Iraq is unwinnable and the national security implications [of withdrawal] will be minimal. More polemic than scholarship, this book will likely generate more heat than light. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Fettweis, professor of security studies at the Naval War College, caused something of a stir in the political blogosphere in spring 2007, when he published a provocative editorial warning Americans to be prepared for divisiveness, second-guessing, and resentment in the wake of failure in Iraq. With this selection, the author expands his warning into a book-length exploration of “post-traumatic Iraq syndrome.” He devotes considerable space to fleshing out the idea that pop-psychology’s vocabulary of grief (denial, shock, anger, depression, and acceptance) can be useful in discussing the sociopolitical effects of defeat on the national psyche. Ultimately, however, Fettweis is less interested in articulating a theory of mass grief than he is in avoiding another post-Vietnam malaise. His objective is to steel his fellow citizens for the challenges ahead and to encourage them to get started on what will inevitably be a painful process. Echoing Wolfgang Schivelbusch in The Culture of Defeat (2001), Fettweis says that losing can be a good thing if it prompts candid reassessment of national priorities. --Brendan Driscoll

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393067610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393067613
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,223,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Pizzalogist on January 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The negative reviews here seem to share the belief that Fettweis wrote
this book predicting that the US would lose the war in Iraq, and then
was immediately proven wrong by "the surge". If anyone who mocked
Fettweis for doing so actually went on to read this book, they'd see
that there own predictions were false.

I'll start off with the easy point: Fettweis talks about the surge
and various other ways in which the military situation was improving
back when this book was written.

So, what were Fettweis's predictions? I'm skimming through the book
as I don't remember the details years later...

"losing": Fettweis did not claim that the US would suffer a decisive
defeat in Iraq. In fact he wrote that technically speaking, the US
couldn't lose; that the most likely outcome was "prolonged, muddled
ambiguity rather than clear victory or defeat." The thing that the US
would need to get over was the unavoidable "appearance of defeat" -
that the majority in this country would feel that the war was a
tremendous waste that the US shouldn't have started. Was he right?
Yup.

"politics": Fettweis predicted increased partisanship, reassertion of
Congresses power at the expense of the executive, anger at the
institutions of government, and an eventual reassertion of the right
wing. Was he right? Well, the Republicans in Congress have pretty
effectively obstructed the Democratic President on just about
everything, and most people can't stand either Congress, the
President, or both. So, yes on the first 3. The 4th is a push:
Fettweis described it as "eventual" and "by no means inevitable" ...
Read more ›
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bewildered Review Reader on January 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What a shabby, ignorant, poorly reasoned work. The analysis is of a complexity that you would expect to hear in a barbershop or a pool hall. I did read the book, every word of it. I think the author must have used the word disaster or catastrophe over a hundred times to characterize American involvement in Iraq. What a treat to see a faker exposed by concrete events just a few months after the work is published. On a lighter note, no one lost his life because of this silly book. It just provided some much needed amusement.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Steven Gregg on September 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's terrible to be wrong-footed by reality, as the poor professor has been. Perhaps he should have been reading the mil blogs to discover we were winning in Iraq rather than the New York Times or faculty cocktail chatter.

This book reminds me of Gary Hart's "American Can Win" from 1986 where he argued that our weapons were too expensive and complex to work, that they would fail in combat. He advocated simpler, single purpose designs like the Soviets. Then the first Gulf War came along and our weapons worked wonderfully and annihilated the Iraqis manning Soviet weapons. Ooops! I recall seeing that book in the remainder pile after the war.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By GW Dye, MD on September 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Fettweis' evidence is awesome and convincing but he neither dwells upon on nor celebrates the United States' missteps as the other reviewers, who admit that they haven't read the book, infer. Fettweis' analysis is thoughtful and careful.

Furthermore, Losing Hurts Twice as Bad is not as much about the war in Iraq as it is about how the United States mut move beyond Iraq to other more pressing international challenges.

I highly recommend Losing Hurts Twice as Bad for people who like military strategy, international relations, history, current events, sports, learning, diplomacy, and the United States.

GWD
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By AmazonMember74 on September 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Many of the other reviewers have not read the book and are simply basing their opinion solely on the book title. I have read it. I know they are misinformed.

The book speaks to what the US needs to learn from this moment in time, what our foreign policy should focus on in the future and what the american society will need to do to recover and move forward.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charles C. Hardin on September 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
We've all seen the sad graveyard of failed predictions at the used bookstore. They're not organized into one section, but maybe they should be, if only for the sake of schadenfreude. The Complete Y2K Home Preparation Guide, 5/5/2000 Ice: The Ultimate Disaster, The Late Great Planet Earth, The Population Bomb, The Gentle Tasaday...they all deserve a place of dishonor. Not only were they wrong, they should have known they were wrong, and so should the publisher.

It's not clear to me whether this book falls in that exact category, since the publishing cycle is long and the Iraq war was not obviously working out when the book was approved for publication. However, it certainly doesn't seem relevant now, and its predictions are dated as badly as any of the works listed above. I see no reason to buy it new. Wait until it's remaindered. Copies should be cheap and plentiful by then.
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