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Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq First Edition Edition
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As an academic with an expertise in democracy building, Diamond sometimes seems more comfortable with theories than practical solutions, but he did experience the process in Iraq from the inside and provides a useful background on the various ethnic and religious groups vying for power there. He claims that he remains hopeful, but his optimism lies more with the abilities of the Iraqi people than with the U.S. government, since the difficult process of democratization will likely take much more time and effort than the U.S. can afford to spend. --Shawn Carkonen
From Publishers Weekly
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While some reviewers are critical of this author for representing all that is wrong with our post-war approach (he doesn't speak Arabic and knows nothing of the Middle East) I do not hold that against him--he tried to help, and he was the best we had. It is the fault of a long series of US Administrations, and multiple generations of Congress, that have chosen to ignore the real world and to short-change American education to the point that we are literally clueless as a Nation about the real world and how billions of people in the real world hold mixed feelings about America: admiring much of what we represent, while despising our immoral corporate and unilateral government behavior.
The U.S. Army, both before the war and in the post-reconstruction period--and the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army--come out of this book looking very professional. The Army got it right, both in its pre-war estimates of what would be needed, and in its post-war recommendations. The author places the blame for the post-war deaths and disasters squarely at the feet of a naive President that empowered a Secretary of Defense inclined to go light, and side-lined a Department of State whose own intelligence estimates on Iraq have been consistently superior to those of either the Central Intelligence Agency or the Department of Defense.
I put this book down with a heavy heart, coincident with Secretary Rumsfeld announcing that we will be in Iraq and be taking losses for another twelve years. The good news is that Iraq will over time achieve its own balance, its own form of democracy.Read more ›
Diamond responded to the call for help, but he was self-aware that his lack of knowledge of Iraq, Arabic and local politics made him marginally qualified for the task he was handed. Reading the book instills a sense of anger at how badly the Bush Administration has botched post-war Iraq.Read more ›
For the reviewers that seem to think starting the book on the next to last chapter will suffice are actually committing the same mistake that the U.S. did, and that is trying to handle the topic of Iraq with next to no knowledge about the country. You can't be ignorant of what was happening then and expect to know what's happening now.
Also, give the author a break. Just because he's not a middle east expert and does not speak Arabic doesn't mean he's not qualified or shouldn't have written a book about his experience in Iraq. His area of concern is democracy itself which is something that applies to the whole world, not just the middle east. The work that he's done in the past is applicable in a general sense to Iraq or to any other country.
I enjoyed this book because of the detailed description of what was happening within the U.S. decision making body immediately after the invasion. The only other book that really discusses this topic is Noah Feldman's What We Owe Iraq. Put simply, this isn't material that you can just find anywhere. It isn't a scholarly endeavor like his other work...in a lot of ways it is a travel diary. Because of this it comes across a bit easier to read, but you can still extract a fair amount of scholarly information from the book.
This is a particularly dense book at times though and if you don't have anything beyond a passing interest in Iraq, then this book probably isn't for you. However, if you are interested enough to take the time to get through the book, I believe you will be rewarded.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Larry Diamond's political orientation is made loud and clear in this book. He's now a fan of Bush and not a fan of the Iraq War. Read morePublished on October 29, 2012 by Enjolras
Sad but true. Entering a war with dishonorable motives (i.e., lying about WMD and then changing war goals to nation building and establishment of democracy) only gets the... Read morePublished on March 3, 2010 by Scholasticus
In Larry Diamond's other books, "Democritization in Africa," and "The Spirit of Democracy," he makes it very clear that building a democracy from a dictatorship is no easy matter. Read morePublished on December 31, 2008 by bill greene
Larry Diamond is an internationally recognized expert on the processes, concepts and development of democracies. Read morePublished on January 19, 2008 by C. Collins
This is an interesting book. Anyone who is interested in an alternative to the right wing talk radio and tv news should seriously consider checking out the Thom Hartmann radio show... Read morePublished on March 8, 2007 by MD
In late 2003 Condoleezza Rice telephoned her friend and Stanford colleague Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institution to ask him to go to Iraq as a senior adviser to the Coalition... Read morePublished on January 17, 2007 by Daniel B. Clendenin
Larry Diamond's Squandered Victory is interesting but also somewhat disappointing.
Diamond was among those Americans who went to Iraq after the invasion to try to... Read more
Probably the best book of the year. Diamond writes a great account of the Iraq disaster from an insider's view. Read morePublished on May 5, 2006 by J. Davis
I thought the book was ok, but it bothers me that Mr. Diamond uses the word democracy over and over. We are NOT a democracy. We are a Republic. Read morePublished on April 6, 2006 by Amazon Customer