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Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire Hardcover – October, 2003

3.9 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Retired General Wesley Clark's follow up to his insightful, detailed memoir of NATO's victorious Kosovo campaign begins as a concise analysis of the 2003 military invasion/occupation of Iraq and wends its way to a troubling yet ultimately hopeful examination of America at an unprecedented domestic, economic, and geopolitical crossroads. Clark's keen intellect (he was a Rhodes Scholar and graduated first in his class at West Point) and refreshing gift for intelligent plain-speaking often call attention to salient observations too often overlooked in the daily jumble of selective news and political spin. Our conflicts with Iraq have not been two distinct wars, but an unceasing, 13-year-long military campaign; the ambitious Pax Americana envisioned by Bush administration neocons is not only unsustainable, but a redundant anachronism, America having long ago created a "virtual empire" by dint of its interlocking international business relationships, cultural lure, and (ideally) moral leadership. His critics may label it the political manifesto of an ambitious presidential contender (a charge he quickly addresses in his introduction with a pre-emptive strike that is, given the subject matter, a bit ironic), but Clark's vision of an engaged, enterprising America leading the world instead of dominating it is rooted in an objective understanding of history, our nation's own longstanding philosophical ideals, and no small amount of refreshing horse sense (are we fighting terrorism by creating terrorists? And how safe is a country that starves its very security apparatus with unsound economic policies?). Ever loyal to the armed forces he served with distinction for 33 years, Clark also never passes up an opportunity to praise our nation's best and bravest, the men and women who are the cutting edge of America's sword, be it yielded with restrained wisdom or reckless abandon. --Jerry McCulley

From Publishers Weekly

While this work's origins do not seem to lie in its author's presidential ambitions, its publication is clearly timed to reinforce General Clark's newly announced candidacy. The effect is a work with a split personality. Its first half is a narrative and analysis of the military campaign that overthrew Saddam Hussein's government in three weeks during the spring of 2003. Clark, a highly visible commentator during the operation, describes the U.S. ability to synchronize firepower and maneuvers as decisive in crushing an Iraqi army whose fighting power had been significantly overestimated. He is appropriately enthusiastic about the competence displayed at all levels, from the senior headquarters down to companies and platoons. He recognizes a level of flexibility and a readiness to take risks that are unusual, if not unique, in U.S. military operations, even though both seem to make him uncomfortable. The plan, Clark argues, took unnecessary risks by skimping on the forces committed. More seriously--and here the work shifts focus and becomes a campaign statement--the Bush administration, he says, was so focused on winning the military war that it made inadequate preparations for occupation and reconstruction. Clark argues that the administration has refused to seek legitimacy from the U.N. and NATO, or to build on the international sympathy manifested immediately after 9/11. The strategic result, Clark says, has been a loss of focus on what he calls the "real war" against terrorism, a neglect of domestic security and a concentration on preemptively challenging purportedly hostile states. The practical consequences, he believes, include a series of wasted opportunities in Afghanistan, a possible quagmire in Iraq and the increasing isolation of a U.S. that uses war as a first option instead of a last resort. Clark concludes by calling for a return to international cooperation combined with greater emphasis on a sound economy.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586482181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586482183
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,630,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
First of all, this title is heavy. It is not 'dumbed down' for the reading ease of the majority population.
Second, prepare to be amazed because General Wesley Clark seems almost a seer in his predictions of the Iraq offensive (initiated by the Bush Administration). He explains in detail the dynamics of the Middle East, and exactly what type of participation needs to be involved to achieve peace. His theories are nothing short of brilliant, and sensitive, as were his CNN commentaries and analysis. You would be hard pressed to find so thorough a volume, so accurate a volume, by any other military leader.
General Wesley K. Clark, with this book, gives credibility to his vast knowledge of foreign policy, and demonstrates his superior critical thinking skills. He is a shining star on the political horizon, and, quite possibly, will be the brightest military strategist and diplomat to hold the office of President of the United States.
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Format: Hardcover
Parts of this fairly brief yet well-written work by former general Wesley Clark fairly sing. For example, when describing the active military strategy employed that shrewdly manipulated the Iraqis into alternatively exposing themselves to Allied airpower and armor, Clark is obviously in his element, illustrating how the kind of `lean and mean' profile of the new American military tactics can be used to actively spur and influence the conduct of overwhelming blitzkrieg-type rapid advances. Moreover, as he describes the geo-political hazards of playing bait and switch with Saddam Hussein, using him as the `flight dummy', a substitute standing in for Osama Bin laden as the resident bad-guy American military might can be deployed against, Clark illustrates why he was a controversial yet acknowledged tactician who understood every element of the quicksilver calculus of modern battle. Yet when he begins to draw obvious political conclusions from all this, his argument somewhat stalls and slows down.
While it is hard to argue with his observations regarding the way the Bush administration cynically manipulated and played on the fears and trepidations of the populace in pursuing rather conventional engagements since it would be easy and likley successful, first with the Afghans and later the Iraqis, it is also true that it is extremely self-serving to do so for a man who is now an announced candidate for President. And while I agree that he is very much on the mark in terms of the accuracy and cogency of his arguments against both the tenor and intensity of the war effort since 911, one tires of the repeated criticism and attacks on Bush, even though Clark sometimes does so quite convincingly.
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Format: Hardcover
Clark's book main topics include: the situation in Iraq, how to deal with terrorism, foreign policy, and the U.S. economy. He presents a smart rebuttal of the Bush administration policies. His ideas will resonate with the U.S. electorate. It will ensure our next President will be more of a Centrist.
Clark was against the war in Iraq. This military venture has failed all intended political purposes. We have not found a Iraqi nuclear program. There are no links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The invasion of Iraq has not squelched terrorism, but instead exacerbated as thousands of terrorists throughout the Islamic World infiltrate Iraq and shoot U.S. soldiers as easy target. Installing a lasting democracy seems unlikely.
The U.S. Administration post war planning was terrible. The Administration made utopic assumptions that the Iraqis would be ecstatic about being liberated by U.S. forces. The Administration underestimated the Baath party underground resistance, the degree of Shiite factionalism. It also disbanded the Iraqi Army adding 400,000 armed men to the rank of the unemployed. Many boosted the underground Baath party resistance. In attempting to retain full control of the Iraq post war situation, the Administration raised its costs and risks. This is instead of leveraging the UN and NATO peacekeeping forces.
Per Clark, terrorism is supranational with no State allegiance. The Administration is attempting to fight it with an obsolete Cold War framework of State-vs-State conflicts. It is attempting to fight terrorism as it fought back Nazism in WWII, and Communism thereafter. The Administration has listed six other targeted countries for upcoming preemptive wars. These include: Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan. This is a mistake that the U.S.
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Format: Hardcover
General Wesley Clark's new book on the invasion of Iraq and the fight against terrorism is an absolutely first rate analysis not merely of those conflicts, but on the historical context of the innovations in foreign policy undertaken by the Bush administration. It is of especial relevance now not merely because of the ongoing difficulties in Iraq, but because Clark has become a candidate for president. Since he has recently been accused of having flip-flopped on Iraq, this book should serve as his definitive statement of his views on the subject. He comes across as deeply insightful, cogent, and profoundly analytical.
Roughly the first half of the book is a marvelous recounting and analysis of the invasion of Iraq, with little regard to the reasons why Iraq was invaded or the overall political context. It is fairly straightforward military history. As such, it is likely to stand as one of the primary sources for future accounts of the invasion.
In writing of the invasion of Iraq, Clark writes like the former general he is. He never writes of any unit in general terms; he always refers specifically to the units involved. He writes not of U.S. soldiers and marines, but of the 3rd Infantry division or the 101st Airborne. They don't merely attack the Iraqi army, but the Republican Guards, the Medina, or the Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar Divisions. He writes of the American units as of old friends, dropping their names as if they are luminaries with whom he is proud to have associated in the past. His discussions of the tactics, the technologies, and the hardware used in the war are enormously insightful. I can't imagine many individuals, whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, who wouldn't enjoy the first half of the book.
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