tv The Presidency Evaluating the Iraq Surge CSPAN February 15, 2020 12:00pm-2:01pm EST
levels. we hear from a panel of scholars who respond to previous observations by former bush administration officials and who offer comparisons to similar military decisions by other presidents. the center for presidential history at southern >> so, without further ado it's my pleasure to introduce the chair of this panel who is the executive director of the center at the university of texas at austin and he has not unique but certainly dual perspective of being a person who has studied decision-making in the white house and been a part of decision-making in the white house. he was an invaluable member for underlying factors that make the project work. i thank you for that and i turned the microphone over to you. [applause]
>> thank you, jeff. i'm honored to moderate this panel with four dear friends and valued colleagues. there is a concern afoot that as a moderator i might let it go to my head and try to interject myself too much in the discussion. so i will sit down there while they make their presentations and will come back up here during the actual q&a time. you have the detailed bios of the speakers in your program so i will not repeat those first is professor richard emerman. his bio says he recent retired from temple university. i know richard well. richard does not know the meaning of the word retirement. we are close friends and collaborators and the state department historical advisory council and he continues to be active as a scholar and mentor and is an active citizen in the guild of national security scholars and historians.
next to him is a professor mel leffler of the university of virginia. again, another titan in the field of diplomatic history. i started reading his books as an undergrad and continued reading more as a graduate student and continue to benefit from his books today. mel is the only one of our four who does not technically have a chapter in this edited collection. without giving up too much in the peer review process, let's say he played an important role in improving all the products they came to print. our interloper on the panel of historians is dr. cory shockey, technically a political scientist and protege of tom schilling. he is a long dear friend and former colleague from the bush administration. he said many important roles in academia, think tanks, and is
friendly a better historian than a lot of card-carrying historians. so we are honored to be here. and finally professor andrew preston. he is a canadian by birth and citizenship, did much of his and studies in the united states and is now professor in the u.k. at cambridge. also a dear friend and a contributor to the book. with that we are going to turn it over to our panel. each will be reading his or her comments from and then we will have have a q&a time. please join me in welcoming the panel. [applause] >>it is good that the podium is set up like it is. otherwise i am sure will would have moved the mic to his level and i would've had to be jumping up and down to reach it.
let me begin by saying how thrilled i was to join this project, to accept jeff's invitation. because of the drama controversy and implications, ongoing implications that attended the bush administration's decision to surge in iraq, for any historian of u.s. foreign relations and i will underscore the word historian, the subject is really irresistible. making it that much more attractive with the trans--- chance to contribute to it as a first cut at history. as we discussed this morning in both sessions, the archival evidence is still classified. most of it. and it will remain so for a decade and probably more. in fact if i have one thing to , all of you who participated, do everything you can to get this material released.
i spent a lot of time with the archives and it is becoming increasingly difficult to get any material released in any presidential administration and that is going to be a problem for the future. but in lieu of that, we do have access to the oral testimony of a remarkable number of pivotal contributors of all different levels, which really is virtually unprecedented for this type of project. i also had a more personal interest. i have been studying national security decision-making and policymaking for some four decades. it began back in the 1970's when i began to export foreign policies of the eisenhower administration, which has come up several times largely because those processes have become
legendary even though the assessments of them can often be diametrically opposed. i will come back to that but you can understand why a project aimed at drilling down into such a momentous yet complicated decision held such appeal for someone like myself. you can therefore also understand easily why that appeal grew greater greater as i poured through the interviews a . a consensus quickly emerged, really surfaced among the contributors, regardless of their position or perspective, that the process was outstanding. i think that has been reinforced today. the adjectives ran from textbook , to model, to highly effective. in fact the worst that could be , said of them was they were good. indeed except for a few who lamented that the prospect took longer and even then there was
an upside to the length that took and that has been dashed to the length it took, the length. one dissent describe the process estranged. -- strange. but in that sense it worked and that it enabled president bush to make a courageous decision. i think there is ample evidence that was the case. and though courageous does not necessarily mean wise or right, it was perhaps better than the alternative. now granted, in a number of respects, this consensus was predicable given the nature and to some extent the conception of the project. there's the famous adage that history is written by the victors. attribute it to winston churchill, although historians do not know if he really did say it.
one could make sense that applies to oral histories. and most oral histories. the judgment in this case of those who were interviewed and i , think this was reinforced today and i'm not suggesting it was wrong, is that the decision to surge was a good one largely because the outcome was good. was the right one. this seemed to true even to those who were not on board. at least early on. and those like condoleezza rice would be an example of that. she did not come on board until the end. but she said she was very proud of how they -- how the whole process unfolded. conversely, those who might be called the losers, donald rumsfeld for example, in terms of this context.
cannot through the fault of the project, they were silent, and not to the fault of the project, but they were silent. they were not interviewed. or do not agree to be interviewed. it was the same case for george casey and many of the other military leaders. now don't get me wrong. what we learned from the oral histories is original, highly informative and fascinating. it is terrific grist for a student of national security decision-making and provides us with a history of the surge beyond anything, of the surge beyond anything we were privy to before. it should be used in any course anyone teaches on u.s. foreign policy or international relations. but as i said, original. it is a first cut. we have to keep that in mind. in many ways it wets our
appetite for more of the story. for more analysis and word -- more documents. this came up briefly. among those there will be more that pertain to what scholars often called the missing dimension of international relations which is intelligence. that was mentioned there. i have a personal interest in this. i would like to know not only the correlation between the intelligence and decisions, what kind of input it was. but what i think is a fascinating question, is whether that took place in the intelligence community, whether the reforms that took place in the intelligence committee between and had any effect in terms of how the consumers of intelligence did so. i was interested in peter's comment which he said in that
intelligence could not guarantee. of course intelligence can never guarantee. all it can do is inform and reduce uncertainty. one of the reforms, which is near and dear to my heart, was that the intelligence would have different types of scenarios. which was not always easy for the intelligence, for the consumer, but nevertheless that was pivotal and it was required. to me that as a whole other sort of story or parallel story which i would loved to be explored. again, i do not know how and when it might be. anyway let me circle back to the , process itself. and to reiterate that it was my study of eisenhower's foreign and national security policies in the and the architecture that 1950's, generated them, that was the initial spark for my interest in national security decision-making. and, you know, in many ways, and while i am reluctant to use
eisenhower as a model, and i sort of did, and when will read my essay he laughed at me for doing it, and the same thing happened at the workshop. so i'm ready to sort of get it again. [laughter] but i am not suggesting in any way that all the administrations should mimic that architecture. or would i suggest that administrations do not have to adapt their processes to the demand of the contemporary and -- contemporary environment. what today we conventionally refer to as the interagency process is much broader and much more complex than it was back in the 1950's. and for that matter, through the end of the cold war. for example, today's national security council dwarfs in size and scope and authority anything that eisenhower put together and institutionalized in the 1950's. conversely, i would argue, and
this might be something that would be interesting to explore in the second volume are the third and -- the power, the second volume or the third volume or the 4th volume. and the power of the state department under eisenhower remained the core of the policy process, and the secretary of state who was the unparalleled spokesman of the foreign policy communicate. that power has receded even as the power of the pentagon hat is increased. i have to stop pointing. anyway, and there's a situation and that is also important and personalities have come up in several different contexts, in terms of the conversation, that no president since eisenhower with the possible exception of
george h w bush i have to say , mention that because jeff is here, none of has possessed any close to his reputation, stature, or therefore experience or political capital and, you know, because of his military authority, i think it was no one class. so that was sort of very important. nevertheless, i think the fundamental pillars of his process are as applicable today as they were, his process are as applicable today as they were then. i will mention a couple of them, including, which would engaging the right people at the right level at the right time, providing an environment conducive to evoking constructive debate that cuts across agencies line and to which the president is an eyewitness, ensuring the debate surfaced all options and scenarios, the success for which
requires a custodial manager, national security advisor, who sort of walks a fine line between honest broker and policy entrepreneur. and finally, some sort of mechanism that ensures once a decision is made and implementation begun, monitors the progress to decide whether or not some sort of change is necessary. to repeat, i am not claiming that process or architecture or models, i am a historian and not a political scientist, and that every president must be able to devise and architecture that he or she is comfortable with, but i will argue that all of those elements should be present. in one form or another. and now i will quickly go over my criticism, which will limit how much i can be criticized for it.
but i will be happy to discuss anything further during the question and answer. so, to begin with, there was not a mechanism to trigger a review. or a monitor. and to trigger, eisenhower had an appendage of the national security council, many of you know this, called the operation coordinating board. it never worked as well as was -- as well as it was intended that it did as sure that secretion of a policy could not continue indefinitely without some kind of appraisal of that policy periodically. be continually, but it would at various intervals. in this case there was no mechanism to trigger that review. sort of automatically. 2006,he from late 2005 to
many national security officials and entities at different levels expressed profound concern with u.s. policy and direction, that there was not a review. there were meetings. many, many meetings. referred to in interviews as stylized. they did not necessarily get them to where it needed to go. itself orhe nsc elements of the nse forced a review. sc forced a review. yet it took place covertly. clandestinely. i do not know what word you want to include, in which basically it cut out the secretary of defense at many of the services chiefs or the uniformed military. again, that really could not have happened and then that leads to what was mentioned and
what i consider one of the strangest episodes in decision-making history, which is that which surrounded the camp david meeting that june, in which it was teed up andd that the meeting never really got off the ground again for a variety of different reasons. i'm just going to quickly summarize, but my general point is that even though -- let me add one more thing. then there is the issue that comes out clearly that the nsc does conduct basically its own informal review. you have other ones going on. but then it is the nsc that really develops a preference if that would be the word or at least puts on the table the notion of having a doubled down type of strategy which ultimately becomes the surge. it is not generated by one of the agencies.
so it is difficult, again, that would be -- that is in violation of the sort of the eisenhower model in which it would have been put up, it would had to have been mentioned unless no one thought about it at all. early in the process. to the credit of the nsc and the staff, and particularly the credit of steve hadley and so many of those who are here, attesting to the other eisenhower principal, that the organization, no matter how good it is, really is only as good as the individuals who are part of it. so in this case, it really was the individuals that sort of, -- sort of negate everything i said, because it compensated for what i consider really flaws in the structure, relying on sort of extragovernmental inputs, officials outside the formal chain of command, concealing some of the deliberations from others, or whatever, the nsc did
ultimately arrive at a recommendation that enabled president bush to make this courageous decision, a decision that the nsc wanted it to make and clearly president bush wanted to make, at least for the second half of 2006. it surely was a courageous decision. although i will leave it to history as to whether or not it was the wisest decision or the right one. the question is whether the system works. maybe it did, if the fact that the barometer is that the policy ended up where they wanted to be. but i do not think that is the right question. so i mean, i would like to ask those who are involved in it if they were writing a textbook on decision-making process, is whether this is the path wait -- pathway they would recommend to get from point a to point b. and i think not. and i hope not. thank you very much.
[applause] >> so first of all i want to begin by thanking the organizers. i think it was really inspiring this morning and earlier this afternoon, inspiring as a scholar and even more importantly, inspiring simile as inspiring -- inspiring simply as an american citizen, to listen to the thoughtful reassessment of the decision-making that went into this surge. i think it is incredibly impressive for us as americans to think that we have had such people, whether we agree with their decisions or disagree with their decisions, making policy
and the highest echelons of the white house, the state department, and the pentagon and elsewhere. it behooves all of us as americans to think how different things are today, and how consequential it is that we do not have serious, thoughtful minded people engaged in the process comparable to the ones we have heard today. i also want to preface my remarks by saying that i do not have a stake on this volume. i was not interviewed for it. i have not written an essay for it. i was an outside referee. i also hope that peter fever will take my comments thoughtfully as an objective scholar, because i did not sign
the letter as an academic and, opposing the war. and i'd like to think that have come to whatever views i have had, which are pretty complex and textured, about the decision to go to war and about the aftermath. and just because i'm an academic, i do not necessarily have vested opinions, politically inspired. >> you're on probation. >>i am on probation, i know, but 10 minutes from now i will probably will not get your approbation. but at least i'm on probation now. i was asked make some overall comments about the book and the surge. i think it is a wonderful book. the interviews are really illuminating. the volume is seamlessly edited. the interviews are brought
together in a very effective way. they provide an excellent chronological overview of the decision to surge troops in iraq. i also admired the essays because they offer such different perspectives. there is an essay by three of the key policymakers, steve hadley and megan o'sullivan and peter. one essay by them. and then six or seven other essays by very renowned scholars, three of whom appear on this stage. what is significant about all the essays, is that they make you think really deeply about process, strategy, and president bush's overall decision-making.
what i want to do in the minutes or so that i have is to talk about these three patters. process. strategy. overall decision-making. first, in terms of process, richard, whom you have just heard, is very critical of the process. actually so are some of the former policymakers, like philip cellico. nonetheless, in my judgment, steve hadley and peter fever and megan offer a compelling defense of the process in their essay. they make two really important points. they say that the process get -- gave the president most of all the option he wanted. secondly, the big point they make is that even more
importantly, the process enabled the president to forge a consensus among top officials, which was no mean a compliment. -- accomplishment as you have heard, richard was not convinced. what he does in the volume in a very systematic way is to compare bush's national security council to ike's national secret counsel process. to be assisting, richard claims president bush was not significantly involved from the inception of the process, that the process was belated. that it was stovepiped or siloed until nearly the end. and that the outcome was predetermined. what is interesting, i think, is that steve hadley and peter fever and megan o'sullivan do
not really directly rebut those criticisms. and they do not say that there process is a model, that it is a text book model. they clearly do not make the claim that they were trying to emulate eisenhower's process, the process that president eisenhower employed so effectively. that is not what was on their minds. but they make the larger point, throughout their interviews and throughout the volume, that we heard this morning, that the process worked. that is what counted, the process worked. that word is used over and over again. i would say this assertion that the process worked invites examination of strategy.
not simply process, but strategy. what does it really mean to say that it worked? in the volume, bob jervis, one of the most renowned scholars of international relations in decision-making in the whole world, bob dervish notes that there is much dispute among experts about whether the surge actually made a lasting difference or whether it was even decisive in the short run. in part, doug lute underscored that today and said there were many other ingredients that made the surge work rather than simply the deployment of american troops. concurrent developments, says bob jarvis, like the sunni awakening, they have to contributed more to the outcome, more to way making the surge work than the deployment of additional troops itself.
i believe jervis is far too skeptical of the short-term impact of the surge. in my opinion, the surge did work in the following way. the surge worked in that it significantly mitigated sectarian killings and insurgent attacks. in fact according to the newly , published history of the army in the iraq war, a volume that just came out a few month ago, 1300 pages long. it points out that not only did civilian casualties and death significantly decline after the -- during the surge and afterwards, but insurgent
attacks declined from about 140 per day in early 2007 virtually none on a routine day in. -- in 2009. that to me suggest that it worked, at least tactically. but along with bob jervis and richard and other scholars of the volume i am inclined to , question whether the surge, albeit a tactical success, was a strategic success. in supporting the surge, they do a wonderful job in their interviews and in the essay explaining how changing
assumptions -- the changing assumption that motivated the surge. they illuminate how they interrogated previous assumptions and reconfigured them. what is interesting both in their essay and the interviews is that they actually say rather little about overall strategic goals. they often allude to "the mission." but they do not specify the mission's goals. in 2002 and 2003 when the , administration invaded iraq, the goals were to rid iraq of weapons of mass destruction and bring about regime change.
the goal was to make sure that the iraqi government would not hand off weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups with global ambitions. the goal in was to make certain that iraq would not be a threat to its neighbors. those were the goals. those goals actually had been achieved by the end of 2003. mostly by confirmation that iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. and that iraq was far weaker than anyone in the administration had imagined. building democracy and undertaking nationbuilding were embraced as goals mostly after it became clear that iraq did not have weapons of mass
destruction. when the surge took place, it seemed like the new goal was to bring about an democratic iraq "govern itself, defend itself and sustain itself." yet in the interviews quoted in this book and in the "govern it, defend itself essays there is little discussion really of how democratization and nationbuilding related to overall u.s. capabilities and strategic interests, both regionally and globally. says tooint megan stephen the decision-making papers, "i can't write a
about an emerging consensus because actually nobody agrees with anybody about even foundational issues." i do not see the foundational issue elucidated in a satisfactory way. perhaps they were addressed. i'm not saying they were not addressed. perhaps they were addressed in the actual memos and they were addressed in the position papers written for the nsc deputies and the nsc principals, but those documents have not been declassified. that is a real shame. it constitutes a real obstacle to any final conclusion about the strategy and the process behind the search. -- surge. the absence of such
documents does not deter some scholars and policymakers from calling for a more favorable overall assessment of president bush as a decision-maker. indeed the interviews and , several essays suggest that the surge was a courageous choice for president bush. he went against public opinion. he went against his secretary of defense. he went against his secretary of state. he went against the joint chiefs of staff. yes, he went against condi rice, donald rumsfeld, general pace. all of them were initially against the surge. with the talented assistance of steve hadley and his nsc staff, president bush orchestrated a decision that everybody eventually agreed upon.
over the next 18 to 24 months, the surge did reduce violence and did reduce sectarian killings. my question should these , generalizations inspire a reinterpretation of president bush and the iraq war? i do not think so. by mid-2006, the prevailing policy was failing. the choice was double down with the surge, reposition, or carefully withdraw. nobody around president bush, even the opponents of the surge, could face a pullout and acknowledge feet. -- acknowledge defeat. whatever that might mean. the only option actually was the
last card, the surge. bob jervis explains this in terms of what political scientists call prospect theory. prospect theory says that people, all people, not just policymakers, all people are most inclined to be big risktakers when they face defeat. in my in my opinion you don't need prospect theory to explain this decision. you only need to know the personality and character of george w. bush. he was a proud, confident, intelligent, stubborn man who believed his credibility and reputation as president would be forever blemished if he "lost
the war in iraq he believed the credibility and reputation of the united states would be forever blemished if the country "lost the war." what i want to hear from you, bush allegedly said to the joint chiefs, what i want to hear from you is how we are going to win, not how we are going to leave. president bush received some evidence that the surge could work. he found out that five brigades could be made available. he was informed the brigades could be used in an effective manner in and around baghdad. he learned about the sunni awakening. he met with -- he felt that he could work with the iraqi leader. the odds however were still low. everyone seems to have thought
it was still a real gamble. really gutsy. that is why the book is called "the last card." a key question is, when odds are low, does it make sense to take such a risk? i think this is a really significant issue all the time, not just in this decision. when the odds are low how do you know you should take such a risk? seems like ofit course it worked out, but the odds going into it were perceived as rather low. did it make sense to take such a risk? president bush thought so. he felt the disastrous outcome stemming from withdrawal or defeat was far more consequential than the chips he was about to invest. the surge might not work, but if
it failed, his reputation and record would not be much worse than it already was. the surge might not work, but if it failed, the reputation and record of the united states would not be so much worse than it already was as a result of the imbroglio in iraq. decision revealed -- does the decision reveal a skilled policymaker rather than a lucky one? i don't think so, for the following reasons. president bush's actions were terribly belated. since the fall of, if not in may -- the fall of 2003, if not in may 2003, observers grasped that the security situation in iraq
was perilous. there were 12,000 civilian deaths in 2003. almost the same number in 2004. 16,000 civilian deaths in 2005, and 29,000 in 2006. and from the onset, local commanders like general sanchez and civilian officials like paul bremmer, the head of the coalition provisional authority, as well as pentagon leaders, like the army vice chief of staff general keane they all , warned that there were inadequate forces. president bush was slow to deliver those forces. president bush was hamstrung by donald rumsfeld, his secretary of defense.
staunch commitment to a lean force stifled an early re-examination of policy. president bush left his secretary of defense in office far too long. the secretary of defense was hated by many. -- by many inside the pentagon and inside the state department. rumsfeld was a vicious and condescending person. his lines of communication with the coalition provisional authority had been terrible. rumsfeld belatedly assumed responsibility for the torture at abu ghraib. he offered to resign. president bush refused to accept his resignation. the president said no again in
2006 because of the so-called revolt of the generals would have made bush look weak. but rumsfeld was critiqued because his performance was deplorable. the president should have fired him. failure to do so was a grave error. bush was slow to augment overall third, forces. lots of generals and admirals in the pentagon opposed the surge because it was supposedly break the force. finally, president bush skillfully garnered their ascent by promising to enlarge troop 2006 inover all in late exchange for jcs support of the surge. if this was good policy then,
and it is emphasized that it was very good policy why was it so , belated? why did it not take place earlier? when president bush went to war, and in my view that decision was understandable. when he went to war president bush never gave enough thought to the postwar situation in iraq. the president assented to the consequential decisions like the disbandonment of the iraqi army without deliberative processes in the spring of 2003. those decisions have terrible long-term ramifications. finally, president bush's definition of interests and strategic goals like
, democratization, were elusive, grandiose, and ultimately unachievable. as some of the commentators said in the previous session, americans have to understand the limits of their power. that was not understood. consequently i would say the tactical success of 2006 and 2007 is dwarfed by the strategic miscalculations and bureaucratic dysfunctionality that had beleaguered the bush presidency since its inception. the just-published official history of the army in iraq, and it is about 1300 pages long, filled with citations to real documents and extensive interviews. it was commissioned by general
odierno himself and approved by the current chairman of the joint chiefs of staff before he took that position. the official history concludes on the last page in the following manner. "the failure of the united states to achieve its strategic objectives in iraq was not inevitable. it came as a byproduct of a long series of decisions, acts of commission and omission, made by well-trained and intelligent leaders making what seems to be reasonable decisions. at one point in the waning days of the surge, the change of strategy and the sacrifices of many thousands of americans and iraqis had finally tipped the
scales enough to put the military campaign on a path towards a measure of success. however, it was not to be. the compounding of fact of earlier mistakes combined with a series of decisions focused on war termination ultimately doomed the fragile venture. when i think about the surge, that is the conclusion by which i would concur. [applause] >>so my -- i have the civil military chapter in the book. as i was reading through the interview, the thing that struck me so strongly was how desperately i wish i could have
worked in this administration. because the process was elegant. i disagreed with much of the criticism of the 2006 decision. it seems to me an incredibly decision for the president to have to make and for the process worked in a way that helps the president to where he wanted. i say i wish i worked in that it administration. did work in the bush i actuallydid work in the bush administration from 2002 to 2005. i had such envy reading these interviews because so much had changed. that is where i disagree with mel. he is acting as though there is a continual, in particular in the president's own behavior. i have three points i want to make. the first is that there were not serious civil military difficulties in the run-up to
the surge. 2006 there were very serious civil-civil difficulties, mostly in the form of the secretary of defense. i want to talk about that the second thing i want to talk about is a misconception, i think, that the process labored under about civil military affairs and in particular the , way that the principal actors, except for the president, conflated how they dealt with active-duty military and how they dealt with veterans, retired military personnel speaking out and criticism of the administration. the third thing i want to talk about is hadley's dictum. and steve hadley, in a different context, gave a fundamental insight about government processes. which is they have to actually
suit how the president takes on information and how they make decisions. that is what is so beautiful. what i envy so much in listening to the interviews from all of these people. because the nsc found a way to make it possible for the president to make it very difficult, very politically fraught decision. let me talk a little bit about these. problem,e civil-civil which is the secretary of defense. i think he came up in several people's comments. i don't agree that the process was clandestine. secretary rumsfeld knew the review was going on. he declined to participate because he did not agree with revisiting the strategy. in fact one of the most things that was most shocking to me was in the aftermath of the samara mosque attack, that is the
moment of realization for everyone in the administration that the strategy is failing. if we proceed on this course, it will be pointless. everyone but the secretary of defense, his reaction to it is that it's an affirmation of the nature of the struggle, not that the strategy is failing. i think that is a window into why secretary rumsfeld was such an impediment to getting the strategy for the war right. which is that the secretary of fundamental job is translating the president's political objectives into military plans. and resourcing their execution. they judgment much of failure between 2003 and 2006 actually sits at secretary
rumsfeld's feet. condi rice says in interviews that the plan for the invasion was inadequately resourced. the secretary of defense was evasive when she and other members of the cabinet tried to press him on things like the stability. if you have a warplane that is rapid and city skipping how do how do you create the objective of a stable iraq after regime change. vice president cheney acknowledges in his interview there is a disconnect between stability and secretary rumsfeld's desire to radically drawdown forces. point reinforce one mel says, which is secretary rice in the interview said i have not really done the kind of we perhaps should have done.
that is the difference between 2003 and 2006 and the different outcomes. after the samara shock, the joint chiefs of staff start to review in theater and at headquarters and in the pentagon. the process begins to move. again, i wish i worked in that administration. it was an elegance of orchestration to produce the reconsideration. but as late as october of 2006, secretary rumsfeld was saying the war in iraq is not going as badly as people said and more troops would not make a difference. his recommendation into the process was to accelerate the drawdown of troops in iraq. secretary rice said the reason
-- at that time national security advisor rice said the reason she did not discuss the reviews on their way was the cabinet did not want to provoke the secretary of defense. that is such a colossal failure on the secretary of defense claws at myhat it heart the cost it had. the second point i want to make is the suppose a general -- generalst -- supposed revolt. civil and military relations in the u.s. are structured the way they are with the unquestionable subordination of the military to elected civilian leadership. it is gestured that way in order to prevent a standing army from becoming a threat to democracy. that is why civil-military relations are such a big subject and why the american model gives our military such wide latitude in the making of policy.
but that is contingent on the unquestioned acceptance that they will do what the elected political leadership decides. i saw nothing anywhere in any of the interviews that said there would be difficulty but that. the white house staff understandably was worried about the military not supporting the strategy. and the decision about where are , we are going to get the troops is a difficult one. i did not see any signs that there was an actual reason to be concerned about subordination in the military. that is a beautiful thing. be very grateful for it. where i am critical of the decisions is the conflation on the part of many in the white house, with the exception of the president himself that these , retired military officers
speaking out, calling for rumsfeld to be fired. that rumsfeld could not be fired for six months. that would be a violation of civil-military norms. that is actually not true. i love that the person who had it right was the president himself. who said i am not going to do anything different based on what these guys say. and he also made the distinction of treating them as just another political actor. which is the right way to treat veterans when they engage in the political process. they are just another political actor and the president had that exactly right. so treating it as a civil-military judgment may make
-- complicates what needs to be done. the third point, hadley's dictum. what is different between 2003 and 2006 and comes through so beautifully and pointedly in the interviews is that the president took ownership of the process and the president took ownership of the outcome. josh bolton, the white house chief of staff said, the president i saw at those war meetings was noticeably different than the one i saw in every other context. this is before the surge. the white house chief of staff said the president was deferential to the military posey views. -- militaries views. -- military's views. he did not have the confidence and rigor of challenge that he had in other circumstances. the president was solicitous of
the military's views. all of this is before the process of the nsc set in motion. i agree with the white house chief of staff josh bolton. steve hadley deserves the credit for making the process amenable to the president to get him wider apertures of information. megan and peter deserve a lot of credit in this as well. i struggle to think at different national security advisor, one deceiveections thi hadley, would have been able to align the pieces such that all these things happened. came from theenge chief of staff of the army that we don't have the forces, i thought it was actually striking. this is not recounted by the president. it is recounted by several other people in the interviews that
the president when confronted with the chief of staff saying i fear this will rake the army, the president posey rebuttal to that was losing a war will break an army. that is exactly commander-in-chief stature. as condi rice said, george w. bush was a different president in 2006 then he was in 2003. that comes through really powerfully for me in the interviews. let me close with something president bush did say in the interviews, which i think sums up really nicely why this worked as well as it did. jobh is that the military's is to figure out how to win. the president's job is to figure out if we want to win. that is what happened in 2006. [applause] >> good afternoon.
it came up earlier if academics can or can't admit that they made a mistake and got something wrong. in my case, there is no way around that. my students always remind me. i am always making predictions are saying this will probably happen. or this can't happen. and i get it wrong more often that i get it right. i think my students for -- i think my students for constantly reminding me of that. i want to thank the organizers. all of the people who accounted -- who have gone into putting on this wonderful event in stimulating day, not just in putting together the oral histories, and not just in terms of editing the book. thank you to all of you for sticking around for six hours of really intense, detailed discussion.
of something that is complicated. i was expecting the room to -- i thank you for sticking around for me, the last speaker before the keynote event. i was expecting the room to empty out by the time we get to the last speaker. i want to thank the organizers for allowing me to be part of this amazing project where we -- where we got advance access to these incredible oral histories. i do have some issues with them and the project itself, and i will get them later. the end product is this incredible resource that historians will be coming back to again and again in the coming years. not just for american historic -- not just for american foreign-policy -- foreign policy, and policymaking in the human east -- in the middle east but students of american politics. and the politics of national security.
oral reading all of the histories, it has been illuminating and enthralling. i will try and touch some of the other chapters as i look at my own. my own chapter looks at the parallels between the vietnam war and iraq. because, those parallels are striking and many. i had been invited to think about this historically. not --t book, and i have i've written not only a book, but several articles on american policymaking in vietnam. especially in the 1961 through 1966 period. that is the way i would approach these oral histories. initially i thought that is what i had to do. i had a little bit of skepticism as to whether that would hold. i knew there were lots of parallels. but i didn't know what i would find in oral histories.
the more i read the oral histories not only were there , lots of unspoken parallels and links, but the policymakers and military personnel who gave these oral histories talked about vietnam constantly. it pops up again and again in the oral histories. oralted from those histories when they referred to vietnam a lot, but not as much as i could have. the point of the chapter isn't that iraq was another vietnam. that is both true and untrue. but examining the surge through through the lens of vietnam can help us examine policymaking in iraq. i am particularly interested in by the and intrigued notions of victory, specifically by the surge in thousand seven, which was all account successful, which meant that we had won the war. that comes up constantly this
, refrain of we are going to win comes up constantly. not only are we not going to lose, but we are going to win, and this helps the united she -- united states achieve victory. that, why a to chapter on vietnam, i would like to say a little bit more on that, other than the uncanny similarities and frequent refrains that we find in the oral histories. in vietnam, lyndon johnson faced two critical moments when he was asked to surge troops. the first time came in july 1965. it is a product of decision-making that began in 1964 and really kicked off in february -- january, 1965 when his national security advisor and secretary of defense went to the president and said, the current policy is unsustainable. we either have to get out or we -- we do not want to do, and hear the reasons we should not. or, we have to go in much
bigger. johnson initiated a review process and discussion process. that culminated on july 28, 1965 when johnson americanized the war by announcing a surge, and he did not use the word surge, effectively announcing a surge of u.s. troops. and then johnson was faced with , another decision in february over whether to surge troops marchtnam in february and of 1968 in the wake of the tet offensive. to a lot of people around the world, the south vietnamese and the united states had suffered a calamitous setback, if not an overwhelming defeat. bud, the u.s. military personnel vietnamround in south said this is an opportunity and we have to be on the run, we are pushing them on -- we are pushing them back, they are not making gains.
we need tens of thousands of more u.s. troops to consolidate gains. in this case, johnson initiated -- unlike 1965, johnson initiated a review process and decided not to surge troops. decidedhe opposite, he to begin a drawdown, and he halted operation rolling thunder. the bombing campaign against north vietnam and announced that he would not seek or accept the democratic party's nomination and would not run for reelection. there -- so what i wanted to do with iraq with the decision to surge troops was examine bush's decision in light of johnson's decision. there were all kinds of other ways i could have approached the parallels. there is the obvious issue of nationbuilding. which occurred in both countries and ran into problems. there is the other side of the coin.
this is encounter surgery -- counterinsurgency. we have talked about the vietnamization and a brief time with iraqization. this notion that as we stand down, they stand up. we will support the vietnamese military. and, build them up and train them, and provide them with the hardware that they need, and the same thing was going on in iraq. and then, ambassador aleman referred to what we might call the specter or or shadow and thinking about whether to get rid of him. he was the south vietnamese leader that was overthrown in a u.s. sponsored coup by a -- junta of generals. the policymakers, almost to a
person, as well as historians , whether they were hawks, german -- or doves pretty much , everybody agreed that that was the critical error. the sponsor and overthrow, and to not have a plan on who would follow and for the instability that followed, that was probably predictable. that is what drew the u.s. into the war. and, if you are a hawk, that is a mistake because it drew the united states into the war on shaky ground and on terms that made the u.s. occupation of south vietnam look legitimate. there are all kinds of ways we could explore iraq in light of vietnam. i have done so because of the project, thinking about how johnson went about deciding whether to surge troops were not in 1965-1968. i want to touch on three conclusions that i draw from this examination, that i flush
out in greater detail in the book. one is about process. which's -- when i started my chapter, when i was invited to examine these oral histories and write my chapter, my first book was on mcgeorge bundy, national security advisor to kennedy and johnson. bundy really invented the position of national security advisor as he know it today -- as we know it today. he did not invented himself, but he made the national security advisor. that is when people started referring to the position in those terms rather than as a special assistant to the president for national security affairs. that was my original work. i looked at bundy and the nsc staff and their role in the escalation of the war. i am already a process nerd in a historical sense. i knew that i would be looking at process. what has struck me today was how often process comes up again and again from the practitioners and scholars.
, and youake richard's do not want to disagree with him on anything that has to do with eisenhower, and i do not disagree with him, to me the , process for the surge worked despite its idiosyncrasies and the fact that you might not draw it up exactly like that on the drawing board. a genuine consensus was reached even when opponents were brought in to the process. they were brought in in a way to -- to buy into the decide -- the decision. he reach a consensus when did not beforehand. i think stephen hadley gets all the praise he has been getting. this process had a lot of idiosyncrasies. it was designed to neutralize ers like donnd rumsfeld, who disagreed with the policy and wanted to do something else. it certainly was a better
process, even if it was not perfect then what happened in 2002, and 2003. we have discussed that, so i do not wanted d labor that thinking point. about vietnam, good process does not always produce good policy. vietnam at that time was an -- in 1964-1965 was a classic example. unlike conventional wisdom, there was no consensus for war in elite circles in washington in 1964. there was no assumption that because we were fighting communists in south vietnam and -- in vietnam, and we had a long-standing commitment there, we would go to war. there were all sorts of people who were arguing against sending -- advocating, and not only arguing against sending troops, as the secretary of state dean rusk did, but many people said we should get out. and the one person who is always held up as an example was the under secretary of state, but
lots of people in congress and the media and the joint chiefs of staff. there was no groupthink, no sleepwalkers. instead if there was a , consensus, it had to be forged. the person who did that was mcgeorge bundy, the national security advisor. when you read the oral histories from the johnson era, almost -- the memoirs and the accounts, almost no complaints, even the people who lost out, almost nobly complains about mcgeorge bundy, in similar ways in that people have praised stephen hadley, they talk about how fair-minded he was and yes he had his own policy views, and was slightly tipping the scales, not in an unfair way but making his views known to the president that this is what we should do in vietnam. nobody felt, almost nobody, there were a couple of people. nobody felt like their views
were not heard and so on and so forth. and yet, this process that produced consensus produced what almost everybody would agree was a disastrous policy result. good process does not always lead to good policy, and richard has contributed a chapter to this book and wrote -- i think it may have been his first book, but it -- but he cowrote a book "the irony of vietnam: the system worked." sometimes bad process leads to a policy outcome. i also think of the decision in 1968 when johnson decided not to surge troops. that was a terrible process, you had a new secretary of state who not only sidelined the existing secretary of state and national security advisor -- advisor, who had been there. rusk served all eight years.
beenat time, ross dow had national security advisor for two years. clark clifford is brand-new and he signed lines secretary of state and the national security advisor and the president. that is the remarkable thing about the decision about johnson's decision not to surge troops is that he wanted to, he wanted to grant general west moreland's -- mustmoreland's request, and the process worked out no way that he did not think to do so. he famously said "who poisoned the well?" there are people who argue that westmoreland was right, but not many people agree with that, i certainly do not. i think the good policy outcome would be to begin disengagement. sometimes bad process can begin good policy. while the surge process about
iraq produced a good operational income with bush, and with skill for leadership, it -- skillful leadership, it did not solve the larger problems. a good process does not address all of the concerns. i want to draw another analogy vietnam. the oral histories highlight the a volatileat in environment, security comes before sociopolitical reform. you can try political and social reform, but if the security situation is volatile, you need to provide security. that provided much of the conceptual basis. ambassador earlier referred to a great phrase that captures this idea. you need to reach a security threshold if you want to go on and to go on and do more reform. logick there is a lot of to that. i think it is irrefutable.
that same logic led modernization theorists in spent theirwho had entire careers arguing for social and economic, and political reforms and providing elaborate models on how we would going -- we were going to do that. that same logic led people to argue about the americanization of the war for vietnam to stabilize matters in the short term to provide a basis for reform. between 1965 and 1968, and between the two decisions to surge, all that did was conceal the greater strategic problems that loomed over everything. decision to surge troop in july 65 stopped the freefall and downward spiral of security and stability. you had that threshold, but then what? after that, nothing could happen.
it was not a modernization of south vietnamese society. even after reading these oral histories and the discussions, i find it difficult to believe that iraq could have escaped that fate too. the second thing i would like to discuss is the problem with the concept of collective memory. not the method, although there are problems with oral histories endemic to the genre. every historian knows that, and i do not mean the humor in -- the human errors, i am talking about the nature of collective memory. behind the oral histories and the title of the project there is an assumption that it is something to be discovered. and then it is neutral. once you have this collective memory, you can get at the truth about something, and i think that is problematic. collective memory is not usually organic. the memories a society has of the past that are benign and
just grow up and emerge is not collective management -- memory. sometimes it is, that is usually closer to nostalgia. it does occur, not naturally. it has to be made and forged. it is a social process and political construction, and it does not happen out of nothing. that is what the oral history participants for this project were doing, they were creating a collective memory to give a particular policy an air or veneer of legitimacy, a seal of approval. in the collective memory forged here was that the search was not only successful, which i think is not really contested, i do not contest it, it was successful in reducing violence. it was not simply that the surge was successful, what was being forged was that the surge achieved victory for america in iraq that people later on threw away.
true, ther may not be collective memory oral histories do not prove that and there is an assumption of the people who gave these oral histories that that is self-evident. that victory was obtained. that brings me to my third and final point was that the surge cannot be considered a victory because it was a means to the end, not the end. i was not the war itself, and -- i agree with what mel said on that note. the surge was a success, there was no question. yet, it may have created conditions for victory, but that is up for debate. i am in agreement richard in his chapter in the book on whether the time the surge bought was valuable. he writes, "how long is long enough to count? was it enough time and would any time be able to mold a rack into
something that would enable u.s. withdraw in good order? policymakers face that question in vietnam. pretty surewe are that we know that there was not enough time, never enough time. there was no amount of time to achieve in vietnam what americans wanted to achieve, and i suspect the same is true in iraq. here the analogy to lbj helps some more, because by the same logic that says the surge was a total victory, not the means, at the end, it would've allowed lbj to say "i have won the vietnam war i have surge troops and stops the freefall. south vietnam has not collapsed, we have won in the job is over." the job was not over and lbj ended up losing. i would say, after reading these oral histories, the surge got
the united states back to square one, to a position that it faced in the spring of 2003. it did not win anything in and of itself, it just brought the war back to a congestion of the previous period and four years of violence, turmoil, and damage to american credibility had not happened. they had. it is a situation lbj would have recognized. there is tremendous value to the oral histories and i would recommend you to read and buy the book. it is an incredible piece of scholarship and primary source for historians that will be of use for future generations. i will certainly come back to these oral histories again and again, that we have to remember that they are only part of the story, not the whole story. thank you. [applause]
>>alright, i and my temporary chair have lots of questions and little time and there might be a number of questions from the audience, perhaps from some of our previous panelists. i will defend just dispense with the four pages of potential comments and questions, and i to thet one question other panelists, which you can take in any number of directions because this may or may not elaborate on the number of themes that came up. after this, we will turn it over to the audience. two historical episodes were mentioned and focused on by a couple of you in the chapters, particularly in eisenhower and
vietnam in the lbj administration. i wonder for the three historians and the defective fourth historian ds -- de facto fourth historian, if there is anything we can do in comparing and contrasting the surge decision and any four episodes from relatively recently american history. the first might be in-kissinger and their decision -- nixon and kissinger. i think nixon and kissinger showed that there wasn't one, one, you- there was can leave the war and lose it. what is there from that episode? the second might be focused on the carter administration and desert wind. the reagan administration in beirut. is there anything in that process, and neil alex evans has
written a good article on that. i am sure that you might be familiar with it. the fourth might be george h w bush in the fall of 1990 deciding to go to war in the fort -- the first gulf war, which is in hindsight seen as a great success, but public opinion, judging from the close senate vote, was not on their side, and he had resistance from his cabinet. up anyyou want to take of those and see if they might illustrate what we are looking at? i will pass it on down. >> you have stumped the panel. >> i will just say something to nixon comparison and kissinger.
you seem to be saying that they decided to withdraw. i am not sure if i would characterize their actions that way. they made certain -- i believe in 1969on and kissinger operated in some ways in a similar manner. they were looking for tactical initiatives that would enable what theyhieve regarded as victory, and the independent,n south vietnam. and the way they thought that they could do it, most giving into was by the desire for a draw die own, but at the same time -- a draw down, but at the same time
escalating. it is wrong to see 1969 as withdraw, while there -- when they were in many ways intensifying the bombing and expanding the war significantly into cambodia, laos, and intensifying the bombing of north vietnam with the same elusive goal of victory as they perceived it. sense, there are tactical similarities, but the preoccupation, and i think it is a legitimate preoccupation with credibility and the nation's credibility and reputation, and their personal credibility and reputation, those things remained at stake, and these are very agonizing decisions. i would not say that there is a
significant discrepancy. >> i want to add one to your list, which is the reagan administration's decision to pull out of lebanon after the bobbing -- bombing of the human headquarters. >> that was one. >> i was panic stricken going through them, and i missed it. both with the carter's administrations decision after desert one and the decision after nap -- lebanon is that they cast a long shadow about the capability of the american military to manage the wars in which they were fighting, and one of the enormously beneficial consequences of the 2006 decision was a reminder that if you give the american military time to figure out what they were doing, they can figure it out. the adaptability of the american military is proven.
the criticism that i think is incredibly damming and legitimate in 2003 was how come nobody anticipated that a weaker adversary would pick an asymmetric -- asymmetric side -- strategy and drive the cost up? it is a classic position. what you see as a consequence of incredibles an flourishing of creativity, adaptability, and a generation of military leaders that come out of that that think and much more limber ways about the nation -- nature and use of military force to achieve objectives. >> of those four examples, one does not belong, and that was the last one that was successful. that was president h w bush. the first thing our failures. if there contesting
surge was not a failure, we are contesting that -- >> i think it was a success. with the four examples, the first three were failures in the first one was a success, i do not think there is a coincidence that there is a strong correlation between process and outcome. the first three you have the most dysfunctional national security -- the most dysfunctional systems, if you want to call them that are under nixon, carter, and reagan. leadsailure of process directly to those failures of policy. and, of course in george h w bush, the process is where it is, textbook. you get a good policy outcome. the strategic questions are still there and we can still ask them. i think there is a strong correlation, and for a little bit of defense in nixon and kissinger, and these are smart people.
the staff and advisors certainly in the nixon and carter administrations were smart people. it is really dysfunctional. under nixon and kissinger it is dysfunctional, that also is necessary for the brilliance of the opening of china, china am not sure it could've happened review anderagency bringing everyone in. think a key when we discuss this is how do we define success and failure, how do we define what worked or did not work. they thought i was saying that the surge was a failure. i do not think the surge was a failure, i thought i made it clear. the surge was an operational access, atac equal success -- tactical success.
iraqiolutely reduced civilian deaths and eliminated, for a while, attacks on american soldiers. the key question to my mind, and i think that andrew and i were on the same line of thinking, is whether that operational and tactical success means that there was an overall strategic success. >> i want to litigate this. >> we should litigate this. issue here is many thele, and this relates to comments about collective history of an administration or collective memory, that we should highlight the surge and think that president bush was not the decision-maker in 2006,
or 2007 that he was in 2003, and, therefore, we should have a favorable view of the administration of george w. bush, and i think, in the long people going to really remember the surge? or are they going to remember the initial decision to invade iraq that turned out to be so flawed? and that is not because -- i am not saying that it was misconceived. i think it turned out to be theed partly because national security decision-making process worked so badly. way, you think, by the keep saying that president bush was different in 2006 and 2007 then he was in 2003.
he took control with the decision and the outcome. i do think president bush was different in 2000 six and 2007 because of the experience he had gone through. 2003, he took responsibility for the decision and the outcome. he was very pleased initially to do so, and he was a guy who thought that he was in control, and that this would work. it turned out that many of the decisions that he made, i would say right after the invasion, turned out to be incredibly flawed, and that is why in the official history when they say -- when it concludes with a focus on decisions that were made that were never sufficiently overcome. i think that that pulsates through the entire course of the
administration, and suggests an inability to have the capabilities to achieve the strategic goal of supposedly andcraticization nationbuilding. >> much of what you say is enormously persuasive, especially the point that was with a long view of the decision in 2003, it will be the decision that frames the bush administration. 2006 think the surge in was more than a tactical or operational success, was that as the security situation iraqis start 2007, to practice normal politics. , crossrt to get voting politicalvoting, and compromise that was not a feature ever before, and that is
the strategic stance. >> i just want to make two quick points, and first of all, i am not going to enter into the debate on whether it was a strategic success, because i am not ready to reach that conclusion yet. i think, again, that is a problem for the benefit of being a historian. me with ay, microphone is a dangerous thing because i tend to scream. to leave thatnt for a verdict. the other thing i want to say in terms of these different cases that perhaps we have not discussed as much is the timeframe in which the policy process is being played out. and, a number of the cases that you mentioned, it was really telescoped compared to this
issue. here, i think there was an advantage for how long it took for the process to unfold. in many cases, particularly in kissinger-nixon, if you talk l.t. is ana or s.a. great example of a policy process over years. despite dysfunctionality of the process, i think it ended up, again i am not sure if it was a strategic success, but i think the policy unfolded in a way that served the president well. for questions from the audience. right behind you, right there. murrell, and iob spent 2.5 years in combat in vietnam. first time, as you were talking about, was with the surge
february of 1968 with the 82nd airborne division. we went over there, and i would like to know if anybody is aware of a single major battle in vietnam that the u.s. military lost. and i would venture to say zero. we lost that war, not because of the military, but because of political decisions that were made in the u.s.. with studiesr was and observations group. i do not know if you know anything about them because it was a top-secret organization that did cross-border reconnaissance into laos, cambodia, and north vietnam. it is no longer classified, which is why i can talk about it. in 1970 and 1971,
nixon started using protocols on us that significantly reduced our ability to defend ourselves when we were in those countries. -- he that because he was did that because he was preparing to go into china and open it up, and he did not want to threaten china. so, if you have any comments on that, i would appreciate it. i take your point about winning the battles and losing the war. the that is because military strategy required a level of resources, including a period of time that was beyond what was politically salable for the president. and, one of the things that is so impressive about the decision to initiate the surge is that
,hey managed to beat the clock that is that the american public was growing ready to stop doing that, and they managed to correct course in a way that the civilian leadership had not managed to correct the course in time to say -- to stay ahead of public disgruntlement. >> thanks for those comments and insights. i would only add to it that i agree with you that the war was lost for reasons of politics, but i would say the more important place to look was in indochina rather than the politics of the united states. i am thinking of the process of vietnamization. you were literally there, i was not. but from everything i know about the rest ofd, with the south vietnamese military, was that they were built up to
this incredibly large force and were trained well by 1975 and were the fourth-largest air forces in the world, just south vietnam, and they are not a good fighting force. thatse they have, by point, very little legitimacy. the political process has almost no legitimacy, and when they are tested in 1970 and especially in 1971 in laos, and 1972 with the easter offensive, it is a route. -- rout. they just get the hell beaten out of them. if it was not for the u.s. military, the war would have ended much earlier and vietnam would've been reunified in 1971 or something like that. that leads me to believe that if you are in that kind of situation where you are dealing with political, cultural, and
social issues that are beyond the capability of the u.s. military, no matter how effective it is, if you are to say, we will do whatever it takes to win, u.s. military would still be there refereeing a civil war in which the united states does not have the answers to vietnamese questions. i agree with you, the reasons the failure and political, but in vietnam. >> i just want to add one thing to that, which relates to what andrew said in his presentation. westmorelandliam inuested 205,000 more troops february 1968, he fully expected to get them. earl weaver fully expected him to get there. interestingly, clark clifford, was brought in as secretary
because, johnson expected that he would approve it. his reason for not approving, and he did staff it out, and he was explicit, was that congress was not going to support it at that point. in fact, there are really remarkable parallels between what was going on in congress at the same time, and i think they are right in terms of beating the clock. vietnam, the horse had left the stable as far as kissinger did, and that was poisoning the well and why johnson was so surprised. it was political and had nothing to do. westmoreland said we have gotten them on the ropes, otis knocked them out, and there was the gold crisis -- let us knock them out now. and it was the gold prices. and it was considered that this was politically unviable at that
point. >> the general said that we would have won if we did not have the political problems in the u.s., we would have won. i mean, it is interesting, we can go on for this. -- also we no longer had a player, which happens to be in what we have learned over the last several years. larry, university at dallas. i enjoyed your talk, you talked about rumsfeld and how they were involved in the process. no one mentioned much about cheney, and we have seen movies and stuff that talked about what he did. how do you feel that cheney was involved in this?
>> actually, that is a good question for the policymakers themselves who were involved, and observed it. presume to really be able to answer your question with any degree of authority. my sense is that vice president cheney was not a the eventsayer in leading up to the surge, he was obviously a participant. -- i also feel, contrary to most people, that vice president cheney was not the determinative factor in 2002
and 2003 as well. belief, a lot of especially amongst critics of the war, that cheney was manipulating the process. everything i have learned about decision-making in the united states suggests to me that the president always makes the decision. and, almost everything suggests knows,hat the president and everyone around him knows that he is the person who is going to make the decision, and there is an institutionalized, enormous deference, as there should be, to the president. think, and a may be wrong, but when i read the thingsews, one of the
that strikes me as a reader and, steve will talk about this this evening and peter has his own views. to me, when i read literally the iserviews, what is striking that they knew what president and theyly wanted, knew that president bush did " not want to lose," whatever that might mean. whatever thatin, might mean. and steve illuminates in the essay, and interview as well how incredibly skillful he was. and i am incredibly appreciated of the process -- appreciative of the process that he was able to ensure this option into a
process in which all of the key players did not want to consider it. that took enormous scale. but the point is that, i think, the people who were closest to bush knew what he wanted, probably vice president cheney also knew what the president wanted, and probably also agreed with it. feelingtely have the not theney is determinative factor into thousand 64 2007, -- in 2006, and 2003.r 2002, >> just to add, it comes through clearly in the interviews that vice president cheney is bringing in alternative people for the president to talk to, retired generals, some of the
people from the american enterprise institute who were doing thinking about that. he was not marginal to the process, but i agree with the judgment that he is not this asming, dangerous figure characterized in a lot of movies. just amovie about it is ridiculous movie. [laughter] >> we have time for one final question and it will go to one of our hosts who cannot turn down. first, i would like to say, no matter what you think of the moral, it is entertaining. i would like to ask a question to this team's historians and i would like you not to question the question. because you could, and that would lead us down a far more interesting rabbit hole -- not
interesting, deeper than whether 66 is 65, 66, 65 -- applicable. the question is, when the history of the surge is written, what do you think people will draw as the principal lesson? remember, you cannot question the question. who wants to go first. >> i would just reiterate my basic theme, tactical success and operational success does not dwarf overall strategic failure. and the reasons why there was strategic failure are very complex and relate back to as well as aions deeper understanding of the societyties of iraqi
that had not been appreciated and could not be overcome. i think people will say what i think is striking in the book, that it was in fact a tactical success shaped by incredibly good process that worked in a very narrow way, and maybe that is all that one could have been to zepeda. it is hard to know, because the administration leaves. is tacticallyrge most successful. what would have happened subsequently if the bush administration where there? it is really hard to say, especially in the context that no one should ever forget is that there is a catastrophic financial price that is going on
simultaneously -- financial crisis going on simultaneously. i think it would be interesting to compare president bush, the decision-maker in iraq 2007 through 2008 with president bush the decision-maker in the financial crisis, and i wonder -- i have no idea what conclusions would come from that, what i think it would be interesting, and would help people sort of come to some larger generalizations about the president as a decision-maker. be somewhat more narrow because i am still not willing to make a judgment about the strategic. but as someone who's -- she was someone who will still not accept that this is such a good process. thetake away for me is that
individuals who populate the process are more important than the process itself. >> you will notice richard's refusal to take a stand, and it reminds me of the little vignette when henry kissinger was talking and kissinger said to him, what do you think of the french revolution? toosal says it is still early to tell. >> i think the lesson will be a reaffirmation of what edmund that the use of force alone is but temporary, it may subdue for a moment but it does not remove the necessity to subdue again and society is not to be governed that must perpetually be conquered," >> i cannot believe i have to follow that. i do not know about lessons, but i know that when people do the
history of the surge, they will think of what might have been if this process had been in place in 2003 and if the people had been there. what i keptt is thinking reading the oral histories and of this book. thinking, it would have been different in a better way. >> i believe our time is up, at least for this session. before you join me in a round of applause, and you will do that. our panel may be up, but edification is not. we will resume at 7:30 in this room? a lot of hard questions have been raised, a lot of controversial opinions voiced, all of that will be resolved by steve hadley, so do not miss that. >> however, to hear steve
hadley, i recommend you go to the auditorium, which is where the keynote will be held. and, there will be a reception beforehand, and i cannot thank everyone here enough for not only putting in a long day, but a productive day, and to everyone who made this project possible, whether you were involved or a person who studied. thank you very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> they say the panhandle of texas is the only place we can run away for two weeks. >> on majority would not exist if it were not for the coming of the railroads. [whistling] ♪
tour is-span cities exploring the american story. this wick -- this week and we traveled to amarillo, texas. >> it is in the center of the panhandle. we affectionately call ourselves the capital city of the panhandle. i think our superpower in the city of amarillo is that we think regionally. >> with the help of our cable partners we will learn about the history and literary life of the city and surrounding area as we talk with local authors and visit historic sites. >> the state park today is a lot like it has been for thousands of years. all of a sudden you come across this huge drop into the earth. it is the second largest canyon after the grant.
>> she was here twice between 1912 and 1914 teaching for the public school system. through 1918, she came back and got a faculty position. write,es artists do not but o'keefe wrote. this book can teach us so much more about this artist, struggling with rings that you can imagine yourself struggling with. it is so relatable. she is not this antiwar speaker. 5:30 on bookday at tv and then on sunday at 2:00 p.m. on c-span3's american history tv as the cities tour takes you to amarillo, texas. weekend, david mills and kayla west red talk about their book "great wartime escapes and rescues." they focused on world war ii
prisoners of war and concentration camps. here is a preview. story, of you know this and probably parts of it from the great escape. it was pretty fictionalized, but it was entertaining. and you mentioned the cooler king, because this was the character that steve mccain steve mcqueen was based upon. he was known as the cooler king because he was captured and escaped several times. he was a native texan who had volunteered for the royal canadian air force and earned his pilots wings, and a commission and went to britain to fly spitfires. he was first shot down in france. he was one of the most heavily punished prisoners in world war ii, spending six months in solitary confinement. came after ant prank. the guards were trying to count
the prisoners, and several of the men started milling around, so if you have ever tried to count kindergartners, it is very similar. the guards did not find it funny and he ended up in the cooler. that was his first experience. then he tried to escape and was caught hiding in the shower room and was hoping that they would not notice who was that he was gone. he got two weeks for that. the camp became overcrowded. he was sent to another camp 150 miles to the northeast in poland. about the day he got there, he tried to escape. on -- unloading a train, rolled underneath, and ran, they caught him and put him in the cooler. during this time he had secured a little file and was trying to get out of his cell when they caught him a second time. another two weeks. you see a pattern here.
he gets out of the cooler and tries to cut through the fence with wire cutters. that time he did not get caught his two compiled rate -- compadres did. caught,led out, and was and spent 10 days in the cooler. he did escape and was on the loose for a couple of weeks. again, and was caught and they said he was going -- they were going to execute him because he was problematic. instead they sent him back. while he was in the cooler that time is when the great escape took place. he could not participate because he was in the cooler at the time. during world about war two escapes and rescues sunday at 6:30 p.m. eastern on american history tv. next, we hear a discussion about how our understanding of the holocaust has evolved since the end of world war ii.
scholars talk about the ways in which people engage with and learn about the holocaust, on the internet and in classrooms, historic sites and museums. the lepage center for history at villanova university in pennsylvania hosts the event. >> >> for those of you who are joining us for the first time, my name is jason and i am the center for history and the public interest here at villanova university. how many of your joining us for the first time? quite a few. welcome. we are delighted you are here. briefly, the center is a and ourly new project mission is to bring to bear on a -- a host of contemporary issues. we host