A thoroughgoing study of the war that, suggests former New York Daily News editor Hoyle, may one day be known as “Bush’s Folly.”
Blending journalism and history, Hoyle’s narrative enfolds “a war that has morphed from a strongly supported U.S.-led retaliatory attack on al Qaeda terrorists into a bloody and brutal Iraqi civil war that has killed tens of thousands, perhaps more.” The origins of that morass remain murky, even with Hoyle’s expert storytelling, but it is clear that the war began in Dick Cheney’s office, the vice president having carved out an ample role as the “White House’s point man on intelligence” and serving more as prime minister than lieutenant. Cheney’s secretive circle of neoconservative ideologues seemed to live for 9/11, which provided an outlet for his habit of thinking of worst-case scenarios as the norm. At deeper question is that circle’s habit of wishful thinking, as in the case of those elusive WMDs, about which, for a time, they had a true believer in New York Times correspondent Judith Miller—who, by Hoyle’s account, needed a refresher course in journalistic ethics. Cheney’s cabal was augmented by Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary whose military judgment, in retrospect, seems disastrously poor (for instance, had the proper number of boots been put on the ground, one CIA operative remarks, Kabul would have fallen a month earlier than it did); Karl Rove, that ascended master of dirty tricks; and other loyalists who social-engineered discussions of the “war on terror” such that any deviation from the party line was tantamount to treason. Though much of this overarching story has been well documented in other books, there is plenty of news in Hoyle’s pages—a notable instance being his account of the careful redaction of Colin Powell’s now infamous speech before the United Nations.
An essential history of a poor idea badly executed.