Cobra II By Michael R Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor (New York: Pantheon Books, 2006. 603 pages.)

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Amr G. E. Sabet



This book deals with the April 2003 American invasion and occupation of
Iraq. Its title comes from the code name of the military operation designed
to drive toward Baghdad. The code name, in turn, was inspired by General
George Patton’s 1944 military operation Cobra, during which the Allied forces broke out from Normandy to liberate France – hence Cobra II.
Written in a journalistic and investigative style, it chronicles the developments
and events leading to the Bush administration’s decision to attack
Iraq. Described as a war of “choice” rather than of “necessity” (p. xxxi), it
swiftly defeated the Iraqi army and toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime.
However, it was a failure insofar as it generated a virulent insurgency
that the occupyingAmerican army could not suppress. This insurgency was
an unexpected by-product of the program of “transformation” espoused by
former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. As part of President George
W. Bush’s vision of overhauling theAmerican military, this programbecame
a sort of “official ideology” (p. 8) and response to two main concerns: (1)
the long time (six months) it took to plan and amassAmerican forces during
the lead-up to the 1992 GulfWar that had reversed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait
(this length of time was considered to fall short of credible “superpower”
projection), and (2) the American military’s ability to fight two major wars
simultaneously, which came to be known as the “two-war doctrine” (pp. 5
and 9). The problem with the second consideration was that it required large
ground forces to implement the doctrine, at a time when the foreseen transformation
sought to trim American forces in favor of high-tech space and
precision weapons ...

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