THERE'S A TRAGIC truth behind America’s endless war since 9/11: It’s based on lies. Two recent books confront the lies. Robert Draper and Danny Sjursen independently critique the arguably the worst foreign policy blunder in modern U.S. history.
To Start A War is Draper’s account of how the second Bush administration used 9/11 to justify invading Iraq, which was not involved in the attacks. An author’s note opens his treatise: “This is a story bracketed by two defining tragedies of the 21st century. The first was an unprovoked attack on America’s homeland. ... The second, 18 months later, was an act of war by America against a sovereign nation that had neither harmed the United States nor threatened to do so.” Draper masterfully unravels the Bush administration’s litany of lies following the labyrinthine road to war from the White House to Foggy Bottom, the Pentagon, and Congress, through national security and intelligence agencies, the diplomatic corps, and military ops. The reader becomes privy to real people and conversations. Every page stirs outrage.
The end of the road? Six weeks into war, President George W. Bush swaggered across the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, flashed thumbs up, and pronounced, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Overhead hung a red, white, and blue “Mission Accomplished” banner. Draper concludes, “The slogan accurately reflected the Bush administration’s wishful thinking and grandiose sense that history had already been made.”