Monday, July 10, 2006
COBRA II REVIEW: PART 4
Parting Comments Concerning Authority of Evidence, Bias, and Utility
There were a mere handful of questions that I had beforehand that were answered by this book. The battle accounts were apparently selected on the merits that they helped prop up their assertions, and provided little more than the authors wanted us to remember.
The authors sometimes sought to minimize the experience of those who were either part of the effort or had an impact on the decision-making process. By way of example, Gordon and Trainor employ “damning with faint praise” against the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, describing him as a “military history buff”(pg 33.). The authors employ similar means against LtGen Ricardo Sanchez in several places, most notably identifying him simply as a "junior three-star general whose last assignment was in Europe".
I found the extensive use of anonymous “present at the briefing/meeting”, "interview with a former x official" and “notes of a participant” references for many of the most contentious issues discomforting. While no doubt some should be kept anonymous for National Security reasons, too many unnamed sources seem to be anonymous just to protect somebody's career. There were many assertions made throughout the book that really should have had citations, but instead were presented as undisputed facts -- usually at the end of a string of common knowledge, expressions of common beliefs, or material with citations.
The index is one of, if not THE, poorest I can remember encountering, and made it very frustrating to relocate a lot of material after I had read ahead.
Cobra II is too painful a read for the too few to mention nuggets of information that I found useful (and not found elsewhere), to make this book worthwhile. It is tailored to promote the authors' views and not to give a balanced account of the war in Iraq. I found it so fundamentally flawed that I now wonder if I should reread The General’s War with a far more critical eye.