Why Are You So Awesome?
Andrew Exum (aka “abu muqawama”) offers a rather blistering review of Linda Robinson’s Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq.
This, too, is hagiography. (“It reads as if ghost-written by Petraeus,” one friend complained.) That wasn’t my complaint, though. Maybe Petraeus, like Mandela, is a man worth all the superlatives. But every U.S. officer in Robinson’s narrative is shown in only the most positive light. Officers are invariably “tough” and “resourceful” and “bright” and “hard-working” and “intelligent.” (“Surely there are a few s***bags left in the Army,” I found myself asking halfway through.) So like one narrative of the Iraq War — in which U.S. efforts went from “awesome” (in 2003) to “awesomer” (in 2005) to “awesomest” (in 2007) — officers are only varying shades of ass-kicking in Robinson’s account.
There’s a bit of that in Robert Kaplan’s books, too, although I find his analysis nonetheless interesting.