The Pentagon and the Iraq War

The late Peter W. Rodman published a 2009 book titled Presidential Command: Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. Mostly he is concerned with the National Security Council (NSC) and the intra-bureaucratic turf battles that make bringing foreign policy into the White House necessary according to Rodman.

Although he died in August 2008, Rodman spoke of Mao a few times, including in his concluding chapter. He tried to frame what was happening in terms of a couple Mao quotes.

Additionally, Rodman himself served in the Pentagon as a signatory to the idea of invading Iraq with ground troops that neo-conservatives gave to Bill Clinton in letter form. Rodman served under Bush Jr. and Republican presidents prior. He was a protege of Henry Kissinger, himself an important figure in creating NSC history and then as Secretary of State.

Of note is that we again get a hint that the Pentagon expected the war in Iraq to be over soon — in and out. That would explain the few-boots-on-the-ground and low-impact idea. The Pentagon was actually arguing to get out, (2009, p. 262) but the bombing in Samarra cut this option short according to Rodman. This idea we find confirmation of in a Washington Post book on the Iraq war and scattered comments from Rice and Cheney. We at MIM have some concern that the newspapers mostly do not leave an accurate impression on this score.

Rodman seems to be saying that left to itself the huge Washington bureaucracy will go nowhere and make no sense, so a strong president is necessary to engage on foreign policy issues through the NSC at all times. Perhaps he was hoping for a Mao, and he knew the pseudo-Maoist Obama was coming, despite dying before the election.

Peter W. Rodman. (2009) Presidential Command: Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. NY: Alfred Knopf, 2009.

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