The serial mistruths, mistakes and misperceptions about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction and alleged support for Al Qaeda are laid out in devastating detail in Robert Draper’s authoritative new book ... This is well-trod history, but Draper mines newly declassified documents and tracks down previously unavailable CIA and Defense officials to flesh out the sordid story of the run-up to the March 2003 invasion, the start of a grinding conflict that would last eight years and claim nearly 4,500 American lives ... Draper has written a compelling narrative of just how calamitous an ideology-first approach to fact-finding can be in the White House, and why Americans were so badly deluded ... Draper has written the most comprehensive account yet of that smoldering wreck of foreign policy, one that haunts us today.
... the detailed, nuanced, gripping account of that strange and complex journey offered in Robert Draper’s To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq is essential reading—now, especially now ... it’s complex and multilayered ... That makes Draper’s account one for the ages, one to study not just to understand a war whose repercussions loom large given the Americans, Iraqis and others who’ve perished—and given the through-line from Bush’s decision to the continuing U.S. presence in Iraq and the persistent threat from terrorists there and in Syria in the wake of the U.S. invasion ... The lessons that emerge from Draper’s book for any American president are profound, making it a must-read for all who care about presidential power.
Draper carefully examines the Bush administration’s illusions about Iraq ... Draper has performed prodigious research, including conducting interviews with several hundred former national security officials and scrutinizing recently declassified government documents. He does not provide any bold revelations, but offers the most comprehensive account of the administration’s road to war, underscoring that Bush was indeed The Decider when it came to Iraq — there was never any debate about not overthrowing Hussein ... Some of Draper’s most revealing passages focus on the intense pressure that Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, as well as the Defense Department official Douglas J. Feith, exerted on the intelligence agencies to buttress and even concoct the case that Saddam had intimate ties with Al Qaeda and that he possessed weapons of mass destruction ... If Draper expertly dissects the ferocious turf battles that took place within the administration over the war, he does not really seek to set it in a wider context other than to note rather benignly that 'the story I aim to tell is very much a human narrative of patriotic men and women who, in the wake of a nightmare, pursued that most elusive of dreams: finding peace through war.' But there was more to it than that ... Draper provides a timely reminder of the dangers of embarking upon wars that can imperil America itself.