Conservatives should be focused [on one]...question an unpleasant one, but one absolutely essential to our indispensable, inevitable but still postponed reckoning with the legacy of the Bush administration. The question is: Why did Iraq go so very badly wrong and why, having gone wrong, did it take so ruinously wrong for the administration to shift to a more successful course?
Conservatives rightly take pride and comfort in the achievements of the surge. But the surge does not banish all the antecedent questions about Iraq. The surge may have rescued the American position in Iraq from total disaster, but nobody would describe the present situation in Iraq as anything like satisfactory.
Many, many writers have reported on this history. No definitive answer has ever been reached. Definitiveness has eluded writers in part because there is so much blame to go around. Yet there is something else too, a special factor: the mysterious personality of Donald Rumsfeld. More than any other figure in the administration, Rumsfeld is elusive, his decision-making opaque, his motives inaccessible.
Draper shows us some of the technique by which Rumsfeld used power without leaving traces.