Leaders in conflict

Bush and Rumsfeld in Iraq

Beneath the violence of the U.S. war in Iraq was a subterranean conflict between President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, rooted in their different beliefs and leadership styles. Bush was prepared to pay a high cost in American lives, treasure, and prestige to win. Rumsfeld favored turning the war over to the Iraqis, and was comfortable with the risk that Iraq would disintegrate into chaos. Only after Bush removed Rumsfeld in late 2006 did he bring U.S. strategy into line with his goals, sending additional troops to Iraq and committing to continued U.S. involvement. Bush abandoned Rumsfeld’s withdrawal approach, predicated upon the beliefs that “it's the Iraqis’ country,” and “we have to take our hand off the bicycle seat.”

In Leaders in Conflict, Stephen Benedict Dyson shows that Bush and Rumsfeld thought about international politics, and about leadership, in divergent ways. The president embraced binary thinking, was visceral in his commitment to the war, and had a strong belief that the U.S. both could and should shape events in Iraq. The secretary saw the world as complex, and was skeptical of the extent of U.S. influence over events and of the moral imperative to stay involved.

The book is based upon more than two dozen interviews with administration insiders, and appeals to those interested in the U.S. foreign policy, the U.S. presidency, leadership and wartime decision making.

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