War of Necessity, War of Choice by Richard Haas

Is reading a signed copy of a book on the NY subway a good idea? Me thinks not. Luckily, nothing bad happened and the book now sits back on the bookcase in pristine condition.


The book is a great account of the first Iraq War and an okay account of the second one. For that reason, the first half of the book is basically a good text book on how the government works in light of an imminent war. How decisions were made, why they were made, and their consequences. Great details into the personalities involved as well. Basically, Haas argues that it was a war of necessity as the tolerance of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait would have cause havoc in US Middle East (oil) interests and, on a grander scale, in world order and how states ought to behave.

However, the second half of the book drops off significantly. Haas himself was not involved in the decision process, so his views are limited at best. In fact, the book becomes his 80 page op-ed piece. I think his opinions are genuine and fair, but they are nonetheless opinions. Haas argues that the second Iraq war was a war of choice, one that the US could have easily avoided but chose not to. (Tell me something I don't know)

Overall, I think the book was a satisfying account of decision making in a history text book way. Slightly recommended.

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