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Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq

January 13th, 2013

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Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq is the definitive collection -- systematically categorized, indexed, and footnoted for your convenience -- of authoritative misinformation, disinformation, misunderstanding, miscalculation, egregious prognostication, boo-boos, and just plain lies, about the Iraq War. "Never before has such a large and diverse group of experts been so unanimously in favor of a particular national policy as they were in the case of the U.S. invasion of Iraq," note Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky, who, as co-founders of the Institute of Expertology, the nation's leading purveyor of expertise on expertise, were uniquely qualified to assemble this impressive collection. "In the face of such a consensus, we had no choice but to ask ourselves, 'Could the iron law of expertology -- the experts are never right -- be wrong?'" At once an entertainment, a cautionary tale, a critique of mass media, a reference tool, and a postwar manifesto, Mission Accomplished! presents, as no book has before, the collective wisdom of all those who are presumed to know what they talking about on the subject of America's adventure in Iraq. As this hilarious, yet depressing, volume demonstrates, they don't. From MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." -- President George W. Bush, May 1, 2003 "[Insurgents] pose no strategic threat to the United States or to the Coalition Forces." -- L. Paul Bremer III, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, November 17, 2003 "Military action will not last more than a week." -- Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, January 23, 2003 "I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah." -- President George W. Bush, at a White House menorah lighting ceremony, December 10, 2001


Book Review

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History Books Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq is the definitive collection -- systematically categorized, indexed, and footnoted for your convenience -- of authoritative misinformation, disinformation, misunderstanding, miscalculation, egregious prognostication, boo-boos, and just plain lies, about the Iraq War. "Never before has such a large and diverse group of experts been so unanimously in favor of a particular national policy as they were in the case of the U.S. invasion of Iraq," note Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky, who, as co-founders of the Institute of Expertology, the nation's leading purveyor of expertise on expertise, were uniquely qualified to assemble this impressive collection. "In the face of such a consensus, we had no choice but to ask ourselves, 'Could the iron law of expertology -- the experts are never right -- be wrong?'" At once an entertainment, a cautionary tale, a critique of mass media, a reference tool, and a postwar manifesto, Mission Accomplished! presents, as no book has before, the collective wisdom of all those who are presumed to know what they talking about on the subject of America's adventure in Iraq. As this hilarious, yet depressing, volume demonstrates, they don't. From MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." -- President George W. Bush, May 1, 2003 "[Insurgents] pose no strategic threat to the United States or to the Coalition Forces." -- L. Paul Bremer III, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, November 17, 2003 "Military action will not last more than a week." -- Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, January 23, 2003 "I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah." -- President George W. Bush, at a White House menorah lighting ceremony, December 10, 2001
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  1. Dee Wolf
    January 15th, 2013 at 07:27 | #1

    Rating

    Mission Accomplished : How We Won the War in Iraq???

    The so-called EXPERTS sure fooled themselves and some of the gullible.

    Thanks to the authors for giving the real history and written facts of the IRAQ debacle and who predicted what. I’m still wondering how the prognosticators of victory still hold their jobs. A must Read for young and old alike.

  2. William Sunstrum
    January 16th, 2013 at 03:24 | #2

    Rating

    Think he got it about right. Maybe we’ll get some straight talk when Obama takes over!!

  3. J. L LaRegina
    January 17th, 2013 at 05:17 | #3

    Rating

    Keep MISSION ACCOMPLISHED handy as you read news publications or take in radio and television commentary. When some prognosticator talks up reasons for war – whether it regards Iraq or what may be in Iran – look up that person in this book, as chances are they’ve been wrong before.

    While MISSION ACCOMPLISHED is an easy read, if nothing else pay attention to the quotes in reverse type at the bottom of each page. Names of purportedly qualified commentators such as Thomas Friedman show up again and again predicting a conclusion to the Iraq disaster. These know-nothings don’t quit after missing the mark once or twice. From 2002 through 2007, dingbats such as Friedman, William Kristol and Michael Ledeen provide consistently wrong forecasts, as if they were weathermen on acid. But they’re not predicting sunshine only to get caught in the rain. These smug blowhards are responsible for promoting this illegal, immoral war and occupation that’s cost millions life and limb.

    Why do the NEW YORK TIMES, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO and other news organizations continue to provide a forum to these clowns? I’ve heard of short memories, but the people at the TIMES and N.P.R. are more forgetful than a Republican under oath.

    Next time your news sources present pundits blathering about things getting better in Iraq or how quick and easy attacking Iran will be, reach for MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Then call or write to ask why they present as “experts” individuals who couldn’t qualify for Psychic Friends Network.

    Buy MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

  4. E. Ashton-Gonzalez
    January 18th, 2013 at 07:18 | #4

    Rating

    This book is a clever and comprehensive satire of the egregious prognostications made by the U.S. government, military, and media before, during, and after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It should be mentioned right off the bat that, unlike the hordes of “Bushisms” books and other anti-Bush administration literature, this is not just an irreverent or pithy crack at the neo-conservatives and predominantly right-wing pundits and politicians who supported our invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Many liberal voices, including many writers for the New York Times and other publications, appear here as well. Every person quoted in this book is measured up to the facts on the ground both at home and in Iraq.

    Not only is this book often startling and darkly humorous in its revelations, it is also an insightful portrait of the way the Bush administration’s policies were fed to and digested by the media. If you like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, or are a voracious reader of the political blogosphere, this book is an amazing encyclopedia of the lies that were spun (and spun) every six months to keep us at war for the past five years.

  5. R. brook
    January 18th, 2013 at 11:34 | #5

    Rating

    Fun and funny (considering the topic). Good information. The point made is that everybody, on both sides, lined up to regurgitate the party line on the war in Iraq. Bush administration lies became gospel through pundits, press, politicians and prognosticators. “Won’t get fooled again”? – I guess we did. Worth owning if only as a reference point on Amerikan propaganda. Looks like we didn’t destroy the iron curtain of misinformation, we just moved inside it.

  6. Jon Hunt
    January 19th, 2013 at 21:15 | #6

    Rating

    “Mission Accomplished!”, a terrific retrospective about how the Iraq venture failed, is an accurate and compelling look at the ongoing quagmire with humor on the side. Certifying those who framed the debate and carried out the execution of the war is assembled by authors Cerf and Navasky with an acuity that allows the reader to partake in the words of those who got us into this mess. Justice Brandeis said that “sunshine is the best disinfectant” and the words presented here are devastating in that exposition.

    Nicely framed with quotes from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others, we are reminded about how this war never had a clear purpose, let alone a clear strategy. This book is an equal opportunity employer…Democrats get the royal treatment, too, as they should. Cerf and Navasky present quotes then give “in fact” responses…all well-cited. Then, in the lower right-hand corner of each opposing page they offer remarks about predictions on how those experts thought the war and reconstruction would go. Everyone will have a favorite…mine is Thomas L. Friedman. An expert of limitless self-confidence, he’s reduced to words after one should eat one’s hat.

    I think the authors hit things just right when they talk about the cost of the war, both in human and economic terms. Sure, this is a book with a light-hearted nature, but when the text is revealed, we understand about the folly of this war and the Bush administration who gave it to us…an administration that has never figured out what to do with all the shattered pieces. “Mission Accomplished!” is a good and timely read, especially in an election year. I highly recommend it.

  7. Dagny
    January 20th, 2013 at 05:47 | #7

    Rating

    The book is a page turner of quotes by people who knew or should have known what a mess was being created in Iraq. To this day, our politicians say they want to pull out of Iraq when possible so as to stop the suffering of Americans and their families — never a mention of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who were killed and maimed and the 3 million Iraqi refugees who fled the violence to other countries. The extreme arrogance of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the duping of Condi Rice and Gen. Powell is breathtaking. Even an author who I favored reading, Thomas Friedman, carried the administration’s water with the continuous (every 6 months) “just 6 more months”. If any administration deserved to be impeached, it was this one. But no peep out of the legislature? Because so many of them deserve to be impeached as well. I hate to quote Bill OReilly, but what Kool Aid do these people drink that they think they know so much they can spend trillions in taxes and new debt and interfere or destroy so many lives? This book is an invaluable reference book for the lies told by Bush and his delusional minions.

  8. Tina Keane
    January 20th, 2013 at 19:01 | #8

    Rating

    The Institute of Expertology has done it again! This timely book is clever, informative and highly entertaining, in spite of the subject matter. Cerf & Navasky have managed to capture every single absurd word uttered by this highly quotable group of “experts” running our nation and influencing our people. With the election right around the corner, buy a copy for yourself and get one for a friend. Let the words of the so called “experts” remind you that it’s time for a change!

    If I wasn’t laughing so hard, I would be crying.

  9. Ed Uyeshima
    January 21st, 2013 at 00:34 | #9

    Rating

    As our burgeoning economic woes overshadow the war in Iraq in the minds of prospective voters, the imperial hubris that has been the mainstay of the Bush administration’s rhetoric seems to get less airplay these days. Even though people continue to die, the cable networks apparently feel that their viewers have grown tired of the war. That’s why there is great value in picking up this piercing collection of direct quotes from the so-called experts on the Iraqi conflict by Christopher Cerf and Columbia professor Victor Navasky, satirists who pose as co-founders of the Institute of Expertology, the nation’s leading purveyor of expertise on expertise. The breadth of the public statements presented here is astonishing in their deceit, ignorance and utterly blind ambition.

    All the classic assertions are included here starting with George W. Bush’s claim of success that provides the book’s title. Donald Rumsfeld chimed in with recycled catchphrases like “Stuff happens” and “Freedom is untidy”. Convinced that the Iraqis would greet U.S. soldiers as liberators, Dick Cheney confidently proclaimed that “The streets of Baghdad are sure to erupt with joy”. Even though he expresses regret now, policy analyst Kenneth Adelman originally stated that he felt the war would be a “walk in the park”, while political pundit Bill O’Reilly echoed similar feelings of invalid self-assurance (“Military action will not last more than a week”). More evasive statements have an insidious sense of gloom, such as Condoleezza Rice’s declaration that “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”, or former White House speechwriter David Frum’s covert remark that “This ‘rush to war’ should really be seen as the ultimate ‘rush to peace’”.

    Reading all these together provide a strong reminder of the power of the propaganda machine at work with the current administration. The co-authors make note of the gradual shift occurring in placing more of the blame now on Iran for helping the al-Qaeda. There is a pervasive sense of black comedy over the entire tome, not surprisingly given the co-authors’ previous collaboration, 1984′s The Experts Speak : The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation. Intriguingly, Cerf, the son of Random House publishing co-founder and “What’s My Line?” panelist Bennett Cerf, wrote many of the early sing-along tunes on Sesame Street and produced Marlo Thomas’ classic 1974 children’s program, Free to Be You and Me.

  10. John-David Hughes
    January 21st, 2013 at 07:32 | #10

    Rating

    I throughly enjoyed the book. It is amazing just how many half-truths and un-truths were exposed as well as the cupidity of all those responsible for allowing these things to occur. The book does not adopt any but a dispassionate review of what was actually said and in what context. It is an entertaining read, and in the vein of Swift, Twain, Vonnegut, it merely says what was said, interspesring the utterances with counterpointed facts and reality. Seems that “three to six months” was and is the litany repeated over and over. As political satire it accomplishes its aim. It is a remarkable accounting of the Administration’s not-unsuccessful efforts to subvert and to redesign our democratic republic. In so doing, the service it provides is inestimable. The book delivers some satiric jabs, but on the whole the feeling of disbelief I experienced made me read and re-read page after page. As a History teacher I assign it as required reading now.

  11. Michael Winfield
    January 21st, 2013 at 12:29 | #11

    Rating

    If you think all conservatives are idiots, and want ammo to toss at war supporters, this is the book for you. This is a book you can judge just by the cover. It definitely belongs in the humor section, which also explains the inclusion of Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter as “Experts on the War in Iraq”.

    If you are in the mood for laughs, enjoy this book and read no further.

    If you want a deeper review, I can tell you my friend lent me this book to give me “information” I apparently needed to know to be an informed voter. I think I learned something far more valuable along the way:

    Q: What’s the difference between a defender and a detractor?

    A: Apparently, defenders make mistakes.

    American involvement in Iraq has resulted in a number of huge mistakes:

    * There turned out to be no weapons of mass destruction.

    * The insurgents were a bigger problem than first thought.

    * The enemies imprisoned at Abu Graib were not treated with respect.

    * Some money (in cash) entrusted to the CPA simply disappeared.

    * Ousting all Ba’thists from the government introduced some chaos.

    * It has taken too long to restore Iraq after the quick invasion and toppling of Saddam.

    I’ve read other reviews for this book, and many talk about the spin our leaders put on these “lies”. I don’t think any estimate or prognostication can really be called a lie, since you can only lie when you actually know with certainty the correct answer to begin with. So in the case where you know for a fact no weapons of mass destruction exist in Iraq and you suggest to the country otherwise then I would say you lied. In this specific case, if true, Bush lied. In other cases where things did not turn out as expected, all you can say is a guess was proven wrong.

    Speaking of spin, this book consists of “volumes” of mistakes, where each mistake is a collection of quotes followed by a statement of actual fact.

    I’m all sure the statements of fact check out. Still, the quotes are quite obviously taken out of context, chosen and ordered to paint a picture in which these people could do nothing right.

    For example, in the very first section of the book, “experts” suggest victory in Iraq will result in Iraqis viewing coalition forces as “Liberators”. In fact, the book tells us, a poll of Iraqis taken 13 months later shows only 2% of the native population view the forces occupying their country as “Liberators”.

    So, clearly, everybody quoted was as an idiot, right?

    In this example, many of the quotes reference Baghdad specifically or use the word “greet”. I don’t know how you can “greet” forces that have been present over the last 13 months. The book is silent about how Coalition Forces were actually greeted immediately following the fall of Baghdad.

    See how two truths — real quotes and real events — make a wrong here in the authors’ twisted suggestion? Get used to it.

    I have read all of the quotes in the book. Some gems are repeated a second time just in case you missed them. The book uses a number of different devices: guilt by association; straw man arguments; out-of-order chronology; same general quote but made to different targets at different times; etc. However, the same basic pattern is repeated throughout: make fools of certain parties with the suggestive comparisons between what he/she said beforehand followed by the actual event or events that took place (the authors real work was in finding these quote-event pairs). If only each of the “experts” had perfect knowledge about future events, then this book wouldn’t exist.

    Now I for one am certainly not happy Iraq was invaded on “intelligence” that proved false. I’m also not happy mistakes were and are being made during our involvement, but I am also not consoled by a bunch of ninnies effectively saying “I told you so” after the fact.

    For example, the book quotes Bush from the 2003 State of the Union address:

    “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

    The book then follows with an “In fact:” section which cites the Op-Ed piece in the New York Times by Joseph Wilson pointing out there was, in fact, no yellowcake sale.

    We know Wilson was sent to assess this exact situation in Feb. 2002 and he gave his answer (which was apparently ignored by his superiors). So that’s certainly bad.

    But hang on a second. Wilson knew there was no yellowcake sale, and he knew Bush suggested in January 2003 that there was. So why did Wilson wait until June 2003 to speak up? By this time it was already pretty clear no weapons of mass destruction had been found.

    Why didn’t Wilson write in January or February of 2003 when his words might had a shot at avoiding the invasion of Iraq?

    Did it take 6 months for him to come up with just the right editorial phrasing?

    Are we to believe nobody would print his editorial before June 2003?

    I guess he just sat back and watched events unfold until he could be certain he was not mistaken. If only defenders had this luxury.

  12. Bunny Bear
    January 23rd, 2013 at 14:42 | #12

    Rating

    This was a book worth reading, especially at the end of his term, to sum up and put together all of what the so called republican experts claimed to be the truth concerning bush’s Iraq war, all the wild assertions. You would hear one quote there, another one here, and one more there, so it was easy to forget some and not see them together as a complete system of lies. I’m sure that you will find some quotes that you had missed, as I myself discovered some that were new to me. Many of the cartoons are funny, ie Rumsfeld’s toys and Chertof’s gut feeling :)

  13. Bruce Gregory
    January 25th, 2013 at 11:54 | #13

    Rating

    Even if you have no interest in the War in Iraq, you owe it to yourself to read this book. Here the inmates, in their own words, reveal the the extent and depth of their delusions. Never right, yet never uncertain, they happily lead the country into a disastrous war with nothing but their vivid imaginations to back them up. The justifications change, but not the need, first to go, and then to remain. No news discourages them. No facts upset them. They are right and they know it. In a sense the press bears ultimate responsibility for allowing this madness to go on unchallenged year after year. As the authors make clear, the next six months will be critical in determining the outcome of this adventure (after all, the experts have been saying that for years…). I wonder what else the inmates have been up to?

  14. R. Rowland
    January 27th, 2013 at 10:01 | #14

    Rating

    The Iraq war is serious and real. However, what “experts”, political, industry and others have said, and continue to comment on is hiseterical — and from another world. I have not stopped laughing yet!! While they “thought” that they could predict and correctly interpert what was happening, reality constantly proves otherwise. There are quotes from the book that will last forever — “The next six months is critical” for example.

    One wonders if truth will ever come to light. At least laughing helps not becoming depressed.

  15. Yoda
    January 28th, 2013 at 12:55 | #15

    Rating

    This book does an excellent job at formally documenting the many, many ludicrous views and comments held by leading political statesmen and pundits that were made just before Gulf War II started through the end of 2007 (the book was published in the beginning of 2008). Remember all those fools who believed that the war would be self-financing, end in a week, bring peace and happiness to Iraq and the region or bring greater stability to the region? Well, their quotes can be found here with full references. Just the book needed to counter those apologists who claim these comments were never made or still have faith in the “logic” behind the war. On the negative side none of what is contained in the book is really news to anyone who has been reading anything resembling a real newspaper over the past 7 years. As of October 2010 it adds nothing new to the public’s knowledge base. But, as stated above, the real value of the book is its documentation of the wars proponent’s views.

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