Philip Zelikow: Cited by Bob Woodward's new book

Historians in the News

Bob Woodward's new book on the Bush Administration, State of Denial, cites several memos written by top aides that provided an account of events in Iraq that were starkly different from what the president was saying publicly, according to reports published in the NYT:

Some of those memorandums were written by Philip D. Zelikow, a counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, including one in early 2005 in which Mr. Zelikow characterized Iraq as “a failed state” two years after the invasion, and another in September 2005, in which he said there was a 70 percent chance of success in achieving a stable, democratic state. That meant, Mr. Zelikow said, that there was a 30 percent chance of failure, including what he called a “significant risk” of “catastrophic failure,” meaning a collapse of the state Mr. Bush has tried to create.

The Washington Post also cited Zelikow in its account of the Woodward book:

[Condoleezza] Rice ... hired Philip D. Zelikow, an old friend, and sent him immediately to Iraq [when she became secretary of state]. She needed ground truth, a full, detailed report from someone she trusted. Zelikow had a license to go anywhere and ask any question.

On Feb. 10, 2005, two weeks after Rice became secretary of state, Zelikow presented her with a 15-page, single-spaced secret memo."At this point Iraq remains a failed state shadowed by constant violence and undergoing revolutionary political change," Zelikow wrote.

The insurgency was"being contained militarily," but it was"quite active," leaving Iraqi civilians feeling"very insecure," Zelikow said.

U.S. officials seemed locked down in the fortified Green Zone."Mobility of coalition officials is extremely limited, and productive government activity is constrained."

Zelikow criticized the Baghdad-centered effort, noting that"the war can certainly be lost in Baghdad, but the war can only be won in the cities and provinces outside Baghdad."

In sum, he said, the United States' effort suffered because it lacked an articulated, comprehensive, unified policy.

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