Robert Draper, Writer at Large for The New York Times Magazine

Published on21 JAN 2021

In this episode of Talks at GS, journalist Robert Draper discusses insights from his latest book To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq and his views on the way the war in Iraq continues to shape American politics and foreign policy.

On the legacy of the decision to go to war in Iraq: “Given that the consequences still linger – not just that that fateful decision I think resulted in Obama's presidency, which, in turn, resulted in Trump's presidency. But then it also has created a kind of credibility chasm, not even just a gap, where so many Americans believe that the government is not on the level. I think all of that is a legacy of Iraq and warranted a return to it or re-visitation of the facts… The question is if we agree that a decision such as this, that cost so many lives and so much calamity in the Middle East and in our politics today, what, if anything, have we learned from it? And that, to me, was a ghost that hangs over the whole narrative as well.”

On the continuing impact of the Iraq War on American foreign policy: “If assuming that we do engage in the world, when do we? Should another Rwanda arise during the Biden administration, how should he respond? Should an Arab Spring begin to light a fire, do you simply sit back and say, ‘No, we've been through messes in the Middle East before, we're not going to do it again?’ This warrants a robust discussion that hasn't taken place.”



This session was recorded on January 14, 2021.

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