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Reporter Jonathan Steele Examines Missteps in Iraq

Book Tour is a Web feature and podcast. Each week, we present leading authors of fiction and nonfiction as they read from and discuss their work.

Five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the conflict continues, and many Americans are distressed by the war's rising human and financial costs. Roughly 155,000 American troops remain on the ground in Iraq, and military analysts say a large U.S. presence is likely for many more years.

In the new book Defeat: Why America and Britain Lost Iraq, Jonathan Steele dissects the war and explains how it could have been fought — and planned — more successfully.

Steele, a senior foreign correspondent for The Guardian, contends that the Bush and Blair administrations, by failing to balance military strategy with cultural sensitivities, were fighting an unwinnable battle from Day One. He puts the blame on a long history of Western imperialism in the Middle East, in addition to an ideology that he says was informed by abstract neoconservative theory rather than geopolitical realities.

Between 2003 and 2006, Steele completed eight reporting trips to Iraq. He draws from the experiences and voices of Iraqi sources to offer a fresh critique.

This reading of Defeat took place in April 2008 at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C.

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