Whatever your position on the justifiability of the Iraq War, there is no denying that the United States bungled the running of the country following its ousting of Saddam Hussein. In the devastating “To Be a Friend Is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind,” Kirk W. Johnson focuses on another foul-up: the abandonment of Iraqis who worked — often as interpreters — with the US Army and its affiliates.
As violence rose in Iraq during US occupation, insurgents began targeting Iraqis who aided Americans for assassination. These Iraqis then turned to America for help in escaping their riven homeland. What they got from the Byzantine and disobliging State Department was “a mindless and insatiable demand for more information” in the form of documents of every conceivable kind, even as they spent days and nights dodging potential killers.