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The Last Card in the Deck: Inside George W. Bush’s Decision to Surge in Iraq

October 22, 2019 @ 11:30 am - 9:00 pm

This is the real story of how George W. Bush came to double-down on Iraq in the highest stakes gamble of his entire presidency. Drawing on extensive interviews with nearly thirty senior officials, including President Bush himself. The Last Card offers an unprecedented look into the process by which President Bush overruled much of the military leadership and many of his trusted advisors, and authorized the deployment of roughly 30,000 additional troops to the warzone in a bid to save Iraq from collapse in 2007.

Even a president at war is bound by rules of consensus and limited by the risk of constitutional crisis. What is to be achieved in the warzone must also be possible in Washington, D.C. Bush risked losing public esteem and courted political ruin by refusing to disengage from the costly war in Iraq. The Last Card is a portrait of leadership—firm and daring if flawed—in the Bush White House.

This event will include a daytime symposium and evening keynote, featuring members of the Bush administration who were interviewed for this project, and scholars from around the country who led the interviews and wrote assessments of the Surge decision for the book.

These recordings are the property of the SMU Center for Presidential History and may only be used for research and teaching purposes. They cannot be copied or reproduced for profit. © 2019

Luncheon Plenary
11:30 AM- 1:00 PM

Meghan O’Sullivan

Peter Feaver

Dr. Timothy Sayle (Interviewer)

Panel 1: Participants Reflect
1:30 PM -3:30 PM

Eric Edelman

William Inboden

General Douglas Lute

Brett McGurk

Panel 2: Scholars Reflect
3:45 PM-5:45 PM

Richard Immerman

Melvyn Leffler

Andrew Preston

Kori Schake

Hal Brands (Chair)

Evening Keynote, featuring Stephen Hadley
7:30 PM -9:00 PM

Stephen Hadley Q&A with Jeffrey Engel

This event is hosted and co-sponsored by the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies and cos-sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.


October 22, 2019
11:30 am - 9:00 pm


Mack Ballroom (Umphrey Lee Center, SMU)
3300 Dyer St
Dallas, TX 75205
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