Hope Is Not a Plan takes the reader inside the war in Iraq courtesy of participant-observers brought there to diagnose the insurgency and develop a get-well plan. Focusing on the critical months of late 2004 and early 2005, it looks at a slice of the war not previously examined. This is not the Beltway story, nor the grunt and jarhead story. Rather, the book looks at the process of taking political and military goals and turning them into action. In telling that story, Hope Is Not a Plan helps explain how Iraq got to where it is today. The book compares the reality of what happen in the Green Zone during this period with what history, experience, and doctrine suggest should have happened. Finally, it reflects on what can be learned from the experience.
From the outset, the war in Iraq was directed from Washington and executed by troops on the ground. Between Washington and the battlefields was the Green Zone, a four-square-mile enclave that hosted the American Embassy annex, the Iraqi Reconstruction Management Office, the planning, policy, strategy, and communications sections of Headquarters, Multi-national Force-Iraq, and the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq.