Michael R. Gordon

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Gordon in Kuwait in April 2003

Michael R. Gordon has been a national security correspondent for The Wall Street Journal since October 2017. Previously, he was a military and diplomacy correspondent for The New York Times for 32 years.[1] During the first phase of the Iraq War, he was the only newspaper reporter embedded with the allied land command under General Tommy Franks, a position that "granted him unique access to cover the invasion strategy and its enactment".[2] He and General Bernard E. Trainor have written three books together, including the best-selling Cobra II. As a journalist for The New York Times, he was the first to report Saddam Hussein's alleged nuclear weapons program in September 2002 with the article "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts."[3]

As an author[edit]

Together with Bernard E. Trainor, Gordon has written three books: The Generals' War, which covers the 1991 Gulf War; Cobra II, which covers the Iraq War begun 2003;[4] and The Endgame, which details the U.S. struggle for Iraq from the aftermath of the invasion and the decision to "Surge" under the Bush administration, to the withdrawal of American troops under President Obama.

The General's War won high praise from several critics and decisionmakers, with then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney describing it as "a fascinating account of the war" that he would "recommend" "as something that gives them a different element of some of the key decisions that were made." Jim Lehrer described it as "A superb account and analysis of what went right and what went wrong in the Gulf War"; and Eliot Cohen, writing in Foreign Affairs, called it "the best single volume on the Gulf War."[5]

Cobra II, which "focuses on the rushed and haphazard preparations for war and the appalling relations between the major players," won praise from Lawrence Freedman in Foreign Affairs, who wrote that "the research is meticulous and properly sourced, the narrative authoritative, the human aspects of conflict never forgotten."[6] Gordon's paper, The New York Times, called it "a work of prodigious research", adding that it "will likely become the benchmark by which other histories of the Iraq invasion are measured." The New Republic, while calling the book "splendid", wrote that "Gordon and Trainor remain imprisoned in an almost exclusively military analysis of what went wrong ... (which) ... unintentionally underplays the essential problem in Iraq--the problem of politics."[7]


  • The Generals' War: The Inside Story Of The Conflict In The Gulf (with Bernard E. Trainor, 1996)
  • Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq (with Bernard E. Trainor, 2006)
  • The End Game: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama (with Bernard E. Trainor, 2013)
  • Degrade and Destroy: The Inside Story of the War Against the Islamic State (2016)

Rabta articles[edit]

From West Germany on New Years Day in 1989, Gordon, together with Steven Engelberg broke the news that Imhausen-Chemie, a West German chemical company, had been serving as the "prime contractor" for an alleged Libyan chemical weapons production plant at Rabta since April 1980. The article was based a leak to Gordon "by U.S. administration officials of data that the United States previously had asked West Germany to keep secret".[8] The German government initially denied the allegations, but following further reports on the Rabta plants and pressure from the US administration, a total of three Imhausen employees, including the director, were convicted of illegally supplying CW materials to Libya in October 1991 and a fourth German national was convicted in 1996 for "facilitating Libya's acquisition of computer technology and other equipment to enhance chemical weapons development".[9]

Gordon and Engelberg won a George Polk Award for international reporting following their series of articles.[10]

Prewar coverage of Iraqi weapons program[edit]

In 2002, reporting by Gordon and Judith Miller played a key role in raising public support for the Iraq War.[11] Their article, "Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts", asserted, "Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb."[12] Anonymous "American officials" and "intelligence experts" are the only sources.[12] Following Miller's later refusal to reveal her source in the "outing" of C.I.A. officer Valerie Plame, the Times reporter spent 85 days in jail and was later released from the newspaper. The decision to release Miller also involved the controversy over the bias of her joint reporting with Gordon regarding Iraq's nuclear intentions and the Bush administration.[13] Despite his involvement in the controversy, Gordon remained the chief military correspondent for The New York Times.[14]


  1. ^ https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-gordon-8b034a150
  2. ^ "Engdame: Interviews", WGBH Public Broadcasting, Boston, 11 January 2007.
  3. ^ Gordon, Michael R.; Miller, Judith (8 September 2002). "Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Roger Spiller[permanent dead link] "Military History: Wishful War," American Heritage, Nov./Dec. 2006.
  5. ^ "Cobra II", at the Pantheon Books website.
  6. ^ Cobra II, reviewed by Lawrence Freedman, Foreign Affairs Archived 2012-07-08 at archive.today, Sep/Oct 2006.
  7. ^ "Optimism Goes to War", by David Rieff, The New Republic, April 12, 2006.
  8. ^ "W. Germany Assails U.S. on Libyan Plant", by Robert McCartney, Washington Post, 7 January 1989
  9. ^ Nuclear Threat Initiative Country Report
  10. ^ Polk Award homepage
  11. ^ History Commons, Profile: Michael Gordon.
  12. ^ a b Gordon and Miller, "Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts", The New York Times Sep. 8, 2002.
  13. ^ Bill Keller, "Times Editor's Memo to Staff on Judith Miller", Nov. 9, 2005.
  14. ^ Michael R. Gordon, Chief Military Correspondent, The New York Times

External links[edit]