Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Iraq five years on discussed in print

There’s a bevy of new books about Iraq out, and Salon
has a roundup of the best.

Jonathan Steele has the harshest take, in “Defeat: Why America and Britain Lost Iraq.” He says it wasn’t a mishandled occupation, but rather the simple fact of occupation for any length of over a year or so, that doomed the operation. To professional warnings about all this, and Britain’s own colonial history in the country, all that British PM Tony Blair could do was utter his own brand of neoconservatism and say, of Hussein, “But the man’s uniquely evil, isn't he?”

As the Salon review notes, Steele is an award-winning foreign correspondent for the Guardian and has done eight stints in Iraq.

He also bluntly faults American Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism. Neither of those are new to people who have previously read about the brutality of the American occupation, but it’s good to see it spelled out in book-length form.

Of course, no mainstrean American journalist— yes, that’s people like you, Thomas Ricks — has or will have the cojones to report that in depth.

Aram Rostam then gives us a full biography of Ahmed Chalabi, with “The Man Who Pushed America to War: The Extraordinary Life, Adventures and Obsessions of Ahmad Chalabi.”

Other books on the review look at the culture clash between Americans and Iraqis as it plays out, outside the Green Zone, and Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky give a little quote-based smackdown to all the “experts” who predicted victory oh so long ago.

The review has links to Amazon pages for each of the books.