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The End Of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End

by Peter W. Galbraith
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publishing date: 11/07/2006
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0743294238

Synopsis

The End of Iraq, definitive, tough-minded, clear-eyed, describes America's failed strategy toward that country and what must be done now.

The United States invaded Iraq with grand ambitions to bring it democracy and thereby transform the Middle East. Instead, Iraq has disintegrated into three constituent components: a pro-western Kurdistan in the north, an Iran-dominated Shiite entity in the south, and a chaotic Sunni Arab region in the center. The country is plagued by insurgency and is in the opening phases of a potentially catastrophic civil war.

George W. Bush broke up Iraq when he ordered its invasion in 2003. The United States not only removed Saddam Hussein, it also smashed and later dissolved the institutions by which Iraq's Sunni Arab minority ruled the country: its army, its security services, and the Baath Party. With these institutions gone and irreplaceable, the basis of an Iraqi state has disappeared.

The End of Iraq describes the administration's strategic miscalculations behind the war as well as the blunders of the American occupation. There was the failure to understand the intensity of the ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq. This was followed by incoherent and inconsistent strategies for governing, the failure to spend money for reconstruction, the misguided effort to create a national army and police, and then the turning over of the country's management to Republican political loyalists rather than qualified professionals.

As a matter of morality, Galbraith writes, the Kurds of Iraq are no less entitled to independence than are Lithuanians, Croatians, or Palestinians. And if the country's majority Shiites want to run their own affairs, or even have their own state, on what democratic principle should they be denied? If the price of a unified Iraq is another dictatorship, Galbraith writes in The End of Iraq, it is too high a price to pay.

The United States must focus now, not on preserving or forging a unified Iraq, but on avoiding a spreading and increasingly dangerous and deadly civil war. It must accept the reality of Iraq's breakup and work with Iraq's Shiites, Kurds, and Sunni Arabs to strengthen the already semi-independent regions. If they are properly constituted, these regions can provide security, though not all will be democratic.

There is no easy exit from Iraq for America. We have to relinquish our present strategy -- trying to build national institutions when there is in fact no nation. That effort is doomed, Galbraith argues, and it will only leave the United States with an open-ended commitment in circumstances of uncontrollable turmoil.

Peter Galbraith has been in Iraq many times over the last twenty-one years during historic turning points for the country: the Iran-Iraq War, the Kurdish genocide, the 1991 uprising, the immediate aftermath of the 2003 war, and the writing of Iraq's constitutions. In The End of Iraq, he offers many firsthand observations of the men who are now Iraq's leaders. He draws on his nearly two decades of involvement in Iraq policy working for the U.S. government to appraise what has occurred and what will happen. The End of Iraq is the definitive account of this war and its ramifications.


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  • "War remains the decisive human failure."
    From Amazon

    The last words in the acknowledgement, written by Peter Galbraith's father, John Kenneth Galbraith, serves as an admirable summation of the central message of this book, and that traditional human failure has been exacerbated in this case by the egregious ignorance and arrogance of the current American administration. Galbraith's book proves to be an excellent confirmation of numerous points made by Thomas Ricks' in his outstanding book on Iraq, entitled "Fiasco."

    Ricks made the point that one of the chief concerns of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was to remove those individuals with actual knowledge of the Iraqi situation from the American governing process, and replace them with ideologically pure neocons. Galbraith fleshes out this contention with numerous sad examples: per Ambassador Tim Carney, the State Department's professional Arabist "weren't welcome because they didn't think Iraq could be democratic." (p 95); during a Pentagon planning meeting on Kirkuk, no one knew the ethic composition of the local police (p94); Margaret Tutwiler, a former State Department chief spokesperson had never heard of the Anfal (Hussain's ethnic cleansing of the Kurds), and told her Kurdish hosts this (p115); the hiring of six young people, with no experience to manage a $13 billion budget in Iraq solely because they had placed their resumes on the conservative think-tank, the Heritage Foundation's, website (p127-128); and how President Bush, in 2003, did not know there were two major sects in Islam, Sunnis and Shiites (p83). Even sadder, the above is just a sample of Galbraith's examples.

    Unlike the neocon neophytes, Galbraith has been actively involved in the region for over 25 years, and personally knows many of the key political players in Iraq. Clearly his sympathies are with the Kurds, with whom he has been most deeply involved, and he is an effective advocate for their independence.

    "Defer to the peoples of Iraq" (p206) is Galbraith's unsurprising, save to the Washington administration, solution to the Iraq situation. He makes the point on several occasions that trying to force the three disparate former provinces of the Ottoman Empire to function as one country, "Iraq", has been the destabilizing force in the region for 80 years. The people in the area have already established at least two highly autonomous regions, Kurdistan and "Shiastan" in the south, and dissolution of unworkable countries can be a peaceful and optimal solution, citing both Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union as examples. Although it is not a point that Galbraith made, for almost 23 years the United States would not recognize the reality of one billion people in "Red China." The solution to better relations was to recognize this basic fact "on the ground." Similarly, the solution for the United States policy in Iraq is to recognize the reality and the wishes of the people in the area, and forget the ideology, that even included a "flat tax" enacted into law by Viceroy Bremmer.

    The book is somewhat marred by redundancy, which could be defended as necessary in order to make the case with the current political leadership. It remains an essential read.

  • If interested in truly understanding situation, a very worthwhile read
    From Amazon

    An exceptional work that gives a very good overview of US foreign policy with Iraq over past 28 years. Many valuable insights that helps understanding sectarian conflicts. Heavily weighted to discussion on Kurdistan and its pursuit of independence.

  • Fundamentaly wrong
    From Amazon

    Yes, there are lots of problems with the war in Iraq. Yes, it has been mishandled, but the question for me is if this war is wrongly ran or is it fundamentally wrong?
    The book tends to argue that we had no business in Iraq, and the situation there is a mess because we should not be there in the first place.
    Let's have a historical perspective: We pacified and democratized Germany, and we kept troops there for 60 years. No one is arguing with that. We also pacified and democratized Japan, and we kept troops there for 60 years also no one is arguing with that. We saved S Korea from communism and made it the 9th largest world economy, in contrast with their Northern brothers that are starving to death... We saved Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from Sadam, no one is arguing with that either.
    Now is Iraq. Five years and 3000 casualties later we are all whining and begging our leaders to quit with our tail between our legs. What if FD Roosevelt quit after a couple of years of fighting Germany and Japan? What if Harry Truman and General McArthur, just said "This Korean winter is colder than we thought, lets just pack up and go"? Well, they didn't, and they had to send thousands and thousands of young Americans to the ultimate sacrifice.
    Today FDR is know as the savior of civilization and democracy and General McArthur has a 50 foot statue in the port of Incheon, Korea as the saviour of this nation. (well, half of this Nation)
    But Iraq? Let's just quit... great leader Ahmadinejad and his friends can take it over...
    Oh... where have all he cowboys gone?

    While looking for this book, I stumbled on "The World Without US" - a documentary similar in topic. After checking out the trailer in the reviews, I got the DVD and the film was amazing. It takes the premise of this book a step farther by asking, what would happen should the US withdraw its military completely from the world? I think that the film makers did the question justice by traveling around the world and interviewing amazing people with amazing points of view. Answering a hypothetical question is hard, for any author and filmmaker, however this movie did the job, weather you agree with the answer or not. Check it out also.
    The World Without US - With Niall Ferguson

  • The End of Iraq by Peter Galbraith
    From Amazon

    This is the ULTIMATE explanation of how we blundered in Iraq from a guy who really knows "where the bones are buried"!

    The book was in great shape and concisely written with a huge bibliography. The best book about the Iraq debacle I've read so far.

    What a great read though kinda scary to think that all the "smartest guys in the room" could have f---ed up this bad! When you finish you'll want to put the entire administration behind bars!!

  • Good Detail and Writing, Absurd Conclusion
    From Amazon

    As many other reviews have noted, the Author knows a great deal about Iraq and can write very well. Unfortunately, the conclusion he draws would be laughable if it weren't so depressing. Yes, the glue holding together Iraq is gone: no more strongman, no more educated and moderate middle-class, no more secular and religious tolerance en mass. Yes, the three main groups are now committed to protecting their own and keeping out the others. But having a central government representing all three? Working together? Sharing oil revenue? How can a man so intelligent and experienced fail to see the absurdity of dreaming that there can be a functional "central" government? Has he learned nothing about lethal agendas, intransigence, greed, suspicion, hatred and lack of respect that defines "politics" in Baghdad? There is no significant interest in true Nationalism, other than from perhaps some Sunni's who wax nostalgic for their glory days. Talk about a state of denial! The only way I can understand the Author's grip on reality is that he (and other's like Senator Biden, et. al., believes the Central Government idea is a useful red-herring for furthering the disengagement ambitions of Kurdistan. I just can't get over how anyone in their right mind believe in the pipe dream of them all sharing oil revenue. Is their something about Iraq that makes so many people say so much nonsense? Oh, yeah...Oil.

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