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Disarming Iraq Hardcover – March 9, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (March 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375423028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375423024
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,899,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Disarming Iraq is an insider's account of the diplomatic and inspection efforts leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Though a bit dry, the book is logically presented and gives an excellent background on the inspections process and the politics surrounding it. Hans Blix, who came out of retirement in 2000 to lead the inspections effort, was often bashed by American politicians and journalists, but he does not use this forum to strike back. Instead, he allows the evidence to do the talking, only occasionally offering his own opinion. Blix stresses that he never trusted Hussein and that inspectors were often misled and stonewalled, but he also points out that they never found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction either. Though Blix welcomes the end of Hussein's brutal dictatorship, his removal was "neither the avowed aim nor the justification given" for the war—-WMDs were the issue. Therefore, he believes the invasion was unnecessary and possibly counterproductive in the long run and is disappointed that they were not given enough time to complete their task. "Containment had worked," he writes. "It has also become clear that national intelligence organizations and government hawks, but not the inspectors, had been wrong in their assessments."

Blix blames "monumental" intelligence failures on the part of the U.S. and Great Britain for most of these errors. In particular, he questions America's reliance on Iraqi defectors over their own intelligence agencies. He further wonders why the U.S. dismissed nearly all of the inspection agencies' findings over the past decade, in essence depriving themselves of a valuable source of information. He concludes that inspections are a worthwhile and effective method of containing potentially dangerous regimes and he believes that too high a price was paid for the war: "in the compromised legitimacy of the action, in the damaged credibility of the governments pursuing it, and in the diminished authority of the United Nations." --Shawn Carkonen

From Publishers Weekly

Blix reluctantly came out of retirement in 2000 to lead the U.N. weapons inspections team in Iraq because he was the only man everyone could agree on for the job. Three years later, those clamoring for military intervention grumbled at his inability (or, as they saw it, refusal) to present evidence of weapons of mass destruction, but he reminds readers that his assignment was to assess and report on the available evidence. Although his instincts told him Saddam was probably "still engaged in prohibited activities and retained prohibited items," as he dryly puts it, hard evidence never materialized. This play-by-play account of the months of diplomacy and inspection efforts leading up to the war is almost always strictly professional in tone, and though it does take us behind closed doors for meetings with world leaders, nothing here will radically transform the historical record or the ongoing debate. Blix doesn't have any scores to settle; while noting that Condoleezza Rice was never bashful about expressing her opinion, for example, he notes that she never tried to exert undue influence over him. He even laughs off some of the sharpest barbs from the conservative press (though not the New York Post's unflattering comparison to Mister Magoo). When he does, near the end, shift emphasis from facts to opinions, he suggests the American-led drive to war was led at least in part by "a deficit of critical thinking," and that the much-ballyhooed WMD threat probably doesn't existâ€"but he doesn't lament Hussein's overthrow. His sober account probably won't sway hardline critics, but it offers insightful perspective on how the Iraq situation snowballed into a geopolitical crisis.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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Unfortunately for me and most any other reader, Hanz is not Stockholm.
John G. Hilliard
The book can be read in one evening and it is mostly a good light read, and you will not be disappointed.
J. Robinson
I was surprised to find that Blix has great regard and admiration for Condoleezza Rice.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a remarkably even-handed discussion of the search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the ensuing Iraq War of 2003. With the patience of a professor outlining an argument on the board, Blix presents all sides of the issues dispassionately and, so far as I can tell, unpartisanly.
Blix originally believed that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction, and so he eagerly accepted his assignment to head the UN inspection team. He and his searchers targeted the areas that international intelligence agencies assured President Bush and Prime Minister Blair were repositories of weapons. Finding nothing in any of them, Blix began to suspect that both he and the intelligence agencies were mistaken. Failure to find weapons of mass destruction after the fall of Saddam Hussein further convinced Blix that any such weapons that survived the 1991 Iraq War had been destroyed by 1994. Saddam had even offered (finally) documentary evident to that effect in February 2003, but it was too late to prevent the war the following month.
Why, then, did Saddam refuse for the most part to cooperate with UN inspectors? Blix surmises that any number of reasons might've contributed to his stubbornness: pride, a sense of invulnerability, a fear that weapons inspectors were also spies, an unwillingness to accept foreign supervision. Regardless of the possible reasons, however, Blix is convinced that one of them was NOT that Saddam had anything to hide when it came to weapons of mass destruction.
Blix is also convinced that President Bush wouldn't have gone to war had he not been persuaded that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. The war was no vendetta, says Blix, and so wasn't inevitable.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By R. E Westgard on March 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
An excellect recounting of the inspection process by the man who was there with no apparent bias. Makes very clear the problem he had with all of the political factions pushing for a particular outcome.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By David J. Gannon on March 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Disarming Iraq by Hans Blix provides some interesting insights into the Iraqi WMD debate from the man in the vortex of that pre-war debate.
As one would suspect from a book written by a scientist cum international bureaucrat, the text is somewhat turgid and at times it takes a bit of slogging to get through the text.
That being said, the book is pretty interesting. The major thing that strikes one, especially given the post-war realization that WMD's weren't in Iraq, is Blix's pre-war conviction, based more on a gut feeling rather than any special insight, data or analysis, that WMD's probably did exist in some significant concentrations.
The other interesting conclusion of the book is Mr. Blix's assertion that the fault for the conflict rests, basically, with Saddam Hussein. Granted, Mr. Blix does have some very pointed, and not very complimentary remarks to make about the positions and actions of Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair. He definitely feels that the inspection process should have been accorded more time to do its work and is pretty critical of some of the timelines the Americans and British placed upon the process. On the other hand, he explicitly points to the fact that the Iraqi regime never, at any time, lived up to either the letter or the spirit of UN resolution 1441. He also agrees that, once the military buildup had reached a critical mass having it simple sit in lace indefinitely was not a viable option for anyone. The 1441 resolution was unanimous, the force was present, the decision to comply or defy rested with Saddam. It was, in effect, says Mr. Blix, Saddam' own obduracy that, in the end, did him in.
In the end what Mr. Blix communicates is an overwhelming sense of frustration.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Hassan on April 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The book is very good. First of all, this is not a little nobody writing some personal account. This is the man in charge of the UN inspections. Nobody better than him to offer real intelligence to the international community. He and El Baradei were in the ground. They were not sitting in D.C. or the CIA headquarters, thousands of miles away trusting in little bugs and informants. They were there, watching the ground with their eyes. They were willing to double check ALL what the US intelligence had gathered for years. Yet, they found that all that was crap. Take into account that this man started the inspection believing that Iraq HAD WMD. Yet, in the process he got convinced that he was wrong. And that is what apparently exasperated Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. I don't include Bush here because he is the main spokeperson of the administration, not the policy maker (and I am a Republican!). In summary, Blix could have offered the best possible intelligence available by all means. So, whatever the literary accomplishemnts are (I guess he wasn't interested in a Pulitzer), just pay attention to the facts. It will help you fill the gaps in your understanding of what was going on and what is going on now in Iraq. Compare the content of those who gave 1 star to this book and those who gave 4 or 5. And you will see that no matter what review you read, you will end up buying this book.
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