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Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush Hardcover – January 17, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Iraq invasion of 2003 was only the latest in a long line of episodes of Western manipulation in that country, which owes its existence—and its complex and troubled demographics—to the designs of British imperialists. Lando, a 60 Minutes investigative producer and filmmaker, carefully arranges all the threads of modern Iraqi political history and liberally doles out the guilt. Though the subtitle mentions Churchill and Kennedy, the book covers the period from WWI through the 1970s in the first two chapters, with the bulk devoted to Iraq after 1989. Through extensive quotes from politicians, statesmen and official documents, Lando exposes the duplicity and ulterior motives that have pervaded the West's dealings Iraq. From the CIA's artificial prolonging of the Iran-Iraq War to the legendary betrayals of the Kurds and Shiites, the result has been death and destruction on a massive scale. Though the prose is sometimes dry and Lando's focus on Machiavellian politics makes it hard to get a clear view of Iraqi society, his book offers readers a grasp of the country America has broken more than perhaps any other. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A former investigative journalist with 60 Minutes, Lando here presents a scathing account of the American role in creating, misleading, starving, and ultimately destroying Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The brunt of his argument is that the U.S. has routinely played Iraq for profit and strategic advantage yet consistently evaded responsibility for exacerbating the carnage of its destructive wars and humanitarian crises. In a chapter on the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88, Lando describes U.S. efforts to appear neutral while feeding information and selling weapons to both Iran and Iraq. The first Gulf War, he argues, was precipitated by mixed messages between Washington and Baghdad about the consequences of an attack on Kuwait. So, too, did the U.S. falsely imply that it would come to the aid of Kurdish rebels, leaving them to be massacred by Saddam Hussein. But Lando's harshest criticism is of the U.S.-enforced sanctions, which led to a horrific humanitarian crisis, the effects of which ironically plague U.S. forces trying to maintain order today. Lando is, however, no apologist for Saddam Hussein, and this account certainly does not whitewash Iraq's aggressive foreign policy. Fast-paced and thick with realpolitik, this account is sure to draw attention. Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (January 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590512383
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590512388
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #861,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The Watchman's File is my first novel. It grew out of a report I did for "Sixty Minutes" about the ties between major American corporations and Hitler's Nazi regime in the 1930's. There were hints that, for some companies at least, those close ties may have not ended with Pearl Harbor. That premise led to a mystery novel.

I'm a Canadian, born in the great city of Vancouver, B.C., a graduate of Harvard and Columbia University. I went to work as a correspondent for Time-Life in Brazil, then spent 25 years as an investigative producer with 60 Minutes. I was based first in Washington, D.C., as Watergate filled the headlines, then moved to Paris in 1979, from where I covered the world, working mainly with Mike Wallace. Those were great times. We reported on the rise to power of Khomeini, the end of the Soviet Union, the opening up of China, and on-going turmoil in the Middle East. I was honored with several awards for some of those broadcasts.

Since leaving 60 Minutes in 1997, I first took off a year to travel around the Pacific with my French wife and our 6 year old son, then returned to Paris and continued to comment on current affairs. I produced a documentary about Saddam Hussein. The thesis was that several past and present leaders of the Western World--including the U.S--should have been put on trial with Saddam, since they were complicit with many of his crimes. The documentary was shown around the world--but not in the United States.

That documentary became a book, "Web of Deceit, The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill, to Kennedy to George W. Bush."

Over the past few years I have also blogged on international affairs, particularly the Middle East, for the Huffington Post, Counterpunch, Truth Dig, and several other sides, including my own blog,

As I've said "The Watchman's File" is my first novel.

I currently live in London with my wife, Elisabeth. Our son, Edward, is finishing up his studies at Wharton in Philadelphia, my elder son Jeffery is movie director, living with his wife and two children in Vancouver; my daughter, Dominique is a therapist working in Berkley.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By MountainRunner on March 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Barry Lando's Web of Deceit opens with a detailed chronology of events concerning Iraq beginning in 1914. With an entry for nearly every year, there is but a handful of instances three gaps in time, Lando sets the factual and methodical tone and tenor of the book.

The book's ten chapters describes the creation and evolution of Iraq. In the first chapter, beginning in 1914 and spanning four and a half decades, Lando begins with a brief but useful look at pre-Twentieth Century history of the region. The real meat is the British and French actions and deals to divy up the region, which Lando uses to draw stark parallels to the current American involvement in Iraq.

The rest of the book focuses Western and Soviet involvement in shaping Iraq through support, both explicit and implicit, whether accident or not. The book concludes in August 2006 in the appropriately titled chapter "Full Circle: The Occupation" that itself concludes by reminding the reader of history 80 years before when the British occupied Iraq.

I found the book to be an exceptional and quick paced read. I also found myself constantly reading hit frequent endnotes. This book is an "investigative history" as the jacket describes, similar to Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City (a book Lando would have benefited from but was probably not released in time for his deadlines), but much broader and with greater reach-back in terms of both time and beyond the immediate superficial players. Lando peels back more layers while not getting analytical. He simply lays out the facts in an effective and accessible chronological manner creating what is essentially a compendum of the essential material analyzing (and criticizing) of Iraq, notably the Iraq War media and texts, through 2006.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Future Watch Writer on February 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books on Anglo-American policy towards Iraq. Its key virtue is placing the current disaster in the context of a long pattern of war crimes and lies, going back to Winston Churchill and World War I. It was Churchill, not Saddam, who initiated the use of poison gas against civilians as a means of control. In the 1980's American satellites helped direct Saddam in the use of massive amounts of poison gas, including nerve gas, against Iranian troops. In 1991 America called on the Shiites to rise up and then did nothing while Saddam slaughtered them. I could go to list even more dishonest and criminal acts by England and America but I suggest you just read the book. If you are skeptical about any assertions in this review, just go read the book. It speaks for itself and is very well-documented.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of two books that I have read together, both documenting the decades of deceit by both the US and UK governments, and to a much lesser degree, by France, Germany, and Russia, among others.

The two compelling facts that stay with me as I put the book down, are two:

1) From Churchill to Kennedy to Bush (Cheney), all of our Presidents in the US, but most especially Reagan, Bush, Clinton (Brzezinski), and the current and failed crew of neo conservatives that use Bush Junior as a talking doll, have been complicit--let me spell that again--complicit in the mass murders, the massacres, the torture that we first condoned and now practice ourselves. The US White House denizens are all long overdue for formal indictment, at least by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The author documents, very ably, a long string of broken promises (e.g. to the Bedouin leader for a free Arab state in return for help in WWI, to the Kurds, etc.) and complicity in mass murder. In the author's views, the sanctions are a war crime against the children, women, and elderly of Iraq, a war crime that lasted thirteen years.

2) Salaam Hussein was a creature spawned in large part by the CIA. Although I have spent 30 years in the intelligence business, it was not until I embarked on my broad non-fiction reading program that I have been able to understand that the CIA specifically, but all the rest of the classified intelligence community, is complicit in mass murders, genocides, running cocaine into the US to wipe out poor communities now addicted to crack, made affordable by the CIA's drug runners, and made politically kosher because Wall Street demands drug money--laundered drug money--for its liquidity.

I join Lee Iacocca in asking, "Where is the outrage?
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Tom Markus on February 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is masterful. Big-time Bush cheerleaders like Andrew Sullivan who championed us into this tragic war, will have to reconcile their own consciences with the books revelations. The hypocrisy of the neocons and Bush worshipers is astonishing.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Middle East History Buff on March 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pulling no punches, Barry effectively reconstructs the history of Iraq from the end of the Ottoman Empire, through the current shrub administration.

Like Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein was a monster we help create in a very big way. When he was coerced into attacking Iran, he was useful. When he gassed the Kurds and the town of Halabja, he was inconvenient, but still an ally, and was removed from the list of terrorist states. When our government (in concert with the Iranians) removed military support for the Kurdish rebellion, our government watched as he brutally massacred and gassed them with weapons he procured from us and the Germans. When he became no longer useful, we did him in. We did not allow the court to name foreigners as co-defendants, which was lucky for many in our current administration.

But what is more extraordinary, is the history of the Soviets, Israeli's and the U.S selling weapons to both Iraq and Iran during their war through the 1980's. We sold weapons to both sides (Iran - Contra Scandal), gave Saddam satellite and other intelligence, just enough to keep them both going so that, in the words of Henry Kissinger: "I hope they kill each other...".

This book provides a wealth of information for those interested in understanding some of the history of U.S interference in Iraq, and a little of the same in Iran.
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