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The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq Hardcover – September 18, 2002
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"One of the most important books on American foreign policy in years. There is no greater strategic challenge than Iraq, and nobody better qualified to tackle it than Kenneth Pollack. To have such comprehensive, high-quality professional analysis available publicly and in real time is simply extraordinary. From now on, all serious debate over how to handle Saddam starts here."
-Gideon Rose, Managing Editor, Foreign Affairs
"Iraq is at the top of America's foreign policy agenda and this book should be at the top of your reading list. Kenneth Pollack approaches the problem of Saddam Hussein without ideological blinkers or prejudices. He provides an clear-eyed account of the breakdown of American policy toward Saddam Hussein and makes a powerful case for a shift in that policy. Whether or not you agree with Pollack's solution -- and I do -- you will admire The Threatening Storm. It is intelligent, balanced, and measured; a model of fair-minded analysis on a topic that rarely gets any. Before you make up your mind on Iraq, read this book."
-Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International
" Kenneth Pollack has brilliantly written a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the problem Iraq poses for the United States. This is a must read for those desiring an in depth understanding of the issues in this complex problem and for those who are responsible for developing policy."
-General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.)
From the Inside Flap
In The Threatening Storm, Kenneth M. Pollack, one of the world?s leading experts on Iraq, provides a masterly insider?s perspective on the crucial issues facing the United States as it moves toward a new confrontation with Saddam Hussein.
For the past fifteen years, as an analyst on Iraq for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, Kenneth Pollack has studied Saddam as closely as anyone else in the United States. In 1990, he was one of only three CIA analysts to predict the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. As the principal author of the CIA?s history of Iraqi military strategy and operations during the Gulf War, Pollack gained rare insight into the methods and workings of what he believes to be the most brutal regime since Stalinist Russia.
Examining all sides of the debate and bringing a keen eye to the military and geopolitical forces at work, Pollack ultimately comes to this controversial conclusion: through our own mistakes, the perfidy of others, and Saddam?s cunning, the United States is left with few good policy options regarding Iraq. Increasingly, the option that makes the most sense is for the United States to launch a full-scale invasion, eradicate Saddam?s weapons of mass destruction, and rebuild Iraq as a prosperous and stable society?for the good of the United States, the Iraqi people, and the entire region.
Pollack believed for many years that the United States could prevent Saddam from threatening the stability of the Persian Gulf and the world through containment?a combination of sanctions and limited military operations. Here, Pollack explains why containment is no longer effective, and why other policies intended to deter Saddam ultimately pose a greater risk than confronting him now, before he gains possession of nuclear weapons and returns to his stated goal of dominating the Gulf region. ?It is often said that war should be employed only in the last resort,? Pollack writes. ?I reluctantly believe that in the case of the threat from Iraq, we have come to the last resort.?
Offering a view of the region that has the authority and force of an intelligence report, Pollack outlines what the leaders of neighboring Arab countries are thinking, what is necessary to gain their support for an invasion, how a successful U.S. operation would be mounted, what the likely costs would be, and how Saddam might react. He examines the state of Iraq today?its economy, its armed forces, its political system, the status of its weapons of mass destruction as best we understand them, and the terrifying security apparatus that keeps Saddam in power. Pollack also analyzes the last twenty years of relations between the United States and Iraq to explain how the two countries reached the unhappy standoff that currently prevails.
Commanding in its insights and full of detailed information about how leaders on both sides will make their decisions, The Threatening Storm is an essential guide to understanding what may be the crucial foreign policy challenge of our time.
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Others have faulted the book for its failure to catalogue the use of chemical weapons by others in the past, or the support lent Saddam by Western powers in his war with Iran. Mr. Pollack does not go into these issues at any length because they are irrelevant. The question is not what has been done in the past (other than how that might help us predict what will happen in the future), the issue is what is happening now, what level of threat does this pose, and how might we best deal with it.
In fact, one could say the "you helped him in the past" statement is actually an argument for the USA to take unilateral action against Saddam -- as in "you created the problem, you take care of it without bothering us."
That Saddam was viewed as a lesser threat than Iran in the past, does not mean he is benign now.
Mr. Pollack presents an outstanding (and at times astonishingly prescient -- see his comments on North Korea) analysis of the current situation. If this appears to lead to the conclusion that an invasion is our best answer, then so be it. He says quite clearly that he has come to this reluctantly. Those who disagree with that conclusion will have to come up with better responses than "war is a terrible thing" (who said it wasn't?), George Bush is a corporate lacky and cretin (debatable but irrelevant), other folks have done bad things in the past (true but irrelevant), and any number of other similar statements.
If you truly want to understand what is at stake, the arguments for action (or inaction) against Iraq -- stripped of emotional irrelevancy, and what those actions might be, then this is the book for you.
For those interested, even now after the ostensible hostilities are over, the book gives a compelling overview of Iraq and how the United States arrived at the confrontation that overthrough Saddam.
I defy anyone who reads through the chapter detailing the brutal oppression of the Saddam regime to say that our war was unjust. Perhaps the lesson of Stalin, Mao, Pott, Hitler was not enough. Perhaps the Baathist regime's modeling of Stalinist tactics and strategy is not enough. Perhaps actual facts are difficult to understand, or the THOUSANDS of mass graves and "dissappeared" are to be absorbed because of the current occupant of the White House. I find such a view very foolish, and most scary.
In light or recent events, of course, a reader would read the chapters related to WMD programs with particular interest. Was the U.S., and the world community duped into believing Iraq possessed WMD programs? The book makes it pretty clear that Iraq had some type of WMD program operating. However, I find myself thinking now about the location of the WMD's. was it all faked? The book makes it seem very doubtful, but it is certain that one way or the other, Iraq was a threat to us, either through its support of terroism world wide or through numerous attempts to procure nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
Personally, the book provided a lot of confirmation about my thoughts about the Iraq situation. I believe the author provides a lot solid reasons detailing why the invasion was necessary, and that delays were actually more dangerous to the US.
This book exposes that fallacious thinking of the UN boosters, and the containment crowd because it points out that the UN route
was never designed to end Iraq's murderous regime; and that the containment crowd never addressed the danger to our pilots and military in enforcing the no-fly zone, the continued presence the military needed in Saudi Arabia ( causing great tension), and the fact that the UN enforcement regime was weakening all the time.
This is a good book for someone interested in seeking answers beyond the blather presented as news, and the empty (and empty-headed slogans of the moron crowd (ex. "no blood for oil"). Perhaps you will not agree with all of Mr. Pollack's views, but one can never dispute that Saddam was one bad dude, with one of the most vicious regimes of the 20th century. ...
This is an interesting book that will engage you with its compelling and logical discussion of the issues Iraq presented to the US and other responsible people...
I was wrong. As Kenneth Pollack clearly shows, containment would have never worked. As a policy to prevent Saddam from developing WMD, containment (coupled with inspections) has been a complete failure, due in part to various nations (i.e. France, Russia, China) circumventing the policy to serve their own economic self-interests. Pollack demostrates the implosion of containment in explicit detail. Those who proclaim that a U.S decision to go it alone and invade Iraq represents a defeat for multilateralism should wake up and smell the coffee; multilaterism died with the failure of containment.
With containment off the table, Pollack leaves us with two choices: deterrence or invasion. Pollack claims a policy of deterrence will result in an Iraq with nuclear weapons and the ability to blackmail the world by threatening to nuke the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. That leaves us with invasion. But what if a threat to Saudi oil didn't threaten our economic interests? If the West and Japan pursued policies that drastically reduced our dependence on oil, deterrence might be an option. Pollack doesn't address this possibility at all. It is the one failing in an otherwise excellent book. Before reading it, I was on the fence. Not anymore.
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