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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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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.
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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Mr. Lando begins the chronology of events form 1914, when the map of the Meddle East was being redrawn following WWI. That historical perspective illuminates the controversy of Iraq’s composition in 1921 with the explosive mixture of ethnic groups, tribes and religions. For a reader who counts on TV coverage of the US-Iraqi Wars and who thinks that he understands the situation, it would be an eye-opening experience to learn about the real political and economical motives behind the endless turmoil in the region.
To me the most exciting discoveries came from the chapters devoted to the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran War. Mr. Lando showed that the support from western countries shifted many times from Iraq to Iran, with an aim to extend the conflict. It also clarifies the story of the Iran-Contra Affair. This is a much needed book for educating young people who are interested in real world politics and who are trying to look ahead and anticipate the future.
The book documents 86 years of Mesopotamian history, from the British creation of Iraq in 1921 from unrelated warring factions, to the state of open civil war between those same warring factions in late 2006. This book was completed sometime after the start of Saddam's trial in August 2006 but before his subsequent execution in December. Needless to say, conditions in Iraq have not markedly improved, making the book still very timely.
Iraqi history is appalling in its greed, avarice, inhumanity and cruelty -- both from within and outside the country of Iraq. There's no point recounting the sober and well-researched narrative of the book, you can and should read it yourself if you're interested in the truth instead of propaganda.
The author makes clear that the absurd calls for "victory in Iraq" will first have to define exactly what that would entail. From Iraq's sad and blood-soaked history, such a chimera is by no means obvious.
In the back half of the book however, it seemed like the author slipped more into inserting his opinion and outlook into the narrative versus weaving together well documented facts into a meaningful document.
That said, I think this book is invaluable to the average reader in understanding some of the basis of outlooks and opinions held by many in and outside of the Middle East.
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.